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OS2U Kingfisher

Kitty Hawk Models 1/32 OS2U Kingfisher Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2015 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject OS2U Kingfisher Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32016 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nicest Kingfisher kit in any scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $89.95

First Look

OS2U Kingfisher
OS2U Kingfisher
OS2U Kingfisher
OS2U Kingfisher
OS2U Kingfisher
OS2U Kingfisher

The Vought OS2U was developed in the late 1930s to replace the existing catapult-launched observation floatplanes in service at the time. Dubbed 'Kingfisher', the OS2U was a two-man observation aircraft featuring a low monoplane wing, a large central float and two outrigger floats under the outer wings. The aircraft was powered by a 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985 Twin Wasp Junior engine. As with the previous generations of ship-based observation aircraft, the Kingfisher was launched from a catapult mounted aboard U.S. Navy cruisers and battleships and then recovered while the ship was underway by landing and driving up onto a net towed by the ship. Once the hook under the center float snagged the net, the aircraft could be shut down and its built-in hoist cable attached to the ship's recovery crane.

It was a very pleasant surprise to hear that Kitty Hawk was going to release an OS2U Kingfisher since the only decent model was the Airfix 1/72 kit. Revell's venerable 1/48 kit had numerous issues that were eventually fixed with an extensive resin correction set from Cutting Edge Modelworks (now defunct) that was many times more expensive than the kit itself. Then we learned that this Kitty Hawk OS2U would be coming in 1/32 scale! As CAD drawings were released and test shots shown at the 2015 IPMS/USA Nationals, it was clear that this was going to be a great kit! While a few folks started taking issue with some aspect of the model, that ended when noted aviation historian Dana Bell gave the test shot at the Nationals a thumbs-up.

As with previous Kitty Hawk kits, this new release is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched details. The surface detailing is finely scribed and there are raised rivets in the right places. There is no hint of molding flash to contend with. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed P&W R-985 engine
  • Detailed engine mounts and firewall details
  • Positionable engine access panels
  • Detailed cockpits
  • Choice of .30 caliber machine guns for observer's gun ring
  • Photo-etched crew restraints
  • Detailed radio rack in observer's 'pit
  • Positionable canopies
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable flaps
  • Choice of floats or fixed landing gear
  • Beaching gear provided for float option
  • Underwing bomb racks with optional bomb load
  • Optional boarding ladder

Markings are included for six options:

  • OS2U-3, 102, NAS Corpus, 1942
  • OS2U, 1-0-1, VO-1, USS Arizona, 1941
  • OS2U, 1-0-7, VO-1, USS Pennsylvania, 1940
  • OS2U-3, Soviet Navy, 1944
  • OS2U, FN768, 765 Sqn, RAF, 1943
  • OS2U-3, 2, USN, 1941

Note that one of the color profiles depict a fixed gear Kingfisher assigned aboard a battleship. While the markings are fine, I'd be skeptical and put floats on that version. We'll soon see how it goes together but I think Kitty Hawk Models has a hit on their hands. Hopefully we'll see this design work scaled down to 1/48 scale in our near future as well.

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!