Can anyone give clues on the type of ship and seaplane and the time frame?enter image description here

  • 1
    Any clue as to nation?
    – Zither13
    Apr 15, 2015 at 19:09
  • Biplanes were common in anti-submarine warfare in the interwar years and beginning of World War 2 because of their ability to takeoff and land at low speed from short runways. I believe all nations with an anti-submarine service used them at some point.. Apr 16, 2015 at 3:10
  • 2
    I thought we had seen a similar photo on this site recently. Haven't been able to find it (so far).
    – andy256
    Apr 16, 2015 at 11:22

3 Answers 3


The seamen look USN-ish, the barrels of a heavy triple turret are in view in the foreground. This looks like the quarterdeck of a USN 14 inch gunned battleship in the inter-war period. In fact the aircraft looks near identical to the one in the photo of the Oklahoma allegedly circa 1920 attached. Not that the ship is necessarily the Oklahoma.

US Navy and Marine Corps Museum/Naval Aviation Museum, Photo No. 1985.055.001.038

US Navy and Marine Corps Museum/Naval Aviation Museum, Photo No. 1985.055.001.038

Further research indicates that the aircraft in question is very probably a Vought UO-1 which means that the original photo probably dates to between 1922 and the late 1920's. Here is a better photo of one of the OU-1s from/on the California (the more I look at this latter photo the more I suspect that the original photo was also on the California and only minutes before or after this one - The officers and men are in the same rig and look at the way the rope on deck in the mid-ground is laying, ... even the shadows are similar sized and oriented):Here is a better photo of a OU-1 from the California

San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive

Conclusion: the plane is a Vought UO-1 and the ship is the USS California, BB44.

  • 1
    Looks like you got it, good job!
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 6, 2015 at 23:25
  • Really, that's quite some sleuthing Jan 7, 2015 at 14:35
  • Good work. The various ropes on deck show firstly that you are correct, secondly that the OP's photo is before this one. The earlier photo shows the rope coil to the right of the image neatly coiled, the second photo shows that rope has just been used.
    – andy256
    Jan 7, 2015 at 23:21
  • As an "Okie" myself, it is really amusing to see that name on the Oklahoma's lifeboat.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 8, 2015 at 18:58

The ship and plane look very similar to this one:

via San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive's Flickr stream. Another picture in the same stream shows the same scene from a different angle, including the guns.

The ship, its deck and launching mechanism, the plane and its landing gear look almost identical.

That would mean you're looking at the USS West Virginia some time before it was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • All biplanes look like biplanes. What about these two is similar beyond being biplanes? Apr 16, 2015 at 3:11
  • I think TvF is right here. The plane is most probably a Vought OU-1. The OU-1 was a scouting plane with two seats. It could be equipped with wheels or float gear like here. The Vought OU-1 went into service in 1922. There's also a single seater fighter version called FU-1 that was used beginning in 1926. Links: Vought UO-1, Vought FU-1
    – gdir
    Apr 16, 2015 at 7:22
  • The identification of the ship is more difficult. It seems that the UO-1/FU-1 were assigned to all major batlle ships of the Pacific Fleet. Wikipedia
    – gdir
    Apr 16, 2015 at 7:35

West Virginia had four twin 16"/45 turrets, so the original photo can't be a Colorado Class battleship.

We need one with a triple turret, like the prior Tennessee class, with 4 triple 14"/45 turrets, which had only Tennessee &California. The New Mexico Class seems to look the most like it, especially as to the angle of seeing the guns with the shorter fantail (Mississippi, New Mexico & Idaho). But the Pennsylvania Class's triple turrets are also a possibility (this included only Arizona & Pennsylvania).

We'll try to ID the plane later, which we're pretty sure is a Vought.

EDIT: Yup, Vought UO-1. Here's a plan of it that lets you see how the nose matches up, the length of the wings, &c.

The photo shows it in a cradle on land, but in this case it's specifically one off the Tennessee. An image search on Google will keep you busy for an hour.

Vought already had a two-seat observation plane, the UO-1, basically a VE with additional fuselage streamlining and a Wright J-3 radial engine.

This was developed into the Vought FU that served 1927-29. The UO-1 first flew in 1922, went into service on the USS Richmond in 1923. After a variety of engines and minor modifications, the last were retired in 1933. (The Vought site.) So your temporal window is 1923-1933. (The earliest possible ships were commissioned in 1916 and retired 1946, let alone the later classes.)

  • So we have the plane, and it's one of seven ships, in a 10-year span, but unless you can find something unique in the fantail, that's the closest we can get.
    – Zither13
    Apr 19, 2015 at 10:54

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