Olive-Drab.com Military HQ
What's New? | Olive-Drab Directory | Adv Search  
  Home >> Firepower >> Aviation >> WW II Fighters >> F2A

Vehicles Weapons History Uniforms/Gear Rations War Dogs Photos/Video Info/Intel FAQ Store Facebook/Blogs

Military Theme
T-Shirts & Stuff
Visit Olive-Drab.com's sister site for
over 10,000 free military vehicle photos!

Brewster F2A Buffalo

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was a shipboard fighter aircraft used by the U.S. Navy early in World War II. The F2A was the first monoplane fighter aircraft in the U.S. Navy, and the F2A-3 saw action with the United States Marine Corps at the Battle of Midway. But it was an inferior aircraft that only found success in the Finnish Air Force under the designation B-239. Other Allies, including the British Royal Air Force, used the F2A against the Japanese in the Pacific theater.

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo fighter, 2 August 1942. Pilot is Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Clifton, USN
Brewster F2A-3 "Buffalo" fighter, 2 August 1942. Pilot is Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Clifton, USN.

Today in WW II: 19 May 1944 British troops capture Aquino airfield in the Liri valley SE of Rome, Italy.  More 
19 May 1945 272 USAAF B-29 Superfortress bombers attack Hamamatsu, 120 miles (192 km) from Tokyo, as a secondary target after raid on Tachikawa aborted by weather.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Brewster F2A Buffalo in World War II

The Brewster F2A was created in response to a U.S. Navy request for a replacement for the Grumman F3F pursuit plane. Brewster Aeronautical Corp., Long Island City, NY, won the contract against larger, better known competitors.

The F2A Buffalo entered service late in 1939, when F2A-1s were put into Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3). But the F2A saw action in Europe only in the fighter squadrons of American allies, including the British and Belgians. Though the aircraft was no match for the German Luftwaffe, it was still in demand early in the war because of the limited supply of monoplane fighters.

In the Pacific, the F2A Buffalo was in service during the first six months of the war by British Commonwealth forces defending Malaya and Burma. At the time F2As were already being transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps, which stationed them at Midway Island and Palmyra Atoll. The Marines were displeased with the limited performance of the Buffalo, referring to the aircraft as a "flying coffin."

The F2A Buffalo's sole American combat use was at the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942, where it performed poorly against the Japanese Zero. The Marine Fighting Squadron 22 (VMF-221) lost 13 out of 20 F2A-3s.

For the rest of the war, the F2A played a role as a training aircraft, particularly in 1943, when it was used for advanced training duty, helping pilots hone their skills before joining operational squadrons.

Brewster F2A Buffalo Models and Production History

The Brewster XF2A-1 prototype beat out the Grumman XF4F-2 in a competition to replace the Grumman F3F biplane fighter. A production contract to build the F2A-1 was granted in June 1938. However, production problems delayed its arrival until late in 1939. Of the 54 F2A-1s manufactured, only 11 entered service with the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Navy ordered a final 108 F2As in January 1941 in the form of the F2A-3, which had numerous improvements. But the Buffalo had troubles with its highly sensitive retractable landing gear and a powerplant that required significant maintenance. In addition, it could not stand up to Japanese or German fighters, and was soon outclassed by other American fighter planes such as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

The remaining F2A-1s were modified, and then sold to Finland. The Finnish Air Force used them successfully against Soviet aircraft between 1941 and 1944, and against the German Luftwaffe in 1944 and 1945.

A total of 509 F2A Buffalos were manufactured by Brewster. The three models are as follows.

Model F2A-1

The first production model of the Buffalo, the aircraft had a 950-horsepower Wright "Cyclone" engine. A total of 54 were manufactured.

Model F2A-2

The F2A-2 had a 1200-horsepower Wright "Cyclone" engine, along with improvements including a better propeller and integral flotation gear. A total of 43 were ordered by the U.S. Navy.

Model F2A-3

The final version of the F2A Buffalo, this aircraft had a longer fuselage, increased fuel and ammunition capacity, and additional armor. But although these improvements increased the aircraft's weight and range, they also reduced speed, maneuverability, climb rate, and service ceiling. The U.S. Navy and Marines ordered a combined total of 108 F2A-3s.

Brewster F2A-1 Buffalo Characteristics

ArmamentFour .50 cal. machine guns (two firing forward through the engine cowling; one in each wing)
Bomb loadN/A
EngineWright 950 hp. R-1820-40 radial
Maximum speed301 mph
Cruising speed258 mph
Range1,000 mi.
Ceiling33,000 ft.
Span35 ft.
Length26 ft.
Height11 ft. 11 in.
Weight3,875 lbs. empty; 5,040 lbs. loaded

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo Characteristics

ArmamentFour .50 cal. machine guns (two firing forward through the engine cowling; one in each wing)
Bomb loadN/A
EngineWright 1200 hp. R-1820-40 radial
Maximum speed320 mph
Cruising speed171 mph
Range1,680 mi.
Ceiling30,000 ft.
Span35 ft.
Length26 ft. 4 in.
Height12 ft. 1 in.
Weight4,894 lbs. empty; 7,253 lbs. loaded

Brewster F2A-1 Buffalo fighter, of Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) At Naval Air Station, North Island, CA, 9 September 1940. It is painted in McClelland Barclay experimental camouflage design number 1. Note gun camera mounted on the starboard fuselage, forward
Brewster F2A-1 "Buffalo" fighter, of Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) At Naval Air Station, North Island, CA, 9 September 1940. It is painted in McClelland Barclay experimental camouflage design number 1. Note gun camera mounted on the starboard fuselage, forward.

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo fighter, in flight, 2 August 1942, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Clifton
Brewster F2A-3 "Buffalo" fighter, in flight, 2 August 1942, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Clifton.

Brewster F2A-3 fighter, circa 1941
Brewster F2A-3 fighter, circa 1941.

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo fighter, probably from Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212) receives maintenance in a camouflaged revetment at Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, Hawaii, 25 April 1942
Brewster F2A-3 "Buffalo" fighter, probably from Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212) receives maintenance in a camouflaged revetment at Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, Hawaii, 25 April 1942.

Recommended Books about the Brewster F2A Buffalo

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: f2a buffalo. Then click the Search button.

Find at Amazon:  Military Issue equipment, clothing, boots, MREs, MOLLE gear and much more.

  Home >> Firepower >> Aviation >> WW II Fighters >> F2A What's New? | Olive-Drab Directory