Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


This is coolbert:

Here is a combat aircraft from World War Two [WW2[, that when used by American/British/Dutch aviators, fared poorly in combat, BUT, when used by Finnish pilots against Soviet air forces, fared very well.

The Brewster Buffalo.

"All about the Brewster F2A Buffalo fighter of World War II, which fared so poorly against the Japanese in the Pacific but was a star in the hands of Finnish pilots flying against the Russian air force in the 'Continuation War'"

The Brewster F2A 'Buffalo' was an American fighter plane which saw limited service during World War II. In 1939, the F2A became the first monoplane fighter aircraft used by the US Navy. In December 1941, it suffered severe losses with both British Commonwealth and Dutch air forces in South East Asia, for reasons unrelated to the basic design. It also saw action with US Marine Corps squadrons at the Battle of Midway. The F2A was derided by some American servicemen as a 'flying coffin', due to poor construction and perceptions of its general performance.

"US Marine Corps"

"The US Marine Corps flew F2As at the Battle of Midway, and suffered 15 losses out of 25 aircraft. The grim outcome was the primary source for the reputation of the Brewster being one of the worst fighters flown in combat. However, the main reasons for the losses included the obsolescence of F2A-3, inexperience of USMC pilots, who attempted to enter into a World War I-style dogfight with experienced Japanese Mitsubishi Zero fighters, and the fact that the Buffalos were outnumbered and caught at a tactical disadvantage."

[those of you that have seen the movie "Midway" will remember this air battle scene! Tom Selleck is shown witnessing the massacre of the Marine pilots from the ground and remarks to himself, "damned antiques" [referring to the Buffalos]!!]

In Finland, the Brewsters enjoyed their greatest success. The aircraft did not arrive in time for the Winter War, but their impact in the Continuation War (1941-44) was remarkable.

"Despite this reputation, the F2a proved a potent weapon with the Finnish Air Force, against the Soviet Air Forces."

"The poor performance of the USMC in the aerial battle [Midway] sparked Finnish Ace Hans Wind to write his combat manual on Brewster; he analyzed the air combat, the tactical errors the Americans made and proposed tactics which the Finnish Brewster pilots were to use when encountering different types of enemy fighters. They [the tactics proposed by Wind] were later used with remarkable success in 1942-43"

The fighter was never referred to as the Buffalo in Finland; it was known [to the Finns as]:

* "the Brewster"

* "Taivaan helmi ('Sky Pearl')"

* "Pohjoisten taivaiden helmi ("Pearl of the Northern Skies")."

* "Pylly-Valtteri" ('Butt-Walter')"

* "Amerikanrauta ('American hardware' or 'American car')"

* Lentävä kaljapullo ("flying beer-bottle").

The Brewster was regarded [by the Finns] as being an excellent aircraft:

* "very easy to fly"

* "long range and endurance"

* "good maintenance record."

There were many other modifications to the B-239 that were made locally in Finland during its career. To include:

* "installation of pilot seat armor"

* "dispensed with most of the US Navy gear . . . resulting in a considerably lighter aircraft"

* "replacing the single 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun with a 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun."

[original versions of the Buffalo had one fifty caliber [.50] and one thirty caliber [.30] machine gun.]

* "Finnish Väisälä T.h.m.40 sights, which were based on the Revi 3c — were installed"

* "metric instruments"

The Finns were able to do with the Brewster as the Israelis were able to do with the American F-4 "Phantom" decades later. Take the basic aircraft and make modifications that "created" a more potent and deadly weapons system.

It is obvious to me why the Buffalo was a success when used by the Finns but not a success when employed by the American/British/Dutch aviators. The Finns maximized the pluses of the aircraft in combat while avoiding the weaknesses. Did NOT engage in aerial battles when the circumstances were to the detriment of the Finns. Use the aircraft [or any other weapons system for that matter] appropriately and you will be victorious.

Is it as simple as that??




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