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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 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.
The first production model of the Buffalo, the aircraft had a 950-horsepower Wright "Cyclone" engine. A total of 54 were manufactured.
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.
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
Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo Characteristics
Recommended Books about the Brewster F2A Buffalo
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