The Brewster Buffalo – fighter or failure?

Book 1 of ‘The Java Gold does not go into details concerning the air defence of the East Indies (now Indonesia). Air power, however, played an important role during the fierce fight for these islands. It took the Japanese forces nearly three months to overcome the stubborn Dutch resistance.

The Dutch Air Force was hopelessly outnumbered, especially in the critical area of fighter – interceptors. The neutralist and pacifist view in the homeland prevailed too long and the necessary funds to re-arm were not made available until it was much too late.

By the time the Netherlands Purchasing Commission started negotiating in the US the only types they could find for sale were either obsolete or from second tier manufacturers. The Brewster Corporation was one of the latter.  Nevertheless, the NPC ordered 72 ‘Buffaloes’  (as the type was called by the RAF) and they became the backbone of the Dutch Air Defence in Java and the other islands. It was another example of ‘too little, too late…’ The fighters started arriving during 1941 and deliveries were not completed when the Japanese attacked.

Here is a compilation of newsreel pictures and footage from propaganda films that shows the Buffalo in action.

For a long time a discussion has been going on whether the Buffalo was a success or a failure as a fighter. Objectively speaking the plane was reasonably successful, despite a host of drawbacks that had nothing to do with the plane itself.
Read more about ‘The Buffalo Controversy’ on the Brewster Buffalo page

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About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
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