Battlewagon Vought

95 Years Ago Today: Vought UO floatplane, arriving at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California, 8 July 1927, marked on its fuselage as being from USS Nevada (Battleship No. 36).

U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-HAN-142-2

The Vought UO was top-of-the-line a century ago at the time it was introduced in 1922.

As noted by Vought.org,

“As their superiority over potential competing types became evident, they became the only observation type in use on the fleet’s catapult-equipped combat ships. The 15 first-class battleships were each equipped with one or more UO-1s. Two or more UO-1s were used aboard each of the new scout cruisers comprising the Navy’s scouting fleet.”

The two-seat observation plane accomplished several firsts, including:

  • The first airplane to be catapulted from a battleship at night (26 November 1924, Lt. Dixie Kiefer off the USS. California in San Diego harbor while lit by the ship’s searchlights).
  • Vought’s first overseas sales (to Cuba and later to Peru).
  • One of the first new aircraft bought by the USCG— two used for chasing rum-runners during Prohibition.
  • The first airplane hooked in midair from the Navy dirigible USS Los Angeles (1929).

With just 141 aircraft built, the career of the Vought UO series was limited, and, obsolete only a decade after being introduced, they were retired by the Navy by 1933.

One comment

  • I wonder how many went on to fly as civilian aircraft on the lakes and coastal regions of the country.

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