Planespotting: Brewster Buffal discovered in Midway Lagoon

10 Feet Below Waters Off Midway Atoll, a Famous Flying Dud

Even as a child, this airplane never captured my attention. I had a Time-Life book (a big orange-covered one called Aircraft of World War Two or something like that – I’ll have to dig it out one day and take a picture) that had the Buffalo in it. Two or three years ago I read an account of the early battles by Australian and New Zealand units based on Papua New Guinea, and there was a section on fighting the Japanese in the Brewster Buffalo. Awful plane, but there were some successes.

Anyway, from the article it appears that the aircraft will not be salvaged and restored. Officials have not yet decided whether any artifacts will be recovered for display. There is only one ‘complete’ Buffalo in the world, which is on display in Finland. This aircraft has wooden wings and a Russian engine.

Very interesting, I’d never heard of them before and now I see why. The article of course makes you wonder just what the kill ratio would have been if the Japanese Zero had ever flown against the Russian craft they mentioned that the Buffalo did well against. ‘One sided’ is an extreme understatement.

That’s a very good article, and well researched. As regards the Russian planes they were up against in Finland, I suspect a great many of them were of this type, making a far better match than the Zero:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polikarpov_I-16

I find the comments about the added armor and other modifications interesting. The Zero was such a fast and maneuverable airplane precisely because it lacked armor plating and self-sealing fuel tanks; once one was captured intact in the Aleutians, it was an easy matter to design fighters to defeat it (specifically, the F6F and F4U). Also, when the P-38 with its enormous concentrated firepower entered combat in the Pacific, it easily chewed Zeroes into little pieces.

The F2A wasn’t the only US plane to fare badly at Midway. These were shot down like flies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_TBD_Devastator

As Wiki states, though, it was the Devastator attacks that opened the window of opportunity for the SBD dive bombers to attack—even worse luck for the Japanese than for the Americans.

That even looks a bit like the Buffalo.

The F6F Hellcat was the real Zero-killer. IIRC, Corsairs shot down 2,140 Japanese aircraft (again, IIRC, a Betty wasn’t actually shot down, but was sawn down by the Marine’s propeller when he ran out of ammo). The Hellcat shot down more than 5,168 – including 8 in the MTO.

There were Zeroes in the Mediterranean? :dubious:

I recall naval aircraft (both USN and RNFAA) being used in Operation TORCH (November, 1942), but they would have been up against German, Italian, and Vichy French planes, surely.

I always liked the Peashooter