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United States' Vought SB2U Vindicator dive bomber


Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bomber:
United States' Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bomber:
United States' Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Vought SB2U Vindicator dive bomber:


The Naval Bureau of Aeronautics (BUAER) ordered the XSB2U-1 protypes in October 1934.4 At the same time two other monoplane (XBT-1 and XSBA-1) and four biplane (XB2G-1, XSBC-2, XSBF-1, XSB3U-1) were also considered as the Navy wanted to know if monoplanes could be operated better from carriers than biplanes.4

The Vought SB2U Vindicator was the United States Navy's first monoplane scout / bomber designed in 1935.1,2,4

The SB2U was also all metal, which was an innovation for an aircraft of the 1930s.1,2

The SB2U was fabric covered.3,4


The SB2U beat out the SB3U biplane in tests at the Anacostia Naval Station in 1936.1

Given Its Name

The name Vindicator wasn't used until the SB2U-3 model was being delivered to the United States Navy.1

Bombs Away

There was a device that held the bomb and pulled it clear of the plane when released.1 This was called the "trapeze."1

Landing Gear

The undercarriage would rotate 90° and retract rearward into the wing.1

There was an arrestor hook for carrier landing.1 The Royal Navy used a different arrestor hook on their aircraft.1


The XSB2U-1 first flew on January 4, 1936.1,4

During the summer of 1936 the Navy conducted trials that showed that the monoplanes were superior than the biplanes.4


The SB2Us were produced in Stratford, Connecticut at the Vought Sikorsky plant.1

An order was placed for 54 SB2U-1s in October 1936.2,4

An order for 58 SB2U-2s was placed in January 1938.4

The SB2U-3s were ordered in September 1939.4

  • XSB2U-1: 12
  • SB2U-1: 542,4
  • SB2U-2: 582,4
  • SB2U-3: 572,4
  • SB2U Total: 1704
  • V-156 / Chesapeake: 742
  • Total: 2442
    • Manufacturer: Change Vought Division of United Aircraft Corporation4
    • Manufacturing location: Stratford, Connecticut4


  • XSB2U-1: Prototype.1
  • XSB2U-3: Prototype with floats added in 1939.1,4
  • SB2U-1: First delivered in December 1937.2,4
  • SB2U-2: First delivered in late 1938.2,4
  • SB2U-3: First delivered in late 1940.2 Carried more fuel.2,4 It could carry external fuel tanks.2 Gun armament was heavier.2 Additional armor protection.2 First model to be called Vindicator.2
  • V-156: Version sold to France and the United Kingdom.1 Had four forward firing machine guns and could cary 1,500 lb / 680 kg of bombs.1
  • V-156-F3: French version.4
  • V-156-B1: Sold to Britain.4


The SB2U Vindicators were used by Britain, France, and the United States.2.4

First Assignment

The VB-3 squadron, of the USS Saratoga, was the first to receive the SB2Us on December 20, 1937.1,4

Aircraft Carriers

SB2U-1s and SB2U-2s equipped seven United States Navy squadrons by 1940 on the carriers Lexington, Saratoga, Ranger, and Wasp.2,4

United States Marine Corps

The United States Marines had two squadrons of Vindicators in combat.1 These were the SB2U-3s.2,4

Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway was one of the few campaigns that the Vindicator saw combat in.1,2,4


As the SB2U was replaced in front line units by the Douglas SBD Dauntless it became a very capable training aircraft.1


The French received 204 / 24 of the 40 ordered Vought V-156s and some of these were captured by the Germans.1,2 It is reported that they may have been used to bomb Dover but it wasn't confirmed.1

United Kingdom

The Royal Navy received 50 of the SB2Us and called them the Vought V-156 Chesapeake.1,2,3,4 They were unable to be used on escort carriers because of their long take off.1 The V-156s became land based trainers.1,2


  Vought SB2U Vindicator
Type Scout2, Dive bomber2
Crew 22
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-1535-96 Twin Wasp Junior2
OR Pratt & Whitney R-1535-02 Twin Wasp Junior2
Cylinders Radial 142
HP 8252
Propeller blades 22
Span 42'2
12.8 m2
Length 34'2
10.36 m2
Height 10' 3"2
3.12 m2
Wing area  
Cruising speed  
Service ceiling  
  Vought SB2U-1 Vindicator
Type Dive bomber4
Crew 24
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-1535-964
Cylinders Radial 144
HP 8254
Propeller blades 2 variable pitch4
Span 42'4
Length 34'4
Wing area 305 ft2 4
Empty 4,676 lb2,4
2,121 kg2
Loaded 7,278 lb2,4
3,301 kg2
Speed @ 9,500' 250 mph4
Cruising speed 143 mph4
Service ceiling 27,400'4
Range - 1,000 lb bombs 635 miles4
Nose 1: 0.3" MG2
1: .50 cal MG4
Rear cockpit 1: 0.3" MG2
1: .30 cal MG4
Bombs 1,000 lb2,4
454 kg2
  Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator
Type Scout1, Bomber1, Dive Bomber3
Crew 21
Engine (Type) 1: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Junior3
1: Pratt & Whitney R-1535-02 Twin Wasp Junior piston1
1: R-1535-1024
Cylinders Radial1,3
HP 7503, 8251
Propeller blades 21
Span 42'1,3
12.8 m1
Length 33' 11"3, 34'1
10.36 m1
Height 9' 10"3, 10' 3"1
3.12 m1
Wing area 305 ft2 1
28.33 m2 1
Empty 5,623 lb1, 5,634 lb2
2,555 kg2, 2,556 kg1
Loaded 6,500 lb3, 9,400 lb1, 9,421 lb2
4,273 kg1,2
Speed 250 mph3
Speed @ 9,500' /
2,895 m
242 mph1, 243 mph2
391 kph1,2
Cruising speed 152 mph2
245 kph2
Climb 1,070'/minute2
326 m/minute2
Service ceiling 23,600'1,2
7,193 m2, 7,195 m1
Range 1,000 miles3, 1,117 miles1, 1,120 miles2
1,802 km1,2
Armament 2: 0.5" MG2
Forward firing 2: 12.7 mm MG1
Wing 4: MG3
Rear cockpit 1: MG3
1: 12.7 mm MG1
1: .50 cal MG4
Bombs 1,000 lb1,2,3
454 kg1,2


  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  4. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
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