F2A Buffalo, U.S. Carrier Fighter

Photograph of F2A3 Buffalo

U.S. Navy

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo





35'1" by 26'3" by 12'2"
10.69m by 8.00m by 3.71m

Wing area

209 square feet
19.4 square meter


4732-7159 lbs
2146-3247 kg

Power plant

One 1100 hp (820 kW) Wright R-1820-40 (G-205A) Cyclone nine-cylinder radial driving a three bladed propeller

Maximum speed      

300 mph (483 km/h) at 16,500 feet (5030 meters)
284 mph (526 km/h) at sea level.

Landing speed      

81 mph
150 km/h

Takeoff length

230/508 feet
70/155 meters

Rate of climb

41 feet per second
12.5 meters per second


30,500 feet
9300 meters


2 wing 0.50 machine guns
2 fuselage 0.50 machine guns


965 miles (1550km) at 171 mph (275km/h) or 7.0 hours normal
Maximum 1680 miles (2700km)


240 gallons
908 liters


11 F2A-1, 43 F2A-2 and 108 F2A-3 from 12/8/39 to 4/42 by Brewster Aircraft Company, Long Island City, NY.
An additional 170 went to the RAF in Malaya and 72 to the Netherlands East Indies as the B-339.


The –1 was armed with one 0.50 and one 0.30 machine gun.

The –2 lacked armor and self-sealing fuel tanks.

The Brewster Buffalo was the U.S. Navy’s first monoplane carrier fighter. As such its performance was much better than any previous Navy fighter. It was also exported in some numbers, and was much liked by Finnish pilots who received the aircraft during the Winter War of 1939-40, suggesting it was a good aircraft in its day. However, such was the pace of fighter development that the Buffalo was obsolescent by 1941, and it became notorious for its poor combat record over Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, and Midway. One historian has described it as "a true air inferiority fighter" (Spick 1997).

The first prototype flew in December 1937, after two years of development, and the first production aircraft were delivered in June 1939. Most of the early production aircraft were diverted to Finland as the B-239.

A small number of enthusiasts insist that the Buffalo was a better aircraft than its Pacific combat record suggests. Descriptions of its flight characteristics by different observers are contradictory, and one wonders if the addition of self-sealing fuel tanks, armor, and heavier armament spoiled the performance of later production models.


Brown (1988)

Gunston (1988)

Spick (1997)

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