A Dutch freighter, carrying 21 crated Brewster Buffaloes, reached Tjilatjap (south Java) early March 1942. By then, the Japanese had invaded Java and, as the speed of the Japanese advance outpaced all efforts to bolster the crumbling Dutch air power, the captain of the freighter wisely set course for Perth in West Australia. There he handed the Buffaloes over to the USAAF. Knowing the desperate defense situation of the Australians, the Americans handed them almost directly to the RAAF.
All crated aircraft were land freighted from Perth to Melbourne where they were assembled at the workshops of Ansett Airlines at Essendon. Hurriedly test flown, the first batch of six was allocated to the RAAF No. 1 Photo -Reconnaissance Unit and at the end of May 1942 four of them had reached Darwin in Northern Australia.
A further nine machines were sent back to Perth to equip No. 25 Squadron RAAF, and for some time these Buffalos were the sole fighter defence for Perth and the adjoining port of Fremantle.
Two more Buffalos eventually reached the RAAF, in a rather curious fashion in October 1942. When the Central Gunnery School was established at Williamtown Aerodrome just outside Melbourne the field had just been vacated by the USAAF and two Buffaloes were literally found left behind on the dump!
The service life of the RAAF Buffaloes was rather short and not very successful. They were primarily used for reconnaissance and pilot training and by January 1944, most of the RAAF Buffalos had been returned to the Fifth Air Force in Australia for scrapping .
|A51-1||B-3171||No serial||WFU Sept ’43|
|A51-2||B-3175||No serial||W/O Tallarook 8/7/’43|
|A51-3||B-3177||No serial||WFU June ’43|
|A51-4||B-3184||No serial||W/O Laverton, June 16 ’42|
|A51-5||B-3186||No serial||W/O Derby, Sept 25 ’42|
|A51-6||B-3195||No serial||W/O Darwin Oct 29 ’42|
|A51-7||B-3172||“302”||WFU Nov ’43|
|A51-8||B-3181||“301”||WFU Oct ’43|
|A51-9||B-3176||“305”||WFU Jan ’44|
|A51-10||B-3178||“307”||WFU July ’43|
|A51-11||B-3179||“308”||WFU July ’43 (1)|
|A51-12||B-3168||“309”||WFU Nov ’43|
|A51-13||B-3167||“310”||WFU Nov ’43|
|A51-14||B-3174||“311”||WFU June ’43 (1)|
|A51-15||B-3183||“312”||WFU June ’43|
|A51-16||B-3180||“303”||WFU Nov ’43|
|A51-17||B-3182||“306”||WFU Sept ’43|
|B-3119||“3119”||To USAAF Australia|
|B-3169||?||To USAAF Australia|
|B-3170||?||To USAAF Australia|
|B-3173||?||To USAAF Australia|
|(1)||Parts of these machines, plus parts of of a Buffalo identified as “304” have been used to build the Dutch B339 replica|
I am grateful for the information I found in “Buffaloes among the Kangaroos”, Ralph Brading, Danforth Books