Operational history: - (Continued from page 2)

U.S. Marine Corps

The U.S. Marine Corps flew F2As at the Battle of Midway, and suffered 15 losses out of 25 aircraft. The grim outcome was the primary source for the reputation of the Brewster being one of the worst fighters flown in combat. However, the main reasons for the losses included the obsolescence of F2A-3, inexperience of USMC pilots, who attempted to enter into a World War I-style dogfight with experienced Japanese aviators, and the fact that the F2As were outnumbered and at a tactical disadvantage.

The poor performance of the Buffalo in the aerial battle sparked Finnish Ace Hans Wind to write his combat manual on Brewster; he analyzed the air combat and the tactical errors the Americans made, and proposed tactics which Finnish Brewster pilots used, with remarkable success, in 1942�43. Meanwhile, the Battle of Midway marked the end of F2A-3's American combat career. The surviving airframes were transported to the U.S. mainland as advanced trainers.


In Finland, the Brewster Buffalos, typically called "Brewsters" enjoyed their greatest success. The aircraft did not arrive in time for the Winter War, but their impact in the Continuation War (1941-44) was remarkable. The fighter was never referred to as the Buffalo in Finland; it was known simply as the Brewster, or sometimes by the nickname Taivaan helmi ("Sky Pearl") or Pohjoisten taivaiden helmi ("Pearl of the Northern Skies"). Other nicknames were Pylly-Valtteri ("Butt-Walter"), Amerikanrauta ("American hardware" or "American car") and Lent�v� kaljapullo ("flying beer-bottle"). The 44 Brewsters used by the FAF received serial numbers BW-351 to BW-394. It appears the workmanship of the Finnish airframes was also better than those produced later, a common phenomenon as the aircraft factories were manned by a less-skilled workforce after the start of World War II.

The Brewster was regarded as being very easy to fly and many Finnish pilots called it was a "gentleman's plane", while the Messerschmitt Bf 109 (also used by the FAF) was "a killing machine." Brewsters were also popular within the FAF because of their long range and endurance, and their good maintenance record. This was due in part to FAF mechanics, who solved a problem plaguing the Wright Cyclone engine by inverting one of the piston rings in each cylinder, thus enhancing engine reliability. Note that the Finnish aircraft dispensed with most of the U.S. Navy gear such as a life raft, resulting in a considerably lighter aircraft.

A Finnish Air Force Brewster B239 formation in Continuation War.
(Source: Finnish Air Force)

In the end, the Brewster gained a reputation as one of the most successful combat aircraft ever flown by the Finnish Air Force. In service during 1941-1945, Brewsters of Lentolaivue 24 (Fighter Squadron 24) were credited with 477 Soviet aircraft destroyed, against the loss of 19 Brewsters: a victory ratio of 26:1. However, the substantiation of this claim on German and Soviet records is so far incomplete, and all claims have not been managed to be connected on actual losses (as of 2007).

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Wikipedia: Brewster F2A Buffalo