The Vought Vindicator isn’t a superstar. It didn’t set any records, it didn’t win any major battles and it wasn’t famous in its own time. It was the first monoplane to equip a US Navy squadron, but by the time World War II rolled around it had largely been superseded by more advanced planes. It wasn’t particularly well-liked by its pilots; they called it names like the “wind indicator” and the “vibrator”. So why, then, does the Vindicator hold such a special place in my mind? Partly for for that very reason. Flying for the US Marine Corps and the French Navy, Vindicators played their part in the early stages of World War II despite insurmountable odds. At the battle of Midway, Captain Richard Fleming won a posthumous Medal of Honor flying a Vindicator, and French Navy Vindicators flew perilous raids against the advancing Germans. We tend to gloss over the support players in history, the ones who for whatever reason never become truly famous despite contributing their share to its outcome. But as the Vindicator shows, even the most seemingly insignificant figures have their stories to tell. So here’s to the Vindicator—and the underdog in all of us.
— Gray Stanback, college student and aviation enthusiast