Brewster Aeronautical Corporation’s F2A Buffalo won the first Navy monoplane fighter competition over Grumman’s entry.
The company continued to design and produce lackluster aircraft, and the XA-32, despite a sound layout, became a compendium of management-induced faults.
Initially designed in 1941, the XA-32 was grossly overweight, at almost 20,000 lb (9,100 kg), similar to the Douglas A-20 Havoc.
The drag induced by its bulbous shape was amplified by careless detail design, which left it festooned with bumps and lumps.
One disastrous characteristic was that the exhaust scoops that ringed the cowling nearly blinded the test pilots during night flying; the backfiring at low power settings resulted in flames engulfing the nose of the aircraft.
Even with the 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the XA-32 was underpowered and an attempt to re-engine the aircraft with the 3,000 hp (2,200 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major was unsuccessful.
The first flight of the XA-32 prototype was not until May 22, 1943, two years after the design was proposed, and almost every aspect of performance fell short of the specifications.
Without its load of weapons, the XA-32 could only reach 279 mph (242 kn; 449 km/h) and although handling was adequate, as soon as armament and external stores were added, the performance dropped drastically and more seriously, the disturbed airflow set up severe buffeting at its top speed.
Only two examples were built, the XA-32 and XA-32A, both of which were scrapped at the conclusion of flight testing.
The XA-32 failure was to be the last product and the end for Brewster.
Length: 40 ft 7 in (12.37 m)
Wingspan: 45 ft 1 in (13.74 m)
Height: 11 ft 3 in (3.44 m)
Gross weight: 13,500 lb (6,123 kg)
Power plant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-37 Double Wasp radial engine, 2,100 hp (1,600 kW)
Maximum speed: 311 mph (501 km/h, 270 kn)
Cruise speed: 196 mph (315 km/h, 170 kn)
Combat range: 500 mi (800 km, 430 nmi)
Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,900 m)
Guns: 8 x .50-cal. machine guns or 4 x 37mm gun
Bombs: 1,000 pounds (450 kg) in an internal fuselage bomb bay and 2,000 pounds (910 kg) under wing
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
Images of America, Brewster-The Brewster Historical Society
Brewster SB2A Bermuda/Buccaneer-Steve Ginter.
United States Naval Aviation 1910-60-NAVWEPS 00-80P-1.
U.S. Naval Aviation-Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
United States Naval Aviation, 1919-1941-Tommy H. Thomason.
United States Naval Aviation 1910-1918-Noel C Shirley.
United States Navy Aircraft since 1911-Gordon Swanborough & Peter M. Bowers.
Wings for the Navy, A History of the Naval Aircraft Factory, 1917-1956-William F. Trimble.
The Complete book of fighters-William Green, Gordon Swanborough.