Hobby Master HA7010 USMC Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo Fighter - VMF-221 "Fighting Falcons," MCAS Ewa, Hawaii, 1942 (1:48 Scale)
"It is my belief that any commander who orders pilots out for combat in an F2A should consider the pilot as lost before leaving the ground."
- One of the surviving members of the squadron's comments after the Battle of Midway
Built by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation in Queens, New York City, the F2A Buffalo was the first production monoplane fighter to enter service with the US Navy. The F2A was an all-metal, single-engine, single-seat, mid-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear and a tail hook for carrier operations. The control surfaces, i.e., ailerons, elevators and rudder, were metal framed but covered with fabric. The struts of the hydraulically-operated landing gear retracted into the underside of the wing while the wheels fitted into the stubby fuselage below the wings. The tail hook was fully retractable into the rear fuselage while the tail-wheel partially retracted into the rear fuselage. Because of its short wingspan, the F2A did not need a folding wing configuration to be accommodated on U.S. aircraft carriers.
The Buffalo entered squadron service in the summer of 1940 and it was not long before three serious defects were identified. The first was the landing gear; it was not strong enough for carrier operations. Brewster strengthened two weak struts but a real fix would require a redesign of the aircraft. The second defect was identified by reports from Europe which indicated that the Buffalo did not meet the performance criteria of other aircraft then in combat, e.g., armor protection, self sealing fuel tanks, etc. Armor protection was added to the F2A-3 resulting in a heavier, unstable aircraft. One solution was to use a more powerful Pratt & Whitney engine but this would require a redesign of the aircraft. The third problem was the Brewster company management who had a habit of promising more than they could deliver resulting in serious delays in the deliveries of the aircraft. The final straw came when the Navy realized that the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat was a superior aircraft in virtually every respect so no further Buffalos were ordered.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a USMC Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo Fighter that was attached to VMF-221 'Fighting Falcons,' then deployed to MCAS Ewa, Hawaii, during 1942.
Wingspan: 8-3/4 inches
Length: 6-1/2 inches
Release Date: August 2011
Historical Account: "Fighting Falcons" - VMF-221 was formed in July 1941 in San Diego, California. In December of that year, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they moved to Marine Corps Air Station Ewa in Hawaii. On December 25th, 1941, fourteen F2A-3 Brewster Buffalos landed on Midway Island after launching from the USS Saratoga. On March 1st, 1942, VMF-221, VMSB-241 and their headquarters units formed Marine Aircraft Group 22 commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ira B. Kimes.
The squadrons first taste of combat came on March 10th, 1942, when four of its pilots recorded the first kills in a Brewster Buffalo, downing a Japanese H8K Patrol Boat.
By late May, the squadron had been augmented with the arrival of additional aircraft. VMF-221 had 21 F2A-3's and 7 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats. On June 4th, 1942, during the Battle of Midway, the pilots of VMF-221 were alerted to intercept the incoming formation of Japanese bombers and the 36 escorting Zeros fighters that were headed towards the island. The Marine's and their Brewster Buffalos were no match for the faster and more agile Zeros, flown by more experienced aviators. The squadron accounted for 17 aircraft shot down, but at the catastrophic cost of thirteen F2A-3's and two F4F-3's shot down and 15 pilots killed in action, including the commanding officer, Major Floyd B. Parks. Only two of VMF-221's remaining 13 aircraft were flyable, effectively destroying the squadron. Four of the squadrons ordnancemen were also killed when a Japanese bomb stuck the ammunition area near the airstrip at Midway. For their actions during the Battle, VMF-221 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. After the battle, one of the surviving members of the squadron noted, It is my belief that any commander who orders pilots out for combat in an F2A should consider the pilot as lost before leaving the ground.