Kitty Hawk 1/32 OS2U Kingfisher
KIT #: KH 32016
PRICE: $99.00 SRP
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit with photo etch parts


The Vought OS2U Kingfisher was an American catapult-launched observation floatplane. It was a compact mid-wing monoplane, with a large central float and small stabilizing floats. Performance was modest, because of its light engine. The OS2U could also operate on fixed, wheeled, taildragger landing gear.

The OS2U was the main shipboard observation aircraft used by the United States Navy during World War II, and 1,519 of the aircraft were built. It served on battleships and cruisers of the US Navy, with the United States Marine Corps in Marine Scouting Squadron Three (VMS-3), with the United States Coast Guard at coastal air stations, at sea with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, and with the Soviet Navy. The Royal Australian Air Force also operated a few Kingfishers from shore bases.

The Naval Aircraft Factory OS2N was the designation of the OS2U-3 aircraft built by the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The OS2U first flew on 1 March 1938.


There have been a lot of people wanting a Kingfisher in this scale and now we have one. The box does not state which variant is being kitted, but for all practical purposes, it does not matter as the differences were mainly internal and consisted of upgraded engines. Most of the Kingfishers built were the OS2U-3, and that is how we'll treat this kit.

The first thing I do with a kit is to look over the sprues. This one is no different in terms of surface detail from their earlier releases, which is to say it is excellent. I've gotten used to the small engraved rivet detail that kit makers use and it is no longer a source of anguish. I also look for sink areas (none found) and possible issues with ejector pin marks or towers. I did find a few parts with the towers including the engine cylinder halves and wheel halves so that will require some careful clean up. The only obvious area where ejector pin marks will be an issue is on the cockpit rear bulkhead where there are several on the head cushion area that will be nearly impossible to easily correct.

You would expect a lot of detail in a 1/32 kit and you get it. The engine alone with its individual exhaust stacks leading into a collector will take up the first page of the instructions. The pushrod piece will prove to be a challenge to remove from the sprue as the attachment points are down in between individual pushrods. There is a full accessory section containing oil and fuel tanks that fits behind the engine. On the back side of this is the instrument panel and gun butt. Kitty Hawk offers decals for the instrument panel and side consoles if you wish to use it.

The interior itself is quite detailed and it is here that you'll find pretty much all the photo etch. This includes harnesses that you build up with the flat belts and individual buckles. If done right, this makes for a most realistic representation. There is a rear machine gun and the front of the 'turret' uses part of the photo etch as well. Apparently the gunner was not belted in. In addition there is a full radio suite as well as the other usual braces and mounts. With most of the radios under a rear shelf, I'm not sure how much will be seen, but you'll now it is there.

One can build the kit as either a float plane or land plane as the Kingfisher was operated both ways. But first, one needs to attach a goodly number of bits and pieces to the inside of the fuselage including a partial floor for the guy in back. There are also a number of bits to attch to the outside of the fuselage including what looks like maintenance stands around the engine. I'd check references to see if these are required or not. The kit instructions show all the engine panels being attached, which sort of negates the purpose of all that detail in the engine compartment.

Wings are upper and lower halves on each side with two piece ailerons and flaps that fit in the back. A rather solid looking wing attachment piece is trapped between the wing halves as well. Also in upper and lower halves are the rudder, elevators and horizontal stabilizers. From what I gather looking at photos, the control surfaces were normally in the neutral position, probably via a lock of some sort. Makes sense as you wouldn't want these flopping around during strong winds or heavy seas.

Hopefully you decided early in the build if you want floats or wheels and figure out what holes to open as frankly, the instructions don't tell you. For the floats the attachment points are quite small and frankly, I would have thought that something more robust would have been provided. This lack of info on hole opening includes those for the bomb racks. Beaching gear is provided and the large mounting holes are already provided for this feature.

Instructions are well drawn and provide painting information, though are, as mentioned, totally lacking in information on opening holes for wheels, floats or bomb racks. Shows the importance of reading the instructions through before starting assembly. Markings come on a huge decal sheet along with a smaller one. There are markings for no fewer than six aircraft. Two of them are pre-war yellow wing planes for aircraft carried on the USS Arizona (floats) and a wheeled version from the USS Pennsylvania. The box art plane is listed as meing with NAS Corpus Christi in 1942 so was not involved in the Pearl Harbor raid. This one is shown as being light blue over white. Probably not. Probably blue-grey over light gull grey. In fact, several of the color callouts for the camo schemes are questionable, so I'd recommend research. For instance there is a plane with insignia not used until after September 1943 that is listed as 1941. This option does not even provide an upper surface color reference and shows the underside as white. Another is a Soviet plane in a very light grey over white, while the final option is a British Kingfisher I in dark green/medium sea grey over hemp (a color that did not exist until the late 1980s). Clearly whomever does markings research at Kitty Hawk needs to be transferred to another job. The decals themselves are very nicely printed and should prove to be both opaque and extremely thin. I'm sure most will gravitate towards the yellow wings options as they are both very colorful.


Fans of this aircraft have been clamoring for one in 1/32 scale for a very long time. I have no idea how accurate the kit is as I know that the Monogram 1/48 version suffers from a float that is the wrong length. Aside from the issues with the instructions and camo info, this one looks like it will be a real beauty when completed. I would not doubt at all if there are aftermarket markings on the way, but really, the kit decals provide an excellent selection of options.


December 2015

Thanks to Kitty Hawk Models and Glen Coleman for the preview kit. You can get or at least order yours at your local retailer. 

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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