DescriptionThe Brewster F2A Buffalo is an American fighter aircraft which saw service early in World War II.
Designed and built by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation, it was one of the first U.S. monoplanes with an arrestor hook and other modifications for aircraft carriers. The Buffalo won a competition against the Grumman F4F Wildcat in 1939 to become the U.S. Navy's first monoplane fighter aircraft. Although superior to the Grumman F3F biplane it replaced, and the early F4Fs, the Buffalo was largely obsolete when the United States entered the war, being unstable and overweight, especially when compared to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
Several nations, including Finland, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, ordered the Buffalo. The Finns were the most successful with their Buffalos, flying them in combat against early Soviet fighters with excellent results. During the Continuation War of 1941–1944, the B-239s (de-navalized F2A-1) operated by the Finnish Air Force proved capable of engaging and destroying most types of Soviet fighter aircraft operating against Finland at that time and achieving in the first phase of that conflict 32 Soviet aircraft shot down for every B-239 lost, and producing 36 Buffalo "aces".
RAAF, RNZAF Service.
The Brewster F2A-1 was test-flown in January 1938, and was the first monoplane fighter used by the US Navy. Improved versions, including the F2A-2 and -3 were purchased as Buffaloes in 1940 by Finland, Belgium and England. The RAF found that the Buffalo, with its large, rotund fuselage and underpowered engine, had many operational limitations and was unsuitable for the European war theatre.
As a result, the Buffaloes were transferred to the Far East where a number of these aircraft were taken over by the two RAAF fighter units in Malaya – Nos 21 and 453 Squadrons. At the outbreak of Japanese hostilities, the RAAF, RAF, and RNZAF Buffaloes, supported by Dutch Buffaloes, fought gallantly but were out-classed and outnumbered by the Japanese Zeros.
Meantime, Allied forces were grouping in Australia to halt the Japanese advance, and although fighter aircraft were at a premium, 17 Buffaloes (A51-1/17) were delivered to the RAAF for home defence. These aircraft were taken on strength between June and October 1942, and served with Nos 24, 25, 85, and 87 Squadrons. The RAAF Buffaloes were used for a period of 12 months in photo-reconnaissance and air defence roles. During this time, four aircraft were written off (A51-2, -4, -5 and -6) and the remaining 13 Buffaloes were progressively transferred to the US 5th Air Force.
Buffalo activities in Australia were limited, but in Malaya the Buffalo pilots of Nos 21 and 453 Squadrons left behind a record of heroism and sacrifice rarely surpassed in RAAF history.
For detailed histories of the RAAF Buffalos, click here.
Specifications below from the RAAF Museum website are for the Buffalo Mk 1.
- 8.02 m (26 ft 4 in)
- 10.67 m (35 ft)
- 3.68 m (12 ft 1 in)
- Wing Area:
- 209 sq ft (19.4 sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 2100 kg (4630 lb)
- loaded 3200 kg (7055 lb)
- One 1,200 hp Wright Cyclone radial engine.
- Max speed 504 km/h (272 kt)
- Cruise Speed:
- 410 km/h (221 kt)
- 1046 km (565 nm)
- Rate of Climb:
- Initial climb 698 m (2290 ft)/min
- Service Ceiling:
- 30,500 ft (9296 m).