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May 09, 2021, 09:04 AM
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Obscure Airplane Highlight of the Day : Vought XO5U-1

An alphabetical stroll through the history of aviation. Day 24, X

Vought XO5U-1: Since the US military likes to give every experimental airplane a designation that starts with X, thereís an endless list of X airplanes. So how about one that is completely irrelevant in the history of aviation?

Between the wars, the US was looking for a catapult launched, single float, biplane with folding wings. The contract eventually went to Curtiss for the SOC. But several companies took a shot at the contract. Voughtís entry was the XO5U-1.

The XO5U-1, or O5U if you donít want to type so much, was a high performance biplane with dramatic tapered wings, four ailerons and huge flaps on the upper wings. It was powered by a large Pratt & Whitney R-1340 so presumably it was quite the performer. The O5U which was essentially a continuation of Voughtís earlier biplane designs, had one really cool feature that most other catapult launched floatplanes didnít have. It was amphibious. A very narrow, tail dragger gear was retracted into the center float. Iím sure given how narrow, top heavy and short coupled it was that it was a real treat to handle on pavement.

The O5U was a real barn burner in the production department with a whopping single example. Since it didnít win the contract, obviously it never went into production. It managed to survive almost a year until it was crashed in 1938. Kind of a bummer that such a cool high performance, unique and cool looking airplane didnít amount to anything.
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