by Adrian M Balch
As the mighty battlewagon ploughed through the waters of the Pacific few would have noticed the little aircraft perched on the ships stern. To many it was 'old, slow and ugly' while to others it was veritable life saver. The name of this unsung hero: the Vought OS2U Kingfisher. Designed initially for gunnery spotting duties the Kingfisher was lightly armed defensively although once America entered the war it soon found itself toting depth charges. Manned by a crew of two that consisted of a pilot and the guy in back who did everything else the little spotter aircraft soon earned itself a solid reputation. It was the rescue mission at Truk that made the aircraft famous. After a heavy raid upon Truk the crew spotted their own airmen struggling in the water. Setting down the little Kingfisher soon found itself festooned in rescued aircrew. The little engine managed to drag the overweight machine to a meeting with a submarine where all were rescued, the slowly sinking aircraft being sunk. The rescue efforts of the Pacific Kingfishers plus those of the Martin Mariner (also in this series) formed the basis of the air sea rescue concept in use today. Outside of the US Navy the OS2U was flown by the USCG,USMC, the Fleet Air Arm, various Latin
American countries, the RAAF who took it to the Antarctic plus the Russian Navy. Fortunately a handful survive in preservation in Australia and the United States.