Operational history: - (Continued from page 1)

The two RAAF, two RAF, and one RNZAF squadrons, during December 1941-January 1942, were beset with numerous problems, including: poorly-built and ill-equipped aircraft; poor supplies of spare parts; inadequate numbers of support staff; airfields that were difficult to defend against air attack; lack of a clear and coherent command structure; antagonism between RAF and RAAF squadrons and personnel, and; inexperienced pilots lacking appropriate training.

The Hawker Hurricanes which succeeded the Buffalos (from 20 January) also suffered severe losses from ground attacks, and were also virtually wiped out.

The Fleet Air Arm used the Buffalo in the Mediterranean defending Crete in early 1941. Four British Commonwealth pilots (Geoff Fisken, Maurice Holder, Benjamin Clare and Richard Vanderfield) became aces in the Buffalo. Fisken, the top-scoring of them, later flew P-40s and became the highest-scoring Commonwealth pilot within the Pacific theatre.

Netherlands East Indies

The Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger ("Military Air Service of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army", ML-KNIL) had ordered 144 Brewster B-339C and 339D models, the former with used engines supplied by the Dutch and the latter with new and more powerful engines that Brewster purchased from Wright. By the time war began, only 71 had arrived in the Dutch East Indies, and not all were in service. A small number served briefly at Singapore before being withdrawn for the defense of Java.

As the Dutch Buffalos were lighter than the F2A-3 used by the U.S., they were able to successfully dogfight the Oscar, although it was still out-turned by the A6M Zero. Apart from their role as fighters, they were also used as dive bombers against Japanese troopships. Though reinforced by the Commonwealth Buffalos retreating from Malaya, the Dutch squadrons were unable to stem the superiority of Japanese forces at ground level, and they flew their last mission on 7 March. Altogether 17 Dutch pilots were killed, 30 Buffalos were shot down, 15 were destroyed on the ground, and several were lost to misadventure. In return, Dutch pilots claimed 55 enemy aircraft destroyed. In a major engagement above Semplak on 19 February 1942, eight Dutch Brewsters intercepted a formation of about 35 Japanese bombers, which had an escort of about 20 Zeros. The Dutch pilots destroyed 11 Japanese aircraft and lost four Buffalos, of which two of the pilots died.

Two Dutch pilots, Jacob van Helsdingen and August Deibel, scored the highest on the Buffalo with three victories.

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Wikipedia: Brewster F2A Buffalo