Brewster Buffalo

The USN's first monoplane fighter, Brewster's F2A Buffalo would be far from successful in American service, although it would enjoy a much better reputation with Finnish pilots.

The Navy was still relying on Grumman biplanes for fighter cover in the mid-1930s, when monoplane dive- and torpedo bombers were already under development, and thus in 1935 requested proposals for a new carrier based monoplane fighter. Seversky and Curtiss responded with naval derivatives of their P-35 and P-36 respectively, while Brewster put forth an entirely new design of all-metal construction. The USN did not wish to buy a rehashed USAAC design, and in November 1935 the Brewster design was chosen for procurement as the F2A. As a backup, Grumman was contracted to build the XF4F-1 biplane, although this was later cancelled in favor of the F4F-2 Wildcat monoplane.

Brewster Buffalo model image

Although the F2A-1 was approved for production, Brewster still had a long way to go in order to get its new fighter into service. The company's original facilities in Queens, New York were not well suited for large scale production, and less than a dozen examples had been delivered by late 1939, for service with VF-43 aboard USS Saratoga. However, Navy procurement was to hit a snag, as Brewster had ended up selling the type to Finland as well. As there was not sufficient capacity to fill both US and international orders, the USN agreed that 43 of its ordered F2A-1s would instead be delivered to Finland, their place being taken instead by new F2A-2s. These would have uprated Cyclone engines, armor, more fuel, and an additional pair of .50-cal machine guns.

Bibliography:

David Mondey The Hamlyn Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II p.41-44: color profiles include a VF-2 F2A-2, Finnish B-239, B-339s of the RAF, RAAF, and the Netherlands, a USAAF B-439, and a VMF-221 F2A-3.

Walter A. Musciano Warbirds of the Sea p.149: scale 3-view of a VF-2 F2A-2

Joshua Stoff Picture History of World War II American Aircraft Production p.7: F2A fuselage under construction

Review: F2A Buffalo in action, Squadron/Signal Publications Some highlights: Several photos of the XF2A-1 prototype Scrap drawings showing the differences in the canopy and fin between the XF2A-1 and F2A-1 F2A-1 specifications and 3-view Photos showing the cockpit and Wright Cyclone engine of an RAF Buffalo Mk. I Color profiles include a prewar VF-2 F2A-2, a wartime F2A-3 from the same unit, Finnish Model 239 and 339E, and an RAAF Model 339-23 Model 339C/D cockpit photo F2A-3 3-view and specifications

Brewster Buffalo Bibliography Wright Aircraft engines ad, featuring a side view of XF2A-2 0451 Aviation March 1940 p.87

"Buffalos at Singapore" Aviation August 1941 Includes a small 3-view and a photo of an aircraft under maintenance.

John Lewisham "Land & Water Buffalo" Scale Modeler August 1973 building the Airfix 1/72 F2A kit as RAF and USMC aircraft

"Brewster surfaces" FlyPast November 1998 p.12 Recovery of Model 239 BW-372 in Russia

Color profiles, including a captured B-339 in Japanese markings and a VF-2 F2A-2 AeroMagazin November 2003 p.26; the rear cover has further profiles, including a VF-3 aircraft from USS Saratoga.

Review: Classic Airframes 1/48 F2A-1 kit Skymodel 8/06 p.61

Review of the Special Hobby F2A-3 "Defender of Midway" kit in 1/72 Skymodel 11/07 p.65

Mikhail Sharov "F2A Buffalo" Scale Aviation Modeller International July 2017 Building the 1/48 Tamiya kit.

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