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Three SB2U-1 Vindicators in flight.

The SB2U Vindicator was a dive bomber developed by Vought and used during World War II by the Allies. The Vindicator had a Pratt and Whitney R-1535-02 Wasp engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 391 km/h.[1]


A SB2U Vindicator taking off from an American aircraft carrier in 1941.

The Vindicator was designed in 1935 and was the first  monoplane dive bomber to be used by the United States Navy. Its first prototype, the XSB2U-1, first flew on January 6th, 1936. The aircraft entered service on December 20th, 1937, with squadron VB-3.[2]

By the time the United States entered World War II, the Vindicator was becoming obsolete. A number of them were destroyed during the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, and they were gradually replaced by SBD Dauntlesses as the war drew on. However several saw combat during the Battle of Midway, causing minor damage to a Japanese battleship. This was the only fighting the SB2U participated in. As they were phased out from active duty, many were instead used in training roles, a purpose it served well.[3]

The NMNA's SB2U-2 Vindicator.

Only one Vindicator is known to have survived to the present day. The aircraft, SB2U-2 BuNo. 1383, was the last to be delivered to the US Navy. It ditched in Lake Michigan during practice operations from the training carrier USS Wolverine (IX-64). During the 1990s, it was raised and restored, and is now on display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida.[4]


  • XSB2U-1 - Prototype; one built.
  • XSB2U-3 - Prototype fitted with floats; one built.
  • SB2U-1 - First production model; 54 built.
  • SB2U-2 - Similar to SB2U-1, but with equipment changes that increased weight; 58 built. 
  • SB2U-3 - LArger fuel capacity, heavier armament and stronger armor; 57 built.
  • V-156 - Export model for Great Britain and France; 74 built.

Specifications (SB2U-3)

  • Powerplant: one Pratt & Whitney R-1535-02 Twin Wasp Junior piston engine.
  • Horsepower: 825
  • Length: 34 feet
  • Wingspan: 42 feet
  • Height: 10 feet 3 inches
  • Crew: 2
  • Top speed: 250 mph
  • Cruising speed: 152 mph
  • Range: 1,117 miles
  • Ceiling: 23,600 feet
  • Empty weight: 5,623 lbs
  • Armament: 4 wing-mounted machine guns, 1 rear-facing machine gun in rear cockpit.
  • Bomb capacity: One 500 pound or 1,000 pound bomb.


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