The Brewster F2A Buffalo

United States of America
United States of America

Sorry, No ID pictures yet

The Brewster F2A is known under a number of names: Brewster B-39, Brewster F2A and Brewster Buffalo. I decided to pick F2A as the name under which it would be indexed on these pages because of the fact that it initially came to life because of a naval order.
When the US Navy first issued a request for a monoplane fighter the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation had already experience with the B-39 two seat carrier-based scout bomber. A number of the Brewsters were exported, to Finland, and the Netherlands East India (see picture). Even though it was a little outdated at the outbreak of the war, these fighters were put to good use against Axis as well as Allied forces: it served on both sides of the war.


Further pictures:

Brewster F2A Buffalo in full flight
Brewster F2A Buffalo in full flight


Technical data on the Brewster F2A-3
Powerplant 1 × Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone radial, rated at 1200 hp (894.59 kW) Role during war
  • Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
Length 26 ft 4 inch Height 12 ft 1 inch
Empty weight 4732 lb Operational weight 6321 lb typical,
7159 lb max
Wing Span 35 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.86
Wing Area 208.9 sq ft Service ceiling 33200 ft
Maximum speed 321 mph at 16500 ft Cruising speed 258 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate 2,290 ft per minute Range 965 miles typical,
1680 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 265 Imp gal (318 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.50 inch in upper nose
  • 2 × 0.50 inch in wing leading edge
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 232 lb on two underwing hardpoints, each rated at 125 lb. General load would be 2 × 116 lb bombs, or 2 × 100 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1 Naval or ground based Ground and Naval
First flight (prototype) December 1937 Operational Service December 1939 - 1950's
Manufacturer Brewster Aeronautical Corporation Number produced 509 total, 108 this version
Metric system
Length 8.03 m Height 3.68 m
Empty weight 2146 kg Operational weight 2867 kg typical,
3247 kg max
Wing Span 10.67 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.86
Wing Area 19.41 m² Service ceiling 10119 m
Maximum speed 517 km/h at 5029 m Cruising speed 415 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate 698 m per minute Range 1553 km typical,
2704 km max
Fuel capacity internal 1204 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 12 mm in upper nose
  • 2 × 12 mm in wing leading edge
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 105 kg on two underwing hardpoints, each rated at 125 lb. General load would be 2 × 53 kg bombs, or 2 × 45 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Brewster F2A  Buffalo
Brewster XF2A-1 The first prototype. Powered by 1 × Wright XR-1820-22 Cyclone, rated at 950 hp (708 kW)
Number built: 1
Brewster F2A-1 First production version. Powered by 1 × Wright Cyclone R-1820-34 rated 940 hp (701 kW). It was only slightly lower and shorter than the F2A-3. Also it was the first monowing fighter to enter the US Navy in operational service. 44 Were delivered to Finland to aid them in their Winter-War against Russia.
Number built: 11
Brewster F2A-2 This version had the Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone radial powerplant, rated 1200 hp (895 kW). Amongst others it featured an extra 2 guns, more armor, pressurized carburetor and 2 hardpoints.
Number built: 43
Brewster F2A-3 The F2A-3 improved upon the F2A-2 design with extra's like: armored glass, more armor, self sealing tanks, better radio and another center of gravity by moving the engine more to the front.
This version saw action shortly after the attack at Pearl Harbor, and was beaten without any problem by the vastly superior Mitsubishi A6M Reisen Zero fighter.
Number built: 108
Brewster B-239 This is the designation of the Finnish aircraft. It was a F2a-1 model, but powered by 1 × Wright R-1820-G5 Cyclone, rated at 905 hp (708 kW). This aircraft was very popular amongst the Finnish pilots, even so that post-war production was considered.
Number built: 43
Brewster B-339B Other countries that the U.S.A were interested in the plane, amongst which Belgium. They ordered an initial 40 planes, similar to the F2A-3. Due to the outbreak of the war, and the following capitulation of Belgium, only 2 were delivered. 6 Were still in transit in France when France fell to the German troops, and were left unused on the Island of Martinique by the French. The remaining 32 went to Great Britain, where they were used in various theatres and roles.
The B-339B was almost identical to the F2A-3, with exception of the powerplant: 1 × Wright GR-1820-G105A Cyclone Radial rated at 1100 hp 820 kW).
Number built: 40
Brewster B-339D A number of 72 planes were ordered by the Netherlands East Indies Forces in responce to the pending threat of the Japanese forces in South-East Asia. The B-339D was similar to the B-339B and B-339E, only it's armament was 2 x .303 inch (7.7 mm) and 2 x .50 inch (12 mm), in stead of 4 x .50 inch (12 mm) guns. Also they had no armored windscreen.
Number built: 72
Brewster B-339E Great Britain ordered 170 aircraft from Brewster. After evaluation of the fighter against German forces it was sent to South-east Asia because the brass thought the Japanese forces were insuperior. There it got hammered and beaten with ease by the Japanese forces which were far superior.
Number built: 170.
Brewster B-439 The government of the Netherlands East Indies ordered another 20 aircraft in preparation of the War with Japan. These aircraft had a slightly better performance due to the powerplant: the Wright GR-1820-G205A Cyclone radial rated at 1200 hp (895 kW). Only three were delivered before the Dutch capitulated to the Japanese, and the remaining 17 B-439's were sent to Australia where they were used for Photo reconnaissance.
Number built: 20
Brewster Buffalo Mk I British designation of the Brewster B-339E
Redesignated aircraft


The Brewster F2A was used at both sides of the war: most of them by the Allied forces, the Finnish planes against the Russian forces (until september 1944, after which they were used against remaining German forces in Scandinavia.The good result of the Finnish pilots are a stark contrast to the bad results of the Allied pilots, but remember that the Russian forces were far insuperior to the German and Japanese forces.





© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00