Operational history: - (Return to page 3)

During the Continuation War, Lentolaivue 24 (Fighter Squadron 24) was equipped with the B-239s until May 1944, when the Brewsters were transferred to H�vitt�j�lentolaivue 26 (Fighter Squadron 26). Most of the pilots of Lentolaivue 24 were Winter War combat veterans and the squadron achieved total of 459 kills with B-239s, while losing 15 Brewsters in combat. For example, between 25 June 1941 and 31 December 1941, LeLv 24 scored 135 kills with Brewsters at a cost of two pilots and two Brewster Buffalos.

The top-scoring Buffalo pilot was Hans Wind, with 39 kills in B-239s. Wind scored 26 of his kills while flying BW-393, while Eino Luukkanen scored seven more in the same aircraft. After evaluation of claims against Soviet actual losses, BW-364 is credited with 42� kills in total, possibly making it the fighter aircraft with the greatest number of victories in the history of air warfare. BW-393 is credited with 40 victories.

The top scoring Finnish ace, Ilmari Juutilainen, scored 34 of his 94� kills in B-239s, including 28 in BW-364.

Although the Buffalo was clearly obsolete in 1944, barely holding its own against Soviet fighters, with most airframes worn out, LeLv 26 pilots still scored some 35 victories against the Soviets in the summer of 1944. The last aerial victory by a Brewster against the Soviet Union was scored over the Karelian Isthmus on 17 June 1944. After Finland agreed to a truce, it was obliged to turn against its former ally, Germany, and a Brewster pilot, Lt Erik Teromaa (11 kills), claimed a Luftwaffe Stuka on October 3, 1944, during the Lapland War.

There were many other modifications to the B-239 made locally in Finland during its career. Some of these were the installation of pilot seat armor and replacing the single 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun with a 0.50 in (12.7 mm). By 1943, all except one Finnish B-239 had four 0.50s. The wing guns had 400 rounds and fuselage guns 200 rounds each, the 0.30s 600 rounds. In spring 1941, before reflector sights, the Finnish V�is�l� T.h.m.40 sight, based on the Revi 3c�were installed; metric instruments were also installed.

During the war, Finnish designers devised a new aircraft, the Humu, based on the Brewster Buffalo, domestically produced from cheaper materials such as plywood. Only a single prototype was built, as the aircraft was clearly obsolete in 1943 and deliveries of Messerschmitt Bf 109s filled the needs of fighter squadrons.

The last flight made by a Buffalo in Finnish service was on 14 September 1948. Besides the Humu prototype, the hood and fin (with 41 kills) of BW-393 survive in a museum, and BW-372 is on display at the Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo (Aviation Museum of Central Finland)

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Wikipedia: Brewster F2A Buffalo