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[wiki:contest] OS2U-3 Kingfisher

OS2U-3 Kingfisher


OS2U-3 Kingfisher is a delicate eye appealing floatplane (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) of mid-wing monoplane design with a large central float and two smaller floats, one under each wing. Designed in second half of the 1930s it served throughout the WW2 primarily in the US Navy as catapult launched scout plane. As such it had long endurance and was often used for Search and Rescue operations. In War Thunder it is classified as a bomber and placed at Rank 1 in US Navy branch immediately after OS2U-1. Main difference from OS2U-1 are additional self-sealing fuel tanks being added in the wings and armor protection for pilot (seat and windshield).


The main purpose, usage and tactics recommendations


Kingfisher is not an agile plane and has a low top speed. Offensive armament consists of a single 7.62 mm (0.30 cal) gun (with 500 rounds) which requires prolonged periods of time with sights on target to reliably do significant damage. It has a gunner also equipped with a 7.62 mm gun, however while his firing arc is relatively wide, it does not cover six o'clock low (low and behind the plane) so be wary of enemies approaching from that angle. Occasionally it will set an enemy on fire, snipe his pilot, or even do critical damage but frequency of this happening strongly depends on gunner's skill. Also, you can take gunner view and try shooting it down yourself. In addition, Kingfisher can carry two 100 lbs bombs capable of destroying most ground targets and landing crafts, however, these require extreme accuracy since are very weak and have a small blast radius.




For these reasons Kingfisher is among most players considered overall bad plane, but do not be discouraged. Sure, this is no RP and lions farming machine but (mostly in Realistic and Simulator battles) it can be fun to immerse in the time of WW2 on different locations, especially over Pacific.


Overheating is not an issue with Kingfisher. Relatively low power air-cooled engine will not overheat while keeping it at 100% throttle even on warm maps (Pacific, Mediterranean maps). Overheating temperature for oil is 105°C and for engine 260°C. Effectiveness of oil cooling is more dependent on air temperature and engine cooling on speed at which air travels over the engine. WEP-ing (War Emergency Power) for long periods will overheat the engine in most conditions, while oil will overheat only at low altitudes (< 2 km on warm maps). To cool down simply pull throttle back from WEP to 100%.


Kingfisher is classified as a bomber and as such it spawns at altitude. Primarily, it should be used in ground attack role across all game modes. If possible, stay out of sight of the enemy and try to take indirect routes to desired targets. Single 7.62 mm gun is capable of destroying artillery, AAA (stationary and on trucks) and armored cars. Tanks and light pillboxes cannot be destroyed with such a small MG caliber but only with bombs. Cargo ships will require a single 100 lb hit on deck. Landing crafts may be taken out by gunfire but will require lots of hits.


Arcade battles

At the start of the battle dive to the side and let your team to engage first enemy wave. Then when they are engaged in fight and distracted approach enemy ground targets. As the main goal is to remain undetected as long as possible always choose targets closer to the edge of the map.

When you are lower than the enemy it is harder for him to see you against the ground. Also, enemy must approach much closer before your marker (name tag) shows up while at the same time his marker will show earlier. What distance will enemy's marker show up depends on weather conditions (clouds), altitude difference and pilot's skill.

If more maneuverable enemy gets on your six (any biplane and most of monoplane fighters), and you cannot escape it, try jerking, shaking and changing heading in random fashion while the gunner does his work. Arcade flight model is more forgiving and will allow some aerobatics. This is especially viable if the enemy has only low caliber guns such as Kingfisher's. Use this time to reach friendlies. Alternatively, get in the gunner's view and try to deal damage to the attacker.

Even though it has no wheels it can land on airfields but touchdown must be gentle and at low speed to avoid serious damage. After repairs it will be spawned in the air. In “Domination” mode, where the goal is to seize enemy airfields by landing on them, Kingfisher can be used for capture but once landed it cannot takeoff immediately. This coupled with dynamic nature of arcade battles usually leads to loss of the aircraft, therefore it is best to use it in last effort to turn the tide of the battle.


Realistic battles

This is where bomber spawn comes in handy. Dive to the side of the map and start approach to remote enemy ground targets. By doing so chance to be detected by the enemy is minimized even more so than in Arcade. Observe the sky and report any spotted enemies to your team.

In RB and SB modes flight model is realistic and the lack of powerful engine will be obvious. Thanks to its low Power to Mass ratio of about 0,13 kW/kg (P-26A Peashooter has 0,29 kW/kg) acceleration and climb rate are very poor. Energy retention is not Kingfisher's strong side either. Every hard turn will drain its energy and it will lose altitude rapidly. Attempts of performing any difficult maneuvers, such as loop, are not advised before gaining some altitude and reaching decent speed (over 200 km/h IAS) otherwise the plane will stall out and plunge in the ground or become an easy target.

Since Kingfisher was never equipped with a bomb sight there is no bombing reticle in RB. Another important thing is that in this mode both bombs will drop at the same time. Therefore, dive bombing technique is to be used. To hit a target climb a few hundred meters (250 m at least), line up with the target at least 1 km out to avoid lateral movement at final approach, when 500 m from the target start diving at an angle (30° or more – steeper the angle and higher the speed, less lead on target is needed), aim just above it, drop the load and pull out. Light tanks should be attacked from the back as it is easier to follow their movement. Try this in test flight before trying to pull it off in a battle.




Bombs can be set to explode not on impact, but with delay, too. This option makes ground attack safer since it gives the attacking aircraft more time to exit the blast radius. Kingfisher has a few things in its favor when preforming dive attacks. First, low speed and low wing loading make pulling out close to the ground very easy. This means higher chance of scoring a hit. Another thing is small blast radius. While it requires high precision at the same time it lowers the chance to cause damage to the aircraft. If chosen to perform low bomb release 1 sec delay will give enough time to leave the blast radius and avoid damage.


After offensive ammo has been consumed ground attack can be continued with gunner's MG which has unlimited ammo. Approach the target in low level flight, after passing it pull up in shallow climb and switch to gunner's view to destroy it.


When landing on water aircraft must be close to a carrier to repair. Approach it from the stern and stop at bow because most carriers will be moving and plane needs to stand still during repair/reload.


Simulator battles

Aircraft's characteristics and advices mentioned in Realistic battles section apply to Simulator mode as well.

Cockpit visibility is decent but thanks to gunner's view this aircraft has excellent potential for situation awareness in simulator mode and this is what sets Kingfisher apart from majority of its opponents. Zooming in while in cockpit will activate telescopic sight which, while great for landing shots on distant targets, may be slightly bothersome because it narrows the field of view.



Once in a while under in-game Events & Tournaments tab there will be Floats event. It is Arcade event for floatplanes such as Kingfisher in which, among others, it will encounter H6K4, and PBY-5a. Stay away from their six because their gunners will shred Kingfisher to pieces in matter of seconds. Wait for them to land in an attempt to capture zone, then drop 2 x 100 lbs on them. When other options exhausted, you can resort to ramming. It is perfectly acceptable tactic when you are outmatched by these multi engine beasts. Try to approach them from the front or sides to avoid most of their gunners. Their fuselage is very strong so avoid it and aim for the wings.


Pros and cons of the plane



- bomber spawn

- gets to participate in Floats event (infinite fun)

- can land on water

- telescopic sight (RB)



- low top speed

- poor acceleration

- poor climb rate

- high minimum fuel load

- low Power to Mass ratio

- small burst mass due to single 7.62 mm

- poor energy retention

- no bombing reticle in RB, SB

- telescopic sight (SB)




Weak armament with decent ammo supply. Low burst mass will require long bursts which, if not careful, may lead to overheating and gun jams. Payload consists of two 100 lb bombs, one of the smallest in game, therefore pinpoint accuracy is vital. Defensive ammo belts offer only one alternative to default one. Offensive ammo belts have more variety:

  • Universal – T/AP/I – a good mix of tracers, armor piercing and incendiaries
  • Tracer – AP/T/T/T/T – mostly consists of tracers capable of causing fire
  • Stealth – AP/AP/AP/I/I – least effective since it contains mostly armor piercing rounds


Frontal offensive guns

1 × 7.62 mm M1919 Browning machine gun in nose mount, 500 rounds (15 sec reload in AB)

Defensive weaponry

1 × 7.62 mm M1919 Browning machine gun in dorsal mount, 600 rounds (15 sec reload in AB)


2 × 100 lbs AN-M30 bombs (60 sec reload in AB)


Modules and improvements


First modification to research should be Mk. 41 which allows installation of two 100 lb bombs. Next, focus on performance and survivability upgrades: fuselage repair, radiator, compressor, engine, wing repair, airframe and cover. Weapons upgrades can be left for last. These will allow the use of more effective ammo belts.


In-game performance:


- with minimum fuel load (1 hour) and 2 x 100 lbs

- all data is in IAS - Indicated Air Speed





History of creation and combat usage


OS2U Kingfisher built by Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division was catapult-launched observation floatplane designed by Rex Beisel (a design engineer responsible for F4U Corsair). Kingfisher was assembled using a revolutionary spot welding construction which created a smooth fuselage that generated less drag. It also had number of innovative features, such as deflector plate flaps and drooping ailerons used to create additional lift at low speeds which improved control of the plane.(1)


First prototype XOS2U-1 flew in 1938 and first production variant was delivered in early 1940.(2) Despite its modest performance it gradually started replacing Curtiss SOC Seagull biplane and ended up as U.S. Navy's main ship-launched scout plane during WW2. It stayed in use much longer than expected because its successor Curtiss SO3C Seamew suffered from various issues, most notably engine failures.


OS2U-3 first flew on 17 May 1941. It was very similar to OS2U-1. Main difference from its predecessor was additional self-sealing fuel tanks in the wings and improved armor protection for the pilot. It had a 450 hp (336 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN2 engine (all Kingfishers were powered by different versions of this engine).(3) It was armed with a 7.62 mm gun in the nose (hidden inside engine compartment) and a 7.62 mm gun in dorsal turret on flexible ring mount. Also, apart from 100 lb (45 kg) bombs it was able to load 325 lb (147 kg) of depth charges. The OS2U-3 was the most produced variant with just over 1000 units built. It was the only exported variant and it served in many countries from Uruguay to Australia including the Soviet Union aboard cruiser Murmansk (USS Milwaukee). Last of the Kingfishers were withdrawn from service on Cuba in 1959.


While some were deployed to land bases (OS2U-2 installed with wheels instead floats were mostly used for training) most of Kingfishers operated from U.S. Navy's heavy and light cruisers and battleships. Violent launch was done into the wind by catapult powered with a cannon shell. Landing required ship to make a turn in order to create patch of relatively calm sea surface where Kingfisher could land and then taxi to the “sled” used to pull it closer to the ship's crane which would hoist it back on deck.


In the early 1940s seaborne radar was a rarity and still primitive, the eyes and ears of a fleet of warships were limited at best. This is where the observation aircraft was imperative. A battleship would launch a Kingfisher seaplane and the aircraft could then patrol the surrounding seas for hundreds of miles for hours at a time. Depending on the threat, the Kingfisher might be looking for anything as huge as an enemy fleet or as small and deadly as a single enemy submarine. In the case of the latter, the Kingfisher had teeth of its own: even with its limited payload, Kingfishers assisted in the sinking of U-Boats U-576 and U-176. Simply finding a target or enemy fleet was of immense use to the bridge crew of a warship, but the Kingfisher could do more. Once an enemy fleet was identified it was almost inevitable that an engagement would take place – even in the 1940s, naval guns were well capable of firing shells in excess of 20 miles. The Kingfisher could fly over an enemy fleet and report directly back to the bridge crew of any warship within its own fleet, giving real time feedback of the accuracy of shot and corrections to bring the tremendous firepower onto a target. Furthermore, the importance of naval gunfire did not stop with engaging other vessels: carrying some of the largest guns in the entire world on a mobile platform, battleships were the ultimate fire support during an amphibious assault. As US Marines fought their way from beachheads all across the Pacific theatre, the guns of the fleet were often there to eliminate concentrations of enemy troops and heavy defensive positions. Again, the Kingfisher was ideally placed to ensure this supporting fire was accurately and efficiently delivered.(4)


Even though it was used in many different roles, as trainer, bomber, anti-submarine platform in the Atlantic, scout, naval gunfire spotter etc. the Kingfisher was most respectable for Search and Rescue missions where it was involved in saving downed airmen in the Pacific. On one occasion in 1942 over Pacific a B-17D became disoriented, ran out of fuel and ditched. After drifting for several weeks without food and water crew and passengers were rescued by a Kingfisher. With all the survivors on its wings it could not take off and started taxing to nearest island before being relived by a torpedo boat. However, most notable rescue happened in 1944 over Guam when a Kingfisher of USS Indiana rescued two downed airmen despite being exposed to fire from several nearby Japanese artillery positions.(5)

The only confirmed kill scored with Kingfisher happened on 16 February 1945 at Iwo Jima where Lieutenant D.W. Gandy shot down a Zero fighter.



Kingfisher landing near USS Massachusetts in 1944


Source: Wikimedia commons:


Screenshots and fan art




Camouflages and skins for the OS2U from



Additional information


Ugly Ducklings article by Mark Barber

Official discussion on OS2U-3 Kingfisher




1. Noles, J. L. Jr (2005, February/March). Old Slow and Ugly. Air & Space, p. 67.

2. Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher. (2015, May 05) Retrieved from http://airandspace.s...sm_A19610106000

3. Noles, J. L. Jr (2005, February/March). Old Slow and Ugly. Air & Space, p. 68

4. Barber, M. (2015, April 17). Ugly Ducklings – The Vought OS2U Kingfisher. Retrieved from

5. Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher. (2015, May 05) Retrieved from http://airandspace.s...sm_A19610106000

Edited by Angel_Maker
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Great Article. A lot of detail for the in game and how to use it. A Few things I would recommend stressing a bit more in the History and Combat usage part. This was a really sophisticated aircraft for it's time including construction method, small/lightweight engine for storage size on-board ships, endurance/range, lightweight/small engine, stall speed, etc. Also for fun may want to make note of Lt. Gandy's Zero Kill in his OS2U over Iwo Jima.


Great work on a very important and seemingly overlooked aircraft in War Thunder!



Edited by Bohica_Ice

SupermarioPS (Posted )

Nah, not really. It's extensive enough as it is in regards to history.
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I would have nothing to add to this article.

You could link the Ugly Duckling article, or even copy that one to the bottom history usage (with reference of course).

Not to mention it is an era 1 "reserve-like" bomber. I am surprised one can write so much about it /-D

Format wise the best article I've seen so far. Do you often write for the normal Wikipedia?



              Mario - Wiki Lead Moderator

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Thank you guys for your feedback. It means a lot to get other peoples perspective. I do not write for Wikipedia, unfortunately.

Just updated article with:

  • new max speed in realistic
  • paragraph on bomb delay
  • part of Ugly Ducklings article included in History (with reference)
  • Zero kill by Lt Gandy
  • link to Ugly Ducklings in Additional info

Hopefully I did not make a cumbersome article since I believe most players are looking for concise info on vehicles and not a novel :)


edit 13.05.2015

  • added paragraph on overheating
  • removed part of bomb delay paragraph - it was too general

edit: 14.05.2015

  • link to damage mechanics
  • grammar

edit: 16.05.2015

  • ground attack in gunner's view
  • cargo ships
  • modified Ugly Ducklings paragraph to fit in with rest of History section
Edited by Angel_Maker
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I would have nothing to add to this article.

You could link the Ugly Duckling article, or even copy that one to the bottom history usage (with reference of course).

Not to mention it is an era 1 "reserve-like" bomber. I am surprised one can write so much about it /-D

Format wise the best article I've seen so far. Do you often write for the normal Wikipedia?



              Mario - Wiki Lead Moderator

This reminded me of something - once, I created an Ugly Duckling red link. I've been thinking whether there should be a page dedicated to indexing "Ugly Ducklings" and their articles.

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He is correct about the ammo in RB, not being unlimited. You only have so many belts (30 belts) of ammo - once you have reloaded all 30 belts, "no more ammo for you".

Granted, to go thru 30 '600' round belts would require you to be shooting the gunner's machine gun almost all game long. But it is possible.

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I finally had some free time at hand to add this page to the Wiki.

Took me ~70 minutes (that was the fastes transfer I've done so far, no format quirks and no need to look for crossreferences o public domain), the results speak for themself:

Again, well written Angel_Maker. :)s

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I remember reading a book about Iwo Jima and how a OS2U shot down a zero :P

Edited by Ryan97226
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Just wanted to say that I really like the article. One can rarely find such informative sources. Do you plan to write on any other subject, like dive bombing in RB? I'd really like to see an article about the Ju-87, specifically.

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