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View Full Version : the Brewster: effectively used in Europe...general disaster in Pacific!



KrashanTopolova
01-24-2006, 10:42 PM
The possibility of despatching substantial quantities of urgently needed fighters to Singapore from the UK - where the BoB had only just ended and a renewed offensive by the Luftwaffe was still anticipated - was remote. In any event the demands of the new fronts in the Middle East took priority. The answer was found by requesting that deliveries of American Brewster B-339E Buffalo fighters - originally destined for Britain, which had been ordered by the British Purchasing Commission during 1939 and 1940 - be diverted to the Far East. These aircraft had been found unsuitable for operations in the European war zone owing to their lack of high altitude performance capabilities, but were deemed to be good enough to deal with anything the Japanese might field...[even though Zero's were on the Chinese mainland in July 1940]


quote: Leading Aircraftsman 242 (Hurricane) Squadron, Java 1942:

We found some Dutch Air Force groundstaff at the drome [Tjililitan, Java (Indonesia)]. They had with them a couple of Buffaloes (best described as Bullocks) parked near our service area...I always said this aircraft was a disaster...It was short, fat and stunted like a beer barrel fitted with an engine, and when the engine started up it couldn't make up its mind whether to continue running or cough up its innards and report sick. The complete engine became enveloped in smoke as though attempting to hide away in shame from any onlookers. The noise from its Wright-Cyclone engine when taxiing did nothing to justify its very faltering power. Further, it reminded me of an over-affectionate bulldog loath to leave its kennel. I admit this anecdote of the Buffalo is biased, yet any groundstaff who had them thrust upon them as frontline aircraft would agree with these sentiments. I hated to think how any of our Buffalo pilots felt when they faced the Zero - one thing for sure, he needed to be brave.

Pilot Officer RNZAF 243 Squadron Singapore, 1942:
As a combat aircraft it was hopeless. As an aircraft to fly it was beautiful - it really was. When we first flew them there was no armour plating. After the Japs came they put a big lump of armour plating behind your head and down the back of the seat. The moment they did this it upset the centre of gravity. It was a totally different aircraft...[without trim in a dive] you had to be a real strong man to keep her there. You would have two hands on the stick [and if you took one off] the stick would just flick back.
The main thing that caused us concern was the guns. They were .5 Colts and they just wouldn't fire. The guns worked off a solenoid - especially the two firing through the prop - and a bit of piano wire, and things used to get out of function and now and again you would punch a hole in the prop...

Kapt (DFC medal) 3-VIG-V Sumatra & Java, 1942:
Coming to an evaluation of the Brewster fighter, especially compared to the Zero by which it was opposed - I think that my views are not directly in line with what is generally said about the Brewster. Generally it is said that it was far inferior to the Zero. As far as speed and climb performance were concerned, The Zero might have been faster but the Japanese sacrificed everything to get a good climbing fighter. However, that meant that she was very vulnerable, even from the .303 machine-guns. On the contrary, the Brewster was a good, sturdy, fast fighter with two half-inch armour plates behind the seat. She would take a hell of a lot of beating. My view is that our drawback during the fighter actions was not an inferior aeroplane, but that we had too few of them and also our armament was too little and too light. Only two .303's and two .50s. If only that could have been six or eight wing-mounted .50s! However, I was happy to have the Brewster. Another thing we have to bear in mind is that we were up against the creme de la creme of the Japanese fighter pilots.

source: Cull: 'Buffaloes over Singapore'

the main Jap fighter against the Buffaloes at this time was the Ki-43s

KrashanTopolova
01-24-2006, 10:42 PM
The possibility of despatching substantial quantities of urgently needed fighters to Singapore from the UK - where the BoB had only just ended and a renewed offensive by the Luftwaffe was still anticipated - was remote. In any event the demands of the new fronts in the Middle East took priority. The answer was found by requesting that deliveries of American Brewster B-339E Buffalo fighters - originally destined for Britain, which had been ordered by the British Purchasing Commission during 1939 and 1940 - be diverted to the Far East. These aircraft had been found unsuitable for operations in the European war zone owing to their lack of high altitude performance capabilities, but were deemed to be good enough to deal with anything the Japanese might field...[even though Zero's were on the Chinese mainland in July 1940]


quote: Leading Aircraftsman 242 (Hurricane) Squadron, Java 1942:

We found some Dutch Air Force groundstaff at the drome [Tjililitan, Java (Indonesia)]. They had with them a couple of Buffaloes (best described as Bullocks) parked near our service area...I always said this aircraft was a disaster...It was short, fat and stunted like a beer barrel fitted with an engine, and when the engine started up it couldn't make up its mind whether to continue running or cough up its innards and report sick. The complete engine became enveloped in smoke as though attempting to hide away in shame from any onlookers. The noise from its Wright-Cyclone engine when taxiing did nothing to justify its very faltering power. Further, it reminded me of an over-affectionate bulldog loath to leave its kennel. I admit this anecdote of the Buffalo is biased, yet any groundstaff who had them thrust upon them as frontline aircraft would agree with these sentiments. I hated to think how any of our Buffalo pilots felt when they faced the Zero - one thing for sure, he needed to be brave.

Pilot Officer RNZAF 243 Squadron Singapore, 1942:
As a combat aircraft it was hopeless. As an aircraft to fly it was beautiful - it really was. When we first flew them there was no armour plating. After the Japs came they put a big lump of armour plating behind your head and down the back of the seat. The moment they did this it upset the centre of gravity. It was a totally different aircraft...[without trim in a dive] you had to be a real strong man to keep her there. You would have two hands on the stick [and if you took one off] the stick would just flick back.
The main thing that caused us concern was the guns. They were .5 Colts and they just wouldn't fire. The guns worked off a solenoid - especially the two firing through the prop - and a bit of piano wire, and things used to get out of function and now and again you would punch a hole in the prop...

Kapt (DFC medal) 3-VIG-V Sumatra & Java, 1942:
Coming to an evaluation of the Brewster fighter, especially compared to the Zero by which it was opposed - I think that my views are not directly in line with what is generally said about the Brewster. Generally it is said that it was far inferior to the Zero. As far as speed and climb performance were concerned, The Zero might have been faster but the Japanese sacrificed everything to get a good climbing fighter. However, that meant that she was very vulnerable, even from the .303 machine-guns. On the contrary, the Brewster was a good, sturdy, fast fighter with two half-inch armour plates behind the seat. She would take a hell of a lot of beating. My view is that our drawback during the fighter actions was not an inferior aeroplane, but that we had too few of them and also our armament was too little and too light. Only two .303's and two .50s. If only that could have been six or eight wing-mounted .50s! However, I was happy to have the Brewster. Another thing we have to bear in mind is that we were up against the creme de la creme of the Japanese fighter pilots.

source: Cull: 'Buffaloes over Singapore'

the main Jap fighter against the Buffaloes at this time was the Ki-43s

Stigler_9_JG52
01-24-2006, 11:22 PM
Keep in mind that the Buffalo that did so well in Finnish service had all that weighty stuff that dogged the American fighter yanked out.

Dunkelgrun
01-25-2006, 04:22 AM
So they sent Hurricanes to Singapore and Java and the Japanese ran rings round them as well.

It wasn't just the Buffaloes that were a disaster in the Pacific, it was the whole stupid colonial mentality. Singapore was described as a first-rate posting staffed by second-rate people.

Neither the British, Americans or Dutch viewed the Japanese as anything other than inferior; tactically naive and incapable of building and operating equipment superior to that of the allied powers.

The warnings were there; they simply weren't heeded.

Cheers!

Heliopause
01-25-2006, 04:47 AM
The British had info about the Zero fighter. (from a report from the china theatre). So they could adopt tactics against it. ( Stay high and dive down.)
The Dutch forches never got to learn about these findings. It wasn´t until they checked a downed Zero in the Borneo jungle that they got any idea of the Japanes fighter plane and it´s capability.
Some Dutch Buffaloe´s were shot down right after take-off by marauding zero´s and that isn´t a good position for any fighter plane.

GerritJ9
01-25-2006, 03:25 PM
The British B-339E was a variant of the F2A-2, but overloaded with extra equipment the RAF considered "necessary" and with a Cyclone developing less hp- 1100 vs 1200 in the F2A-2. The result: a sportscar turned into a slug.
The KNIL ordered 144 Brewsters initially, but engines were not available, and the order was halved. The first 24 were the B-339Cs with 1100 hp Cyclones as the B-339E had, the remaining 48 received 1200 hp Cyclones as B-339Ds. These were closer to the F2A-2 in performance than the B-339Es were as they did not have the excessive overloading of the B-339E and therefore both Dutch versions had far better performance, especially the B-339D. After the fall of Singapore four or five B-339Es were handed over to the KNIL but the Dutch pilots were less than impressed with them and as far as known they were never used on operations by the KNIL, despite the shortage of fighters (similarly, the remaining Hawk 75A-7s were not allowed to be used on operations during the final days because of unreliable worn-out engines). At least one ex-RAF Buffalo was captured by the Japanese at Andir after the fall of Java, repainted with Dutch national markings but still carrying the RAF serial number and squadron codes.

BaldieJr
01-25-2006, 03:27 PM
i did not read any of this thread because the posts are too long. i like the brewster for no reason.

puhakka-GB
01-25-2006, 03:32 PM
The Ilmavoimat achieved a kill to loss ratio of 67.5 to 1 with the Brewster, not bad for a supposedly inferior aeroplane. Admittedly their tactics and training were far superior the the Red Air Force in 41-43 and later they were out-classed by La-5s and the like but it shows that sometimes you can't blame the tools!

MLudner
01-25-2006, 03:32 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BaldieJr:
i did not read any of this thread because the posts are too long. i like the brewster for no reason. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Impatience is not a virtue.

BaldieJr
01-25-2006, 03:43 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by MLudner:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BaldieJr:
i did not read any of this thread because the posts are too long. i like the brewster for no reason. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Impatience is not a virtue. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Guess what?

Sergio_101
01-25-2006, 03:49 PM
Somehow I don't think "Kapt (DFC medal) 3-VIG-V Sumatra & Java, 1942:" would have made the mistake
of calling the .30 cal guns ".303's".

I remember one Dutchman commenting how he
disliked the Buffalo until he got to fly
a Hurricane.
After his ride in a Hurricane his comment
was "The Buffalo is not so bad afterall".
Got the feeling he disliked the Hurricane.

Sergio

MLudner
01-25-2006, 03:57 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BaldieJr:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by MLudner:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BaldieJr:
i did not read any of this thread because the posts are too long. i like the brewster for no reason. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Impatience is not a virtue. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Guess what? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

It is my standard policy to never guess.

Tully__
01-25-2006, 07:57 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BaldieJr:
i did not read any of this thread because the posts are too long. i like the brewster for no reason. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/1241.gif <span class="ev_code_yellow">Warning!</span> Tone down the spam Mr Burglar...

GerritJ9
01-26-2006, 07:22 AM
Another point to be considered is that most of the Commonwealth pilots were without any proper training as fighter pilots, in many cases they were more or less fresh from flying training- hardly the material able to face the IJAAF and IJN veterans.
Similarly, although the KNIL pilots were generally experienced as pilots, the KNIL lacked any kind of fighter pilot training programme. Prior to 1940, the KNIL fighter arm consisted of 20 Curtiss P6-E Hawks used to defend Soerabaja (home base for the Royal Netherlands Navy in the NEI) from attack by bombers. In 1940, three KNIL pilots were sent to the U.K. for operational training; two were killed while flying over France and the third returned to Java just before the Pacific war broke out- too late for his operational experience to be used for a proper training programme. Three other KNIL pilots were at an O.T.U. in the U.K. when war broke out and were recalled to Java but were still in transit when Java fell.
The USMC pilots at Midway were similarly fresh from flying school, and handicapped by the F2A-3, which like the B-339E was overloaded with extra equipment specified by the U.S.N. though at least it had a 1200 hp Cyclone. On the other hand, it had a useless telescopic gunsight rather than the reflector sight of the B-339E or the F4F-3.
Lack of success against the hardened IJN veterans guaranteed!

GreyBeast
01-26-2006, 02:27 PM
Baldie, you're still MY hero! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif