The British Hawker Hurricane


The British Hawker Hurricane is a single seat, fighter aircraft that was a dominant force in the early days of World War II.  This aircraft became renowned for it’s role in the Battle of Britain.  In spite of it’s more famous brother the Supermarine Spitfire, the Hurricane led all British aircraft with 55% of the victories during the Battle of Britain.  

There were 14,487 Hurricanes built by the Hawker Aircraft company..  The Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force were the primary users of the fighter.  The Hurricane was relied upon to defend England for the advances of the German Luftwaffe wich sent various aircraft in it’s attempt to conquer by destroying England’s military.  

The legendary dogfights between the Hurricane and the German Messerschmitt Bf-109 could fill volumes of military history books.

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The F6F Grumman Hellcat


The Grumman F6f Hellcat was a carrier based fighter aircraft of World War II.  Built in the United States by the Grumman Corporation for the United States Navy to replace the aging F4F Wildcat.  There was an competition within the aircraft industry that the USN (United States Navy) had to sort out.

The Vought F4U Corsair  was the main competitor with the Hellcat and won out to be the primary carrier-based  fighter for the USN.  Then a problem arose with the Corsair in that the pilots had major troubles landing on aircraft carriers due to visibility issues on final approach.

This problem was due to the long nose of the aircraft and large 4 bladed propeller.  The issue was temporarily solved as the Corsair became a land based with the USMC (United States Marine Corp) which used it to great effect against the Japanese.

The F6F had an Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine which produced 2,000 hp.  This engine was also used for the Vought F4U Corsair and the Republic  P-47 Thunderbolt.  While the F6F Hellcat resembled the older F4F Wildcat and was kiddingly called the “Wildcat’s older brother” it was a tough, rugged and well designed carrier fighter that was superior to the Japanese Zero.

This helped the USN have air superiority in the Pacific.  There were 12,275 F4F Hellcats produced from 1943-45.  The Hellcat had over 5,222 victories over enemy aircraft by USN, USMC and the British RAF pilots.

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The Brewster Buffalo Fighter


The Brewster F2A Buffalo a United States Navy and Marine Corp fighter used in the early days of World War II.  Built by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation it was on of the first monoplanes to have an arresting hook and able to be used on aircraft carriers.

In 1939, the Buffalo won the competition withe the Grumman Corporation  F4F Wildcat to be the USN’s first monoplane fighter aircraft.  Several countries; Finland, Belgium, Britain and Netherlands ordered the Buffalo.

Finland was very successful in in repelling many Soviet aircraft that were a part of USSR’s invasion of Finland.  From 1941-1944 the de-navalized B-239 had  an amazing 32:1 victory over most Soviet aircraft  during that time.

In December 1941, the British and Dutch used Buffalo  B-339D/Es in combat with the Japanese Mitsubishi  A6M Zeros and Japanese Army Nakajima Ki-43 Oscars and were totally overwhelmed by the faster and more agile Japanese fighters in the Far East Asia theater.  The Allies aircraft were lightened by cutting back on fuel and ammunition but that didn’t help much.

The Buffalo was built in 3 variations the F2A-1, F2A-2 and F2A-3 for the USN.  Foreign sales were designed as B-239, B-339 and B-339-23.  These were land based aircraft and could not land on aircraft carriers

The F2A-3 saw action with the USMC (United State Marine Corp) squadrons at the Battle of Midway.  The Buffalo F2A-3 was decidedly obsolete and no match for the Zero.  The term “flying coffin” was adopted by the pilots at Midway.

There were 509 F2As of all variants built between 1938-1941 and the Finland retired the last military owned Buffalo in 1948

Design and Development

In 1935 the USN put out a request to the American aviation manufacturing community for a carrier based monoplane fighter to replace the aging bi-wing Grumman F3F.  The Brewster Aeronautical of Long Island New York initially lost the bid to Seversky P-35.  The P-35 was eliminated when it failed to reach the required maximum speed of 270 mph.

The new F2A-1 had a modern look with all -metal fuselage and wings although the control surfaces were fabric which was the practice at the time.  It was powered by a Wright R-1820-22 single row Cyclone radial engine that could push the Buffalo at a 2,600 climb rate per minute with a top speed of 277.

The aircraft was taken Langley Research Center for wind tunnel test.  Modifications made from the results added nearly 27 mph to it’s speed, now a 304 mph.  The armament consisted one .50 cal M2 Browning machine gun and one .30 cal AN Browning machine gun, both mounted in the nose.

In 1938, the USN awarded the Brewster Aeronautical Corp a contract to build 54 of the F2A-1.  But do to production delays only 11 of the Brewster F2A-1 went to the USN.

When things did get rolling in New York, the remainder of the Buffalos were modified to the B-239 verison and sent to Finland.  A newer version came out from Brewster called the F2A-2 with a more powerful engine,  Wright R-1820-40 single row radial , which produced top speeds 323 mph, not too bad at the time.  A new propeller was used, better landing gear, but still no cockpit armor and self-sealing fuel tanks.

However both the F2A-1 and  The F2A-2 were liked by Navy and Marine pilots.  Pappy (Baa-Baa Black Sheep) Boyington recalls “…the early models, before they weighed it all down with cockpit armor, radios and other equipment, were real sweet machines,.   Not too fast, but the little aircraft could turn and roll in a phone booth.”

In January 1941 108 aircraft were ordered this being the last  F2A-3 delivered to USN and USMC.  The F2A-3 now had a new, self-sealing fuel tanks, armor around the cockpit and increased ammunition storage in the aircraft.  The new innovations added weight thus causing a decrease in rate of climb , speed and maneuverability.

The off-set was the bigger engine had s two speed Cyclone supercharger gave it higher altitude performance and was an excellent cruising engine.

The Saratoga and the Lexington used them in the early days of World War II.  By then the USN considered the F2A Buffalo (all variants) to be obsolete.

Many of the newer more advanced fighters were still be built or being tested and the Buffalo had to weather the storm.   When the replacements came the Buffalo was relegated to the training squadrons as an advanced training aircraft.

Operational History

In early December, 1941 the USS Saratoga was sailing toward Wake Island with a 20 Brewster F2A-3 and 7 Grumman F4F Wildcats as part of a relief force, when USCINCPAC diverted the Task Force to Midway.  Earlier in December the VMA-211 F4F Wildcat squadron had be dispatched from the USS Enterprise  to Wake Island.

Then On December 8, 1941 The Japanese attacked Wake Island, but stubborn resistance from the ground USMC troops prevented the Japanese from taking Wake.  The USS Saratoga was the rescue force , but the military leaders apparently didn’t want to engage the Japanese with such a rather lean Tak Force.

Because of  the Pearl Harbor disaster , the Saratoga was sent to Midway Island.  It wasn’t until May of 1942 that VMA- 221 using F2A-3 Buffalo,  engaged the enemy on that fateful day.

There were 30-40 “Val” dive bombers heading for Midway with Major Floyd Parks led the Buffalos into the fray.  The VMA-221 managed to down several Vals and then the Zeros come from on high and 13 of the 20 Buffalos were shot down.  Major Parks was strafed by a Zero after bailing out of his buring Buffalo.  He did not survive.

Lt. Charles Kunz recalled:  “I was at an altitude of about 9,000 and shove over in a dive trying to shake the plane on my tail until I was about 20 feet from the water  I was making radical turns hoping the pilot couldn’t get steadied on me.  I glanced out of the rear and saw that it was a Zero fighter.  I continued flying on a rapid turning course at full throttle when I was hit in the head bu a glancing bullet.

After he fired a few short bursts he left,  as I had been in a general direction 205 degrees away from the island.  My plane was badly shot up.   In my opinion the Zero fighter has far been underestimated.  I think it is probably one of finest fighters in the present war.  As for the F2A-3 it should be in Miami as a training plane, rather than used as  a first line fighter” .

After the Battle of Midway, marked the end of the use of the Brewster F2A (all variants) in front line combat for the United States.  The new Grumman F4F Wildcat was vastly superior to the Buffalo in every way except range.    The Brewster F2A Buffalo became a distant memory.

Where you can see the Brewster Buffalo

Finnish B239 serial BW-372 National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola Florida

A full scale replica of B339C was completed by Cradle of Aviation Museum Long Island New York


Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in

Length:       26 ft 42in

Height:       12 ft 0in

Weight:     4,732 lbs (empty); MGTOW* 7,159 lbs *Maximum Gross                                        Takeoff  Weight

Max Speed: 321 mph

Ceiling:         33,200 ft

Range:           966 mi (combat)

Engine:          1/Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone single r0ow radial engine

Crew: 1


P-39 Airacobra Fighter


The Bell P-39 Airacobra was an early American fighter aircraft at the out break of World War II. In the “Lend-Lease” plan with eh Soviet Union, the P-39 was one of their favorite fighters as it had more victories than any other American aircraft that was sold to the USSR.

The British RAF and the Italian Air Force (after the fall of Fascist Italy) were also users of this aircraft. It was the first American Fighter to have tricycle landing gear. The unique feature was the engine was in the center of the fuselage behind the pilot.

Due to a lack of a turbo-supercharger, it was not a good high altitude aircraft. The Soviets liked it because they used it for medium to low altitude combat every effectively. It was a deadly ground attack fighter with a deadly nose cannon.

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