INDEX OF NAVAL AIRCRAFT
|Brewster F2A Buffalo|
Buffalo AS417 of 759 FAA sqdn
Since the aircraft was superior to the Seversky XNF-1 and its chief competitor, the Grumman XF4F-2 (Grumman F4F-2 Wildcat), was not ready, the Buffalo was initially selected as a new fighter for the US Navy. The Navy accepted the XF2A-1 during June of 1938 and ordered series production of the F2A-1 for its carriers. Fifty-nine aircraft had been built by 1939. Altogether, 750 were built.
A total of 27 Buffaloes entered the Fleet Air Arm register. 26 Buffalo Is were diverted from a Belgium contract following the invasion by Germany in 1940. In September 1940, the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough tested Brewster serial 430 built for Belgium. Flight testing the Brewster Buffalo These are excerpts from reports from the UK to the USA and subsequently archived at the National Air & Space Museum.
The first RN delivery was to TOC 804 sqd at Hatston - tested on July 1940-September 1940 (AS422). By March 1941 Buffaloes were serving with 805 squadron based at Dekheila, HMS Eagle and Maleme. The aircraft saw limited action with the Fleet Air Arm.
Early in 1941, as test pilot for the Royal Navy, Capt Eric Brown RN flew scores of aircraft from many nations, including a Belgian-order Brewster 339 at Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton along with a Grumman Martlet. He described them "They were both tubby little single-seat fighters with a very purposeful air about them,". Brown noted that there were 40 of these planes, acquired when Belgium fell to the Germans, and shipped to Britain aboard HMS Furious. They were assembled at Burtonwood, later an American base.
Of the 27 Buffalo with the FAA only one is known to have been shot down- Aircraft AX813 failed to return from a patrol, after being shot down North West of Sidi Barrani on 17 June 1941 (Lt KL Keith taken POW, died of wounds 26 June 1941).
F2A-1 : first production version
F2A-2 : upgraded engine, released October 1940
F2A-3 : improved airframe, upgraded electronics
B-239 : export version of F2A-1
B-339 : export version of F2A-2
One of the Belgian Buffalo subsequently entering FAA service
Fleet Air Arm history
Total FAA 1939-1945: 27
First delivered to RN: 1940.TOC 804 sqd Hatston tested 7.40-9.40 (AS422), 8.40
TOC RN 10.40 (AS413)
First squadron 1939-1945: as above and then 805 sqdn at Dekheila/HMS Eagle and
Maleme 3.41. May 1941 to 759 sqdn Yeovilton
Operational squadron: 804 sqdn at Hatston 7. 40, and 805 sqdn Dekheila/HMS Eagle and Maleme March 1941
Last served with RN 1941/1942
Battle Honours and Operational History
Although only serving with the Fleet Air Arm for a relatively short time the Buffalo saw combat action in the Mediterranean. Elsewhere, the only US unit to use it in combat was an USMC squadron defending Midway.
The one operation Fleet Air Arm squadrom with Buffalo, 805 Squadron formed in February 1941 with 12 Fairey Fulmar two-seat fighters, carrier capable, to support a planned invasion of Rhodes, off the coast of Turkey, held by Italians. Based at Maleme in northeastern Crete. Three Buffaloes (AS419, AS420, AX814) along with 6 more Fulmars flew in from Dekheila. The Buffalo flight commanded by Lt. Rupert Brabner, formerly Member of Parliament for Hyth. "The Buffalo was a delight to fly--very maneuverable (compared to the Fulmar). It would have been an excellent fighter but the guns could not be fired because the ends of the wires which were part of the interrupter gear, failed and 805 did not have the necessary spares."
On 18th March, Lt. Brabner had his first skirmish, chasing a Ju88 without catching it--while flying a Fulmar, perhaps indicative of his opinion of the Buffalo. He was up again next day, mounted on AS419, only to turn back because of engine trouble. He crash- landed short of the airfield, and the Brewster flipped over on its back, fortunately without injury to the MP. A photograph shows it resting very sturdily on its plexiglass canopy. That seems to have been the Brewster's only sortie from Crete. By the end of April: "The two remaining Buffalos were also totally unservicable now." When German paratroopers over-ran Crete at the end of May, the Brewsters were apparently left in the boneyard. German photographers delighted in photographing their planes landing over the hulk of a derelict Brewster. Christopher Shores et al: Air War for Yugoslavia Greece and Crete 1940-41 (London: Grub Street 1987)
Belgian Brewster Buffalo wreckage at Darmstadt during the war.
Photograph of the wreckage of one of the three Belgium machines delivered to Bordeaux-Mérignac airfield after occupation by the Germans in 1940. Two were assembled and most probably at least one was taken to Germany for evaluation purposes, dutring which time this photograph of a Belgian Brewster Buffalo was taken at Darmstadt during the war.
There are no complete Brewster Buffaloes in the world. One wreck has been found and recovered for future restoration, from a lake in Russian Karelia, Brewster model 239 fighter BW-372 of the Finnish Air Force. See the Quicktime movie clips of the Buffalo recovery from a lake in Karelia in 1998
Brewster model 239 fighter BW-372 of Finnish Air Force lifted from a lake in Russian Karelia
© 1998 Press department in The Ministry of The Interior, Republic of Karelia
Information as of 23 March, 2000, about the status of the recovered Finnish Buffalo, BW-372.
BW-372 at Shannon, Ireland 1998
Brewster Buffalo Association