Brewster F2A Buffalo
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Although the Buffalo is best known for its horrible combat record (mostly against the Japanese A6Ms), when it was first designed in 1938 it was one of the best carrier-based airplanes ever seen. The early merit of this aircraft is well seen when the Grumman G.36 (which would later be much better known as the F4F Wildcat) was turned down by the US Navy for the tubby Brewster. The Brewster company by the way was founded in 1810 as a carriage builder. Its first try at airplanes was the F2A itself, and the new challenges of building aircraft for the first time delayed the construction of the prototype F2A by two years. Even though the first F2A flew two years after its conception, the Navy chose it over the G.36, the latter having flown many months before the Buffalo. An order of 54 F2As was placed by the Navy in June, 1938, but surprisingly, only 11 ever reached an aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga, the rest being sent to Finland. The US Navy continued to order F2As into 1940, but when the Navy discovered the potential of the F4F Wildcat in 1939, the remaining Buffaloes were sent off to the RAF, Finland, and to remote Pacific island bases. By the time the US became involved in WW2, the Buffalo was hopelessly inferior to the A6M Zeroes and 21 of them were shot to pieces in the Japanese attack on Midway Island in 1942. However, the Finnish managed to use their F2As very well against their Russian invaders; the latters finding that it had more manoeuverability than their own fighters.
Specifications for Brewster F2A-2 Buffalo
Type: Single Seat carrier based fighter
Power plant: one 1,100-hp Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone 9-cylinder radial air-cooled engine
Dimensions: Span 35ft; length 26ft 4in; height 12 ft 1in.
Weights: empty 4,630lbs; maximum 7,065lbs
Performance: Max speed 300mph; ceiling 30,500ft; initial climb 3,070ft/minute.
Armament: two .50-calibre and two .303-calibre machine guns
First Flight: Janurary 1938
Nations: United States, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Netherlands, Great Britain
Brewster F2A-3 US Marines VMF-221 from Midway island