Developed to operate from aircraft carriers, the Brewster Buffalo was the first monoplane fighter to equip a United Sates Navy (USN) squadron. When it entered service in June 1939, the Buffalo's hydraulically retractable landing gear was ahead of its time; all other retractable landing gear then extant required the use of a hand crank. The landing gear, however, was one of the Buffalo's major weaknesses. It was not particularly sturdy and tended to collapse after a hard landing, which was common on aircraft carriers. Other weaknesses were the aircraft's lack of armour plating, its light armament, and fuel tanks that were part of the wing structure, which necessitated a major rebuild if they were damaged.
Operated by the Finish Air Force against the Soviets in 1940, the Buffalo enjoyed some success, but it was no match for German fighters and performed disappointingly during the defence of Crete. It was thought that they would fare better against what were then believed to be the inferior aircraft of the Japanese. During 1941 both British Commonwealth squadrons in Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) Air Force were equipped with Buffalos. Ultimately, the Buffalo also proved easy prey to the Japanese during their advance through south-east Asia. Its swansong came during the battle of Midway, when 13 out of 19 being operated by the USN were shot down.
In addition to the Buffalos operated by 453 Squadron RAAF in Malaya and Singapore, 17 ex-NEI aircraft were used by 24, 25, 85 and 87 Squadrons in Australia between June and October 1942.
Brewster Buffalo Mk I
|Wing span:||10.67 m|
|Weight (unladen):||2,146.4 kg|
|Endurance:||Maximum range 1,553 km|
|Armament:||4 x 0.5-in machine-guns|
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