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Thread: Buffalo Confusion

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    Default Buffalo Confusion

    In looking over WGS Unofficial Aircraft V1.0, I notice that there are 3 entries for the RAF Buffalo, the 339E, the 339E-M, and the 339E-S, each with different game characteristics. This is the only place I have found these designations. Can anyone explain which is which, and specifically which was used in Malaya in 1941-2? Did the RAAF use the same version? My interest was only academic prior to this, but I have just acquired some Shapeways Buffaloes and now that action is imminent the issue has become critical.
    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2

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    I'm not a Stats Expert, but I found this:

    AAR: PTO Pre-campaign scenario (Allies - 488th RNZAF - Singpore) 16 January 1942

    There are some cards in the original post.

    And this early card from pre-2012: WGS UK and Commonwealth planes By Max Headroom - Buffalo
    Mike
    "Flying is learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss" Douglas Adams
    "Wings of Glory won't skin your elbows and knees while practicing." OldGuy59

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    Thanks Mike, I appreciate your taking the time. Cards are very useful (Max is a treasure trove).

  4. #4

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    Sorry, this is my fault. The designations are partly Zoe Brain's notes of the various batches the UK got from Brewster.
    The whole sorry story of this plane is fascinating reading.
    Try: The Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo: https://www.amazon.com/Sorry-Saga-Br...s%2C156&sr=1-2

    Anyway, Here's a summery of her notes from discussions back in 2013:

    B339E - RAF/RAAF Fuel starvation over 3000 metres, an extra 400 kg of armour, fire extinguishers, radio etc, a "1000hp" engine that usually delivered 700, all made this almost combat ineffective. Armoured and with self-sealing tanks.
    These represent the bulk of the Buffaloes in SE Asia.

    B339E-M (mod) RAF stripped down version, with 1000hp engines that delivered nearly their rated hp. No armour. Fitted with self-sealing tanks.
    These represent the efforts of field-stripping the extra weight out. Wiki notes that at least 1 squadron in Malaysia did this, but it wasn't widespread.

    B339E-S {actually it should be B339B-S; a typo on my part}
    RAF ultimately stripped version, with only 2 x 303 MGs and engines from Belgium ordered 339Bs. No armour. Fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks. These went to the FAA, and probably represent the ones at Crete.
    Hope this helps.

    Karl
    Last edited by Jager; 09-18-2019 at 12:44. Reason: sp
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    Karl,
    That is exactly what I needed to know. Thank you so much for your clarification.

  6. #6

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    Then there were the Finnish and USN/USMC variants...

    My thanks too to Jager for looking up my notes again, saved me a lot of time.

  7. #7

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    The RAF had a tradition of fierce alliteratives: Hawker Hurricane, Gloster Gladiator, Vickers Vildebeest, Supermarine Spitfire. It therefore christened the B-339 “Buffalo,” a name so apt that it was soon applied to all models of the Brewster fighter. (Though not by the Finns, who continued to call their fighters by the company designation of B-239.) Thanks to the modifications demanded by the RAF, the British variant weighed 900 pounds more than the equivalent U.S. Navy F2A-2. Its speed dropped accordingly, along with its climb rate, its service ceiling, and – most crucial for a fighter plane – its maneuverability. To make matters worse, Brewster shipped some of the B-339s with Cyclone engines refurbished from the Trans World Airways passenger fleet. These second hand engines almost certainly contributed to the dismal record of the Brewster Buffalo in British service. The Royal Air Force followed a triage system for allocating warplanes, reserving the Spitfire for home defense, sending the Hurricane and the Lend-Lease Curtiss Tomahawk (P-40, in U.S. Army service) to North Africa, and exiling the Brewster Buffalo to Southeast Asia. This was probably not the best place for it, to judge by the comments of British test pilot Eric Brown. “Delightful maneuverability,” he wrote of the Brewster fighter. “Above 10,000 ft. labors badly. Oil and cylinder head temperatures high in temperate climates.” (Italics added.) If an engine overheated in Britain, how would it fare in the tropics?


    The Yanks put the B-339 through its paces at Church Fenton in Yorkshire. Squadron Leader Walter Churchill (a Dutch-born Englishman with four German planes to his credit in the May 1940 Battle of France, and no kin to the wartime prime minister) complained that the fighter had no armor plate and not enough guns. Worse yet, its fuel tanks were built into the wings, and the wings into the fuselage, so that a single bullet hole could require a major rebuild. The tail wheel wobbled. The clock had no built-in timer, so the pilot couldn’t tell when to switch fuel tanks. “On no account,” Churchill concluded, “should this type be considered as a fighter without considerable modification.” However, it would make a dandy trainer, he thought. “It behaves with the ease of a Gladiator [biplane] and is just as simple to aerobat,” Churchill wrote. “So far we have found no vices.” So 71 Squadron used the Belgian B-339s as trainers. A few were also supplied to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in the Mediterranean, to serve with 805 Squadron on the beleaguered island of Crete. “A delight to fly – very maneuverable,” Squadron Leader Alan Black said of the Brewster, in a wonderfully understated critique. “It would have been an excellent fighter but the guns could not be fired.” (Italics added.) The problem, Black thought, lay in frayed electrical wires in the mechanism that synchronized the nose guns with the propeller. Only one of the B-339s ever set out on a combat mission, flown by a former Member of Parliament named Rupert Brabner. He turned back when the engine sounded rough, lost power before reaching the runway, and flipped the Brewster onto its back. Dayton Brown’s roll bar did its job, and the former MP survived to fly again. The plane did not: with the rest of 805 Squadron’s Brewsters, it was captured when German paratroopers seized Crete in May 1941.
    From THE SORRY SAGA OF THE BREWSTER BUFFALO first published July 1996 by Air & Space / Smithsonian magazine

  8. #8

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    Not until December 22 did the Commonwealth pilots meet the Japanese on nearly equal terms: twelve Buffaloes against eighteen Hayabusas. The Japanese lost one plane, the Australians six. That settled the question of who owned the air over Malaya, and the Royal Air Force retreated to Singapore island. Over Rangoon the following day, Vic Bargh saw his first hinomaru – the rising sun painted on Japanese warplanes. The American Flying Tigers got most of the credit for defending Burma, but RAF 67 Squadron was the vanguard that noon. It wasn’t a happy experience: “We met thirty-five or thirty-five [fighters] and a big mob of bombers,” Bargh recalled. “I had a fighter about two feet behind me all the time.… I had no armor plating, so I could see him easily. He was in a fixed undercarriage, what we called a Type 97 fighter. One [bullet] got by my ear. At that point I realized I couldn’t turn with him any longer. I spiraled down and I came up again … and there was another mob of bombers.” Bargh was credited with shooting down a twin-engined Mitsubishi heavy bomber, meanwhile performing a stunt unique in the annals of aerial combat: he took off his boot, slid back the canopy, reached around, and cleaned the windshield with his sock. “The oil … would just get too hot and overflow,” he explained. “As soon as the engine was at full throttle, this would happen.… But you had to use full throttle. The Japanese fighters were very good.”
    Ibid,

    Indicating that 67 squadron at least had gotten rid of much of the extra weight. These were field mods, and different planes may have had different configurations, omitting liferaft etc as well as armour.

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    And thanks to Zoe as well, for all the "local colour". I've just ordered a copy of Buffaloes over Singapore, and am plowing through Bloody Shambles v. 1. Very sad, but very interesting.

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  11. #11

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    Great info on the Buffalos, thanks Zoe and Karl.

  12. #12

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    Interesting!



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