Vought SB2U Vindicator

An SB2U from USS Ranger in November 1941.

An SB2U from USS Ranger in November 1941.

The SB2U Vought Vindicator dive bomber was a single-engine low-wing board produced by the U.S. Vought in the thirties and used in naval air forces of theUnited States of America,France and theUnited Kingdom during the Second World War.



The design of the Vindicator born (with the initials of project V-156) during 1935 when the U.S. Navy Vought advanced to the request for the construction of two prototypes, the different characteristics, in order to evaluate the construction of a new aircraft tasks allocated to exploration and bombing (scout / bomber in the nomination then in force, from which the acronym SB).

The two aircraft were presented respectively in monoplane configuration (designation XSB2U) and biplane (XSB3U), comparative tests were carried out in the summer of 1936, and the results were favorable to the formula monoplane which also betrayed the direct descendants than the biplane Vought SBU (however made only three years earlier) and on October 26 the same year, the Vought received an order for 54 aircraft serial number (designation SB2U-1), equipped with Pratt & Whitney R-1535 radial at 14 cylinder air-cooled.

The development of the Vindicator proceeded with version SB2U-2 which included changes in detail and was ordered by the U.S. Navy in 58 units.

In 1939, a copy of the series SB2U-2 was modified by replacing the landing gear with floating boots, this prototype was designated XSB2U-3 but got little production.

The designation SB2U-3 was taken up to identify the third version of the series that differed from the previous ones for the armor of ‘compartment, the increased capacity of fuel tanks and the defensive armament of greater caliber, the order of the U.S. Navy for aircraft of this version amounted to 57 units. From this version were derived specimens exported toFrance and theUnited Kingdom.

Technical Description


The Vindicator was a low wing monoplane from all-metal coated metal part and in part made up of canvas. He was the first U.S. Navy aircraft with low wing retractable landing gear, it was equipped with wing tips folded for stowage in the hangars of aircraft carriers and retaining hook at the rear of the fuselage.


The propulsion was entrusted to the radial engine Pratt & Whitney R-1535, a 14-cylinder air-cooled double star; variants used in R-1535-95 (SB2U SB2U-1 and-2) and R-1535-02 (SB2U- 3, V-156 and V-156B-1) were dispensing, in both cases, the power of 825 hp.

The propeller was kind bipala; on the aircraft was installed a system for reversing the direction of rotation in order to reduce the speed during attacks in beaten, but its use is certainly not operational and the reduction of speed would have been obtained by the extraction of the trolley during the attack phase.


The defensive armament was constituted by two machine-guns, a pivoting arranged at the end of the passenger at the disposal of the navigator and a fixed arranged in the central section of the right wingtip, shooting outside radius of the helix. In the first two versions of the two weapons were caliber in 0308 (equal to7.62 mm), while the version SB2U-3 machine guns were installed from0.50 in(12.7 mm).

The offensive load consisted of a bomb (for a maximum of 1000 lb) transported on a sort of cradle disposed beneath the passenger compartment which, by means of a tilting movement, it allowed the release outside the propeller disk.

Operational use

Delivered to the departments of the U.S. Navy in 1937, became operational at the Vindicator departments embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, USS Saratoga, USS Ranger and USS Wasp. As early as 1940, however, the aircraft was considered obsolete, because it is too heavy for the power developed by the engine.

The first aircraft to see combat were the V-156 Aéronautique ship that did not consider assigning them to units operating on its aircraft carrier Béarn, but they destined to units operating from bases on the ground. Used primarily against the German invader (although there were no transactions on the faceItaly) suffered several knockdowns. The remaining specimens, some of which fell into German hands, they were restored to service.

The second batch of aircraft ordered from France was diverted to the United Kingdom following the French surrender, the British government gave them to the Fleet Air Arm who gave them the name of Chesapeake (name of the Chesapeake Bay, off which took place a decisive battle in the American War of Independence). Cheesecake jokingly dubbed by the crew, 14 aircraft were assigned to escort carriers HMS Archer. The Chesapeake, already in November 1941, were replaced in front-line units by the Fairey Swordfish and intended roles in training and towing targets.

The Vindicator saw action even in the ranks of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, while some specimens resulted destroyed atPearl Harbor, others arrived to participate in the Battle of Midway before being used, in this case, the tasks of training.

As evidence of obsolescence achieved during the last combat missions of the Vindicators were jokingly dubbed by the crew (often already accustomed to the use of more modern machines) as Vibrators (vibrators) or Wind indicators (indicators of wind).


  • XSB2U-1: prototype.
  • SB2U-1: first version of series production, carried out in 54 specimens.
  • SB2U-2: version made of 58 units.
  • XSB2U-3: prototype version seaplane; conversion of a SB2U-2 and realized in a single copy.
  • SB2U-3: version made in 57 copies.
  • V-156B: export version intended for the French Marine Nationale, made of 24 pieces.
  • V-156B-1: export version intended for the British Fleet Air Arm, ridesignata locally Chesapeake Mk. And I made 50 pieces.



  • Aéronautique naval


  • Fleet Air Arm


  • United StatesNavy
  • United StatesMarine Corps

Comparable aircraft


  • Aichi D3A



  • Curtiss SB2CHelldiver
  • DouglasSBD Dauntless

Military aircraft of World War II

Military Aircraft from 1931 to 1945

U.S.military aircraft

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