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Mon Jun 25 2012, 08:14PM

Registered Member #5

Posts: 4415

The SBU-1 evolved as a two-seat dive bomber version of the XF3U-1, which competed for the Navy two-seat fighter purchase to ensure that Vought got a return on its fighter investment. This aircraft was proposed as a land biplane replacement for the SU series. It became the first aircraft of its type to exceed 200 mph. It also featured a controllable-pitch propeller and NACA cowl and a twin row radial R-1535 P&W twin Wasp-Junior engine.

As expected, politics caught up with the two-seat fighter program and the Navy dropped it. Although the XF3U-1 had been evaluated as a scout/ bomber, Vought decided to construct another airplane rather than modify the XF3U-1. This airplane utilized the engine and most of the equipment from the XF3U1. It completed its first tests in 1934, and a contract for 84 SBU-1's was awarded in January 1935.

The SBU-1 was the first airplane of its type to exceed 200 mph and it also featured a controllable-pitch propeller and a new NACA cowl. It was the first Vought airplane with a canopy to protect the cockpit occupants. It also had adjustable cowling gills on the cowl trailing edge to obtain better control of the cooling air flow over the engine cylinders. This feature permitted greater speeds and soon became standard for all air-cooled engines that incorporated a deep-chord cowl. The design team headed by Rex Beisel of Vought and A. L. McCain and F.M. Thomas of Pratt & Whitney were awarded the prestigious Manley and Wright awards.

In 1937 the Navy placed an order for forty additional SBU's. These were designated SBU-2 and featured the improved Pratt & Whitney R-1535-98 Wasp engine. The SBU's gradually replaced the SU series in service. However, the airplane never achieved the widespread usage of its predecessors. One reason was that the Navy began the transition to monoplanes in lieu of biplanes, as the SBU was becoming operational. The increased threat of war in Europe hastened the introduction of monoplanes with better performance and improved characteristics. As a result, most of the SBU's served in stateside training roles, and most were phased out of service in the early 1940's.

One two-place biplane was built for the Navy and first flight was in 1936. It was basically a SBU-2 with retractable landing gear. It was offered to the Navy at the same time as XSB2U-1 in case the monoplane was not bought by the Navy



33.25 ft

Overall Length

27.79 ft


10.00 ft

Weights and Capacities

Empty Weight

3753 lb

Gross Weight

5664 lb

Useful Load

Fuel Capacity

145 gal

Oil Capacity

10 gal

Powerplant Characteristics

Type: P & W SG-1535-64


700 hp


1830 in3


Size (length X diameter)


Maximum Speed, Sea Level

180 mph

Landing Speed, Sea Leavel

65.00 mph

Stall Speed, Sea Level

Initial Rate-of-Climb

1315 ft/min

Cruise Speed, Sea Level

Range at Cruise Speed

850 miles

Service Ceiling

24000 ft

Absolute Ceiling

Crew: 2

Armament: 1 fixed machine gun, fuselage (synchronized)
1 flex machine gun in rear cockpit
Provisions for bomb racks on lower wings

As usual right click and save as for details.
Regards Duggy

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Tue Jun 26 2012, 01:32AM

These are really sweet Duggy.
Some of that geography looks a little familiar. Where were these taken? North Island? Coronado?
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Wed Jun 27 2012, 07:00PM

Registered Member #5

Posts: 4415
Yes Chris, a lot are from the San Diego area.
Photos 20/21 "The Flag Plane", what colours is it in ????????????????????
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Thu Jun 28 2012, 10:42AM

Morning Duggy.
Looking at the flag plane my first instinct would be red,however that's not the US Navy at that time.

I would say highly wax polished Navy Blue with white and black stencil numbering ,and natural white doped tail and rudder surfaces.

What say you Rudi?


[ Edited Thu Jun 28 2012, 10:46AM ]
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Thu Jun 28 2012, 03:01PM

Registered Member #17

Posts: 298

I'm with Chris about the dark Navy blue, as it seems to be the same grayscale or perhaps a bit darker than the blue stripe (inner) on the prop. Although the wing and tail surfaces appear to me to have a graphite quality about them, similar to the smoke box on a freshly painted American steam locomotive, so I'd say they were silver. Difficult to tell about the script though.. I'm initially thinking black and white, but the more I look, the dark could be the same Navy Blue on the fuselage, and the lighter NAVY script, could be yellow, as it does not appear as bright as the panel outline beneath the canopy rail.. which I'm guessing is either white or silver.

[ Edited Fri Jun 29 2012, 12:43PM ]
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