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 US Navy F2A-2 Brewster Buffalo fighter attached to the FG 3, 3-F-11, Bu. No. 1409, embarked upon the USS Saratoga prior to the start of WWII. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 8.75 inches
Length: 6.5 inches
Release Date: May 2007
Historcial Account: "Hell Divers" - Hell Divers is a 1931 movie starring Wallace Beery and Clark Gable as a pair of competing chief petty officers on board the USS Saratoga (CV-3). Beery is the old-timer looking to trip up the young Gable, both on and off duty; the story is conventional, but the acting is superb.
The movie features considerable footage of operations on board the Saratoga, with dramatic shots of takeoffs and landings of the Curtiss F8C "Helldivers", biplane dive bombers after which the movie was named. (The particular model seen in the movie saw little operational use, but was frequently used by the Navy for publicity.) Scenes include an exercise in which the Helldivers sink an old battleship within a few minutes, a harbinger of what was to happen at Pearl Harbor just ten years later.
It's noteworthy that in 1931 the US Navy (which reportedly had never permitted film crews aboard a carrier) considered its equipment top secret. Most of the footage showing aircraft landing aboard the ship has the lower part of the screen blacked out to hide the tailhook engaging the arresting wires. However, by that time Britain and Japan both had been operating carriers for years.