Dutch Brewster Buffaloes in Australia

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.

Brewster-Buffalo-MkI-RAAF-25Sqn-A51-13-exB3167-Perth-Australia-1942-01

Brewster B-339D Buffalo, ex ML/KNIL B-3167, here RAAF 25 Sqn. A51-13, after an unhappy landing at Perth

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!

25_Squadron_Buffaloes_A51_10_and_5_in_flight_c_1942_sized

Two RAAF 25 Sqn. Buffaloes (A51-10 and A51-5) in flight during 1942

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 .

RAAF KNIL USAAF Remarks
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

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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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