Octopus 1/72 Vought
OS2U Kingfisher

By Chris Banyai-Riepl


The OS2U Kingfisher came about from a specification in 1937 for a new two-seat observation and reconnaissance aircraft.  One of the requirements was that the plane could operate from both the ground and water.  Out of the three projects submitted the Vought example was the one chosen and on March 1, 1938 the first prototype took to the air.  The Kingfisher was a monoplane with a centerline float or fixed landing gear.  Testing went quickly and in May the Kingfisher became the first monoplane to be catapulted from an American ship. 

The Kingfisher soon found itself in Navy service with 54 OS2U-1s ordered.  This was followed by an order for 158 OS2U-2s (the majority of which were wheeled examples) and 1006 OS2U-3s.  In addition to the US Navy the Kingfisher found itself in the service of the Fleet Air Arm and the RAAF as well as flying for Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Dominican Republic and Cuba.

The Kit

While the Octopus name is new, the company isn't, as this is a Pavla release under a new name.  In fact the instructions and decals say Pavla rather than Octopus, and if you're familiar with earlier Pavla kits you know what you're getting with this one.  There's one tree of plastic parts, a handful of resin parts, a nice decal sheet and a vacuformed canopy.  The plastic parts are well molded and are similar in quality to other Pavla releases.  The resin parts are well cast and with a bit of cleanup should really look great, with the majority of the parts making up the interior.

Like most kits, not every detail is included in the kit, but Pavla goes the extra step by providing in the instructions information on how to add all that extra detailing.  Starting with the cockpit, there's a combination of plastic and resin pieces included as well as quite a few details outlined in the instructions.  If you do everything the instructions suggest you will have one very detailed interior.  Even out of the box the interior will be decent.  You've got two sections to worry about for the interior, namely the pilot's cockpit and the observer's station.  The observer's station also has the armament, consisting of one machine gun mounted in a ring mount.  Much of the mount will need to be scratchbuilt, but the instructions again do a great job of showing what needs to be added.

Putting all of this stuff into the fuselage is a bit daunting, but luckily the instructions are very clear in what goes where.  There's even a scrap view showing a side view with locations.  Not much chance of missing anything here.  The only thing that isn't provided in the kit or outlined in the instructions is sidewall detail.  Since the cockpit doesn't have a dedicated floor, you can see all the way down to the bottom of the fuselage and a bit of stringer detailing might be useful here.

Before you glue the fuselage together you'll have to decide on either the land or float version, as the land version will require you to open up the tail wheel well.  Once that decision is made, the rest of the assembly is very straightforward.  The wings are butt-joined against the fuselage, with no locating tabs anywhere.  In fact, the only locating information is a dashed line on the fuselage, which will make for some very interesting alignment issues.  I'd recommend making some sort of positive attachment arrangement and using a jig to make sure the wings are aligned with one another.  The same goes for the tailplanes as well.

Regardless of which choice you made in undercarriage arrangement, you definitely will want to take some time in putting this plane on its legs.  The landing gear choice is somewhat delicate and will require some care in getting all the struts aligned and positioned just right.  The float option might be a hair simpler, but dealing with the outrigger floats will prove challenging, even more so if the wings aren't perfectly aligned.

With all of that work done it's time to look at the decals (well, actually you should look at these first, so you know which version you're doing).  The decal sheet provides markings for five aircraft, three on floats and two on wheels.  The first wheeled example is an OS2U-1 of VO-3 based on the USS Mississippi during the fall of 1941.  This plane is finished in overall silver, with yellow wings, white cowling and blue tail.  Easily the most colorful of all the choices in this kit.  The second wheeled example is a Kingfisher Mk. I of an unidentified Royal Navy unit flying out of Ceylon and Indian bases.  It's camouflaged in blue gray over light gray.

Two of the three float examples are US Navy birds, with the first being an OS2U-3 finished in the three-color camouflage of sea blue, intermediate blue and white.  This particular plane rescued a Hellcat pilot at Truk on February 18, 1944.  The second USN float example is an OS2U-2, painted in blue-gray over light gray, and flying out of Texas in 1942.  This plane was used to train aircrews at the 3rd Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi.  The final float example is a Kingfisher Mk. I of No. 107 Squadron in the RAAF.  Coded A48-11, it operated from the Rathmines Air Base outside of Sydney.

The decal sheet is well printed and in excellent register.  The blue seems a bit light to me, but perhaps once down on a dark-colored aircraft it will look better.


Easily the best 1/72 Kingfisher out there, this kit will build up nicely out of the box.  By following the instructions with all the scratchbuilding information you can end up with a contest winner.  The large selection of markings offer something for everyone, so if you've been wanting to build a Kingfisher to put on the fantail of that scratchbuilt 1/72 battleship you've been working on, this is the kit for you.

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