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Brewster F2A Buffalo Fighter

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F2A Buffalo First Navy Monoplane Fighter

Brewster Buffalo - WWII American fighter plane.

F2A Brewster Buffalo in flight. US Navy photo.

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first US Navy monoplane fighter and one of the first of the modern fighters available when the United States entered the war, with production beginning in 1938.

The smallest Navy fighter, the F2A was tubby and of all-metal construction.
The single seat F2A was carrier or land-based, and the various aircraft versions ranged in armament from 2-gun fighters to 4-gun bombers.

Problems Encountered with the Brewster Buffalo

Brewster Buffalo landing accident

F2A after landing gear failure on the deck of escort carrier USS Long Island. U.S. Navy photo.

An increase in armament caused a corresponding increase in weight in which “performance and flying qualities deteriorated severely; increased engine power could not make up the difference”, according to Francis H. Dean in America's Hundred-Thousand U.S. Production Fighters of World War Two, (p442). Lacking self-sealing tanks, additional problems were weakness in the landing gear and insufficient armor-plating which were never resolved before production was terminated in in 1943.

High F2A Buffalo Casualties

Brewster Buffaloes in British service suffered high casualties at the hands of more agile Japanese fighter over Burma. The VMF-221 Marine Corps Squadron was the only American unit to use the F2A in combat, and was outmatched by the faster, more maneuverable Japanese Zero. Of the 23 Brewster Buffaloes in the Battle of Midway, only 10 returned. VMF-221 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their heroic actions during the Battle of Midway.

Finland, and Australia also operated versions of the Brewster Buffalo. Although it did not meet with much success in other countries, Finland received a lighter, more maneuverable version which performed very well against the Soviets.

F2A Buffalo Replaced by F4F Wildcat

After only a few months of active duty, the F2A Brewster Buffalo was replaced by the F4F Wildcat and the remaining planes were put to use as advanced trainers.


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* Brewster Buffalo facts

Category Carrier-based fighter
Brewster Aeronautical Corp
Introduced April 1939
Used in

United States Navy
Royal Air Force
Finnish Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1938-1941
Number built 509
Cruising speed 250 mph
Max. speed 321 mph
Altitude 33,200 ft service ceiling
Range 965 miles
* Numbers are approximate