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Brewster Buffalo

The 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.

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.

In December 1941, Buffalos operated by both British Commonwealth (B-339E) and Dutch (B-339C/D) air forces in South East Asia suffered severe losses in combat against the Japanese Navy’s Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Japanese Army’s Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar”.

The British attempted to lighten their Buffalos by removing ammunition and fuel and installing lighter guns to improve performance, but it made little difference.

After the first few engagements, the Dutch halved the fuel and ammunition load in the wings, which allowed their Buffalos to stay with the Oscars in turns.

The Buffalo was built in three variants for the U.S. Navy, the F2A-1, F2A-2 and F2A-3.

In foreign service, with lower horsepower engines, these types were designated B-239, B-339, and B-339-23 respectively.

The F2A-3 variant saw action with United States Marine Corps squadrons at the Battle of Midway.

Shown by the experience of Midway to be no match for the Zero, the F2A-3 was derided by USMC pilots as a flying coffin.

Indeed, the F2A-3s performance was substantially inferior to the F2A-2 variant used by the Navy before the outbreak of the war despite detail improvements.





(with Wright R-1820-34 Cyclone engine and two guns above engine cowling, plus two optional guns in the wings) for the United States Navy, 11 built


(with Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone engine and four guns) for the United States Navy and Marines, 43 built


Improved F2A-2 for the United States Navy with larger fuel tank, heavier armour, and provision to carry two underwing 100 lb (45 kg) bombs, 108 built


One converted from an F2A-3


Export version of the F2A-1 for Finland (with Wright R-1820-G5 Cyclone engines and four guns), 44 built


Export version for Belgium, 40 built (only two delivered to Belgium, the rest to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm)


Export version for the Netherlands East Indies with Wright GR-1820-G105 Cyclone engines; 24 built


Export version for the Netherlands East Indies with 1,200 hp (890 kW) Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone engines; 48 built (47 delivered to Dutch East Indies)


Export version of the F2A-2 for the Royal Air Force with Wright GR-1820-G105 Cyclone engines as the Buffalo Mk I; 170 built (also used by the RAAF and RNZAF)

B-339-23 / B-439

Export version of the F2A-3 for the Netherlands East Indies with 1,200 hp (890 kW) Wright GR-1820-G205A engines; 20 built (17 later to the RAAF, some used by the USAAF)

VL Humu

The Humu was largely constructed out of wood, due to scarcity of metals, but the frame was made from steel and its design followed closely that of the Brewster.

Because of the small numbers of Brewster’s in service in the Finnish Air Force, the Finns wanted to see if they could design a fighter based on the Brewster design.

The aircraft designers Torsti Verkkola, Arvo Ylinen and Martti Vainio were called upon to lead the project.

The Finnish Air Force ordered 90 Humus, however, production was stopped in 1944, when only one aircraft had been produced, serial no. HM-671.

The first flight took place on 8 August 1944, HM-671 flying for a total of 19 hours and 50 minutes.

The aircraft was 250 kg (551 lb) heavier than calculated, its engine was underpowered, and the aircraft was not of the standard expected from a fighter aircraft of 1944.

VL Humu was still decent for a reconnaissance aeroplane, and together with VL Myrsky, it would have replaced the obsolete biplanes of the reconnaissance squadrons.

The end of the Continuation War in September 1944, however, put the end to the project.





26 ft 4 in (8.03 m)


35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)


12 ft 0 in (3.66 m)

Wing area

209 sq ft (19.4 m2)

Empty weight

4,732 lb (2,146 kg)

Max take-off weight

7,159 lb (3,247 kg)


1 × Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone 9-cyl air-cooled radial piston engine,

1,200 hp (890 kW)


Maximum speed

321 mph (517 km/h, 279 kn)

Cruise speed

161 mph (259 km/h, 140 kn)


965 mi (1,553 km, 839 nmi)

Service ceiling

33,200 ft (10,100 m)

Rate of climb

2,440 ft/min (12.4 m/s)



2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) nose-mounted M2 Browning machine guns

2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) wing-mounted M2 Browning machine guns


2 bombs under wings.



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