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 HM - Model 7002 Brewster Buffalo - B339-E - NF-O, W8138 RNZAF 488 Squadron, Singapore 1941 FO Noel Sharp

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Kyushu J7W


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Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: HM - Model 7002 Brewster Buffalo - B339-E - NF-O, W8138 RNZAF 488 Squadron, Singapore 1941 FO Noel Sharp   Mon Mar 06 2017, 22:10

Producer - Hobby Master
Model 7002
Scale 1/48
Brewster Buffalo Export model B339-E - "Buffalo" NF-O, W8138
RNZAF 488 Squadron, Singapore 1941

B339-E Specifications

Power plant:One Wright R-1820-G105A Cyclone nine-cylinder, single-row air-cooled radial, rated at
1100 hp for takeoff. The reality was Brewster used other reworked commercial engines providing less HP of 1,000 hp.

Performance: In practice few of these performance specs were actually achieved.
Maximum speed - 323 mph at 21,000 ft, considered combat altitude at the time. This was less than the std B339. or F2A-2 due to the British adders and weaker engine.
Cruising speed - 256 mph.
Initial climb rate - 2300 ft/min reduced from 2600. An altitude of 15,000 ft could be reached in 7 minutes at best.
Service ceiling:30,675 ft, but never tested in actual combat and the Buffaloes rarely had a height advantage.

4479 lbs empty,
6500 lbs gross,
6840 lbs maximum takeoff.


Wingspan 35 ft,
Length 26 ft,
Height 12 ft 1 in.,
Wing area 209 sq. ft.


Two 0.50 in. machine-guns in the wings, two 0.50-in. machine-guns in the upper fuselage.
2 bombs.

[/b]The Brewster F2A-2 was modified for export with the RAF ordering over 200. The RAF designated the plane the B339 Mk. I Buffalo. 167 land based “E” ( for England) versions were shipped to Singapore and Northern Malaya to equip RAF and Commonwealth squadrons. Western bias towards the Japanese led the allies to consider the B339-E adequate until they encountered the vastly superior in maneuverability Nates, Ocsars and Zero.

The E was basically a version of the US Navy F2A-2 with B339 being Brewster's project number for the land based version. The Brewster factory removed the navy life raft container and arrestor hook. It was initially intended to be fitted with an export-approved Wright R-1820-G-105 Cyclone engine. Many aircraft were fitted with secondhand Wright engines sourced from well worn Douglas DC-3 airliners. In theory these were altered to the 1820 std. The Brewster aircraft delivered to British and Commonwealth air forces were significantly inferior in performance to the F2A-2 & the original B-339 with top speed reduced from 323 mph (520 km/h) to 313 mph (504 km/h) at combat altitudes.

The E added many new items requested by the Brits, including a Mk III reflector gun sight, gun camera, a larger pneumatic tire tail wheel which was less aerodynamic, fire extinguisher, engine shutters, larger battery, self-sealing fuel tanks, gun & canopy heaters, in addition to reinforced armor plating and armored glass behind the canopy windshield. Everything the Dutch were supposed to get and did not. Brewster B-339E wrecks were cannibalized by the Dutch for the wind screen armor.  

Maneuverability was severely impaired (the aircraft was unable to perform loops), and initial rate of climb was reduced to 2,300 ft/min. In service once combat was joined, some effort was made to improve the type's sluggish performance with a few aircraft being lightened some 1,000 lb (450 kg) by removing armor plate, armored windshields, radios, gun camera, and all other unnecessary equipment, and by replacing some .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns with .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns. The fuselage tanks were filled with a minimum of fuel, and run on high-octane aviation petrol where available. At Alor Star airfield in Malaya, the Japanese captured over 1,000 barrels (160 m3) of high-octane aviation petrol from British forces, which they promptly used in their own fighter aircraft.

The pilot of the RNZAF NF-O was Flight Officer Noel C. Sharp who downed 3 aircraft and damaged 2 bombers. His personal nose art, a striking Chinese dragon motif was painted on the fuselage under the cockpit windshield. The aircraft was destroyed at Palembang, South Sumatra during a Japanese bombing raid on 7 February 1942. He was just 20 years old when last seen waving after setting fire to his successfully crash landed Hurricane after being hit by ground fire behind Japanese lines on Java. How he died is unknown but he had just been strafing Japanese ground troops and the pattern had been established of pilots who bailed out routinely being shot in their parachutes. After the war he was listed on the memorial tablets in the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore, he was never found. Sharp was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 20 December 1946

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first US Navy monoplane fighter and one of the first of the modern fighters available when the United States entered the war, with production beginning in 1938. In a competition to replace the F3F, the Buffalo went up against the Grumman submission of the XF4F-1 a double-row radial engine "classic" biplane. Navalized P-36 and P-35 fighters were also proposed. The F2A Buffalo won & the XF4F went on to be redesigned and emerged as the monoplane F4F Wildcat. The new Brewster fighter had a modern look with a stubby fuselage, mid-set monoplane wings and a host of advanced features. It was all-metal, with flush-riveted, stressed aluminum construction, control surfaces were still fabric-covered. The XF2A-1 also featured split flaps, a hydraulically operated retractable main undercarriage (and partially retractable tailwheel), and a streamlined framed canopy. However (as was still common at this time), the aircraft lacked self-sealing fuel tanks and pilot armor. It was the smallest Navy fighter, single seat, set up to be carrier or land-based. The early under armored & gunned versions were light and surprisingly nimble. These were the versions exported to the Finns.

Both the F2A-1 and the early F2A-2 variants of the Brewster were liked by pre war Navy and Marine pilots, including Pappy Boyington, who praised the good turning and maneuvering abilities of the aircraft. Boyington is alleged to have opined "...the early models, before they weighed it all down with armor plate, radios, and other [equipment], they were pretty sweet little ships. Not real fast, but the little [aircraft] could turn and roll in a phone booth. ( His language was actually very different in regards to the equipment adders, peppered with words we can't reproduce here. ) Laughing

You can see where the weight started to come from. Still trying to confirm if the armor weight in the E was heavier vs the early F2A-2.

F2A-2 Navy ...........................................Model 339 E British
1. 1820-40 Wright Engine......................1. 1820-G105A Wright engine
2. Curtiss Electric Propeller.....................2. Hamilton Standard Propeller
3. Prop Cuffs........................................3. No cuffs
4. No shutters......................................4. Shutters
5. Navy Instrument arrangement............5. English Instrument arrangement
6. Navy seat.........................................6. English seat
7. Navy Throttle....................................7. English Throttle
8. Electrical System 12V.........................8. Electrical System 24V
9. Battery 17 Amp hour..........................9 Battery 38 Amp
10. None...............................................10. Flare and Release
11. Very Pistol.......................................11. Recognition Device
12. Navy Radio......................................12. English Radio
13. Manual 5 lb. CO2 Fire Extinguisher......13. Manual heat temperature and shock 5 lb. Fire Extinguisher

14. No fuel and oil protection...................14. External Linotex protection
15. Cartridge Starter..............................15. Electrical Inertia Starter
16. Retractable carrier type tail wheel.......16. Fixed pneumatic tail wheel
17. Inherent flotation..............................17. None
18. 200 rounds .50 cal in each wing..........18. 500 rounds .50 cal in each wing
19. Navy camera on side of fuselage.......19. Camera in wing
20. None...............................................20. Jettisoning sliding canopy
21. Non Electrical...................................21. Electrical Pitot Tube
22. One landing light..............................22. Two landing lights
23. None..............................................23. Upper and Lower identification lights
24. None..............................................24. 1 qt. Hand fire extinguisher
25. None..............................................25. Cockpit, windscreen, and wing gun heating
26. Telescopic Gun Sight........................26. Reflector Gun Sight
27. None..............................................27. Pointy tail cone

Eric Brown is quoted as saying after test flying one of the earlier export models. "My feeling after flying the Buffalo was one of elation tinged with disappointment. It was a true anomaly of an aeroplane with delightful maneuverability but poor fighter performance. Indeed above 10,000 ft. it was laboring badly."

Although superior to the Grumman F3F biplane it replaced and the very early F4F monoplanes, the Buffalo was largely obsolete when the United States entered the war. That did not stop orders from Britain, the Netherlands and Finland before WWII in Europe actually broke out. Finland did not get their F2A's in time to fight the first war with the USSR, but when Germany invaded in 1941 they joined in what they called the "Continuation War", using the F2A to great effect against the VVS units.

While the Buffalo and Brewster have been much maligned the development paid off in other ways. This was a time of rapid aeronautical advancement. The aircraft was tested in 1938 in the Langley Research Center full-scale wind tunnel, where it was determined that certain factors were contributing to parasitic drag. Based on the tests, improvements were made to the cowling streamlining and carburetor/oil cooler intakes, and the Buffalo's speed rose to 304 mph from 277 mph with no increase in engine power. Other manufacturers took notice of this 10% increase in speed and efficiency, and wind tunnel tests grew to be standard procedure in the US. Every other fighter produced by the US benefited from this initial research.

The increase in armament & armor on later models like the A-3 caused a corresponding increase in weight which deteriorated severely performance and flying qualities. Existing engine technology and the limitations of the airframe did not allow the needed improvements to make it a viable fighting machine for the war in western Europe or south east Asia. Lacking self-sealing tanks, additional problems were weakness in the landing gear and insufficient armor-plating which were never resolved before production was terminated in 1943. After only a few months of active duty in Allied service, the F2A Brewster Buffalo was replaced by the F4F Wildcat and the remaining planes were put to use as advanced trainers.


 488 Squadron was the name given to two distinct Royal New Zealand Air Force squadrons during the Second World War. Both were formed under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme and served under the operational command of the Royal Air Force.

488 (NZ) Squadron was formed on 1 September 1941 at Rongotai, New Zealand under Squadron Leader W.G.(Wilf) Clouston, a veteran of the Battle of France and Battle of Britain with nine victories to his credit. The squadron was one of several Commonwealth squadrons equipped with Brewster Buffaloes, and arrived at Kallang Airfield on the southern end of Singapore in November 1941, where it took over the Brewsters of No. 67 Squadron RAF. Kallang was shared with a Brewster detachment of the 2-VLG-V of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force, and No. 243 Squadron RAF, in which most of the aircrew were Kiwis.

When the Japanese attacked, the squadron was still in training and sorting out difficulties with its machines, including dysfunctional oxygen which prevented high altitude flying, weight difficulties which resulted in armor and machine guns being deleted and high maintenance requirements resulting from Brewster's use of worn out ex-airline engines in manufacturing the aircraft (which had been supplied to No. 67 Squadron in March). There were also problems getting spares and with the peacetime red tape and restricted flying hours laid down by the British High Command in Singapore. All squadrons in Malaya except No. 488 had been passed as ‘trained to operational standards’ by the time war broke out, but experience was to show that their training had been based on an underestimate of the Japanese Air Force.

No. 488 Squadron had its first major combat on 12 January. Eight aircraft, led by Flight Lieutenant MacKenzie, were ordered to take off to intercept an enemy raid coming south. A further six aircraft, led by Hutcheson, took off twenty minutes later. The enemy force was sighted by MacKenzie's formation over Johore. The New Zealanders were at 12,000 feet and the enemy, comprising approximately twenty-seven Type O and Army Type 97 fighters in formations of nine, were 3000 feet above them. The Kiwi formation lost two aircraft, had five damaged and two pilots wounded, without having inflicted any known casualties on the their better trained enemy. Both types of Japanese aircraft were able to out maneuver the overladen Buffalos with the greatest ease. Also their altitude and weight of numbers gave them an overwhelming advantage

The next day eight aircraft intercepted 30 Type 96 bombers, making contact with them and attacking from below. Flight Lieutenant Hutcheson was shot up by rear-gun fire and crash-landed at base. Pilot Officer Greenhalgh attacked an Army 96 bomber. Although only two guns fired, he managed to get smoke from one engine.

Pilot Officer Oakden was shot down into the sea by rear-gun fire from a bomber, and was rescued by a Chinese sampan, sustaining slight injuries to his face. Sergeant Clow was shot down in the sea, swam 400 yards to a small island and was picked up by some Chinese in a sampan and returned to Kallang. Score, four aircraft written off and one damaged with no loss to the enemy.

As the Buffalo squadrons (many manned by New Zealanders and Australians) lost men and machines, several were amalgamated into 488 Squadron. Clouston had presented a plan "Get Mobile" to provide daylight air cover off the coast to Admiral Phillip's Force Z, but this was rejected by the Navy. Fighter cover did not arrive until the Repulse & Prince of Wales had been sunk. Though they were initially blamed, this late arrival was not the fault of the air arm.

On the morning of 22 January Kallang was heavily raided with practically no warning at all. Four aircraft, led by MacKenzie, were taxiing out to take off when bombs started to fall on the aerodrome. The pilots immediately opened their throttles and took off amid a shower of dust and smoke. Three of them got away successfully but the fourth, Pilot Officer Farr,1 was blown into a petrol dump by a bomb which landed close beside him. He later died of his injuries.

By 24 January No. 488 Squadron had two serviceable Buffalos. The Japanese had complete air superiority and Kallang, the only remaining airfield outside Japanese artillery range was bombed incessantly. The native workers fled and it become impossible to repair the airfield.

On 30 January it was decided to keep only eight Hurricanes and the remaining Buffalos at Singapore. All other fighter forces were to be evacuated to Sumatra or Java. No. 488 was the last squadron whose ground staff remained on Singapore

Losses and the ground situation forced a withdrawal to Palembang, Sumatra where they found the Japanese waiting, their aircraft fuel starved and the RAF ground staff fighting Japanese paratroops near the airfield. Within a few days they moved to Tjililitan airfield, near Batavia, Java, where Dutch East Indies Buffalo squadrons were facing a similarly unequal fight. Clouston handed over command to Squadron Leader MacKenzie and stayed with remaining staff to become a prisoner when Singapore fell. Timely early warning from British radar would have reduced some of the losses, especially in avoiding unnecessary losses from raids on airfields, but the first British radar stations only became operational towards the end of February. Had they been ready earlier the Japanese might have found the invasion more costly and at least temporarily delayed.

The story was the same on Sumatra and Java high odds, chaos, airfields under constant attack. Disbanded on 2 March, the remaining New Zealand pilots returning home after a hazardous cross island escape. They stayed to the last possible minute, risking encirclement hoping Flying officer Sharp might still show up. These men formed the nucleus of No. 14 Squadron RNZAF. Figures for the squadron's achievements in the Far East are difficult to determine, but one notable pilot of 488 , Pilot Officer Noel Sharp, who flew a Brewster Buffalo in Singapore, is credited with three victories.

Noel Callan Sharp Distinguished Flying Cross

Flying Officer Noel Callan Sharp, DFC (9 February 1922 – 20 February 1942) was a New Zealand pilot of No. 488 Squadron RNZAF. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Sharp worked as a bank clerk. Sharp is credited with three kills during the Malayan Campaign. He claimed an unknown Japanese fighter on 12 January, a Nakajima Ki-43 the next day, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero on 18 January and damaged two bombers on 20 January.

He was shot down on 17 January 1942, but survived. Engineers were able to repair his aircraft, replacing the front section of the engine cowling with that of another plane. Sharp was evacuated from Singapore before its capitulation, along with his Buffalo. The aircraft was destroyed at Palembang, South Sumatra during a Japanese bombing raid on 7 February 1942.

Sharp was killed in action over Java on 20 February 1942, while flying a Hawker Hurricane with No. 605 Squadron RAF. He was 20 years old. HIs name is on the memorial tablet in the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore, Sharp was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 20 December 1946.

Every time I look at this photo I get the feeling I'm on the island of misfit toys. If your an older American reading this you might have a song stuck in your head right now. If you think about it, they all did disappear. One has been found at the bottom of a lake in frozen Finland. Coincidence? He has the lines of a Buffalo, the undercarriage and his line was An airplane that can't fly.

The cockpit is surprisingly detailed. The glass in the floor, to me at least, would have been a bit more frightening as a weak spot vs being of any real value with all those thin panes and blocked views.

Many official British historical sources blame the loss of Malaya and Singapore largely on the Buffalo's poor performance. However, the picture is not entirely that of an unmitigated disaster, and many Buffalo-equipped units gave a good account of themselves before they were overwhelmed by superior Japanese numbers.

Accurate figures on the combat losses of British Buffalos are difficult to come by. Approximately 60 to 70 Buffalos were lost in air combat, 40+ were destroyed on the ground in Japanese bombings and shelling of airfields, 20+ were lost in various non-combat related accidents, four were transferred to the Dutch, and six were evacuated to India. Commonwealth Buffalo squadrons claimed at least 80 kills, and some units may have achieved a 2-to-1 kill ratio. This total of course includes bombers, ground attack and recon ships with fighters being a smaller % of the claimed victories. . .

The most successful Buffalo pilot was Sgt Geoff Fisken. He had a distinct advantage over most Buffalo pilots at Singapore. He was one of a handful who's job it was to test fly assembled Buffalos at the Selatar assembly airfield. This gave him almost 200 hours and unique experience in the type that rookie members of 488 squadron did not have.

SGT. GEOFFREY BRYSON FISKEN 6 victories RNZAF 243,453 Squadron WIA Feb. 1, 1942. Later in the war flew in No.15 RNZAF Squadron in P-40's, claiming 5 more victories to become the top scoring Commonwealth pilot against the Japanese before being invalided out due to wounds .

F/LT. MAURICE HENRY HOLDER 5 victories RAF 243 Squadron KIFA July 16, 1942 (2 and 3 shared
destroyed, and 2 shared damaged) He returned to the UK, only to be killed in a training accident.

F/LT. RICHARD DOUGLAS VANDERFIELD 5 victories RAAF 453 Squadron (plus 1 shared probable)
SGT. MALCOLM NEVILLE READ 4 victories RAAF 453 Squadron KIA December 22, 1941 December 13, 1941 3 shared Ki-51's December 22, 1941 1 Rammed a KI-43
F/LT. DAVID JOHN COLIN PINCKNEY 4 victories RAF 67 Squadron KIA January 23, 1942 (Plus 3 claimed victories, with 603 squadron previously in Europe.
SGT. BERT SAMUEL WIPITI 4 victories RNZAF 243, 453 Squadron later KIA Northern Europe
SGT. C. V. (Vic) BARGH 4 victories RNZAF 67 Squadron 4v Know claims based on the book "Bloody
Shambles": He like Geoff Fisken gained many hours testing the assembled Buffaloes at Selatar,

SGT. VIVIAN ARTHUR COLLYER 4 victories RAAF 21/453 Squadron
F/LT. JACK ROTSTON "CONGO" KINNINMONT 4 victories RAAF 21/453 Squadron
F/O. NOEL C. SHARP 3 victories RNZAF 488/243/604 Squadrons
F/ LT. TIMOTHY ASHMED VIGORS 3 victories RAF 243/453 Squadron WIA December 13, 1941

KAPT. JACOB.P.VAN HELSDINGER 3 victories 2-VIG-V KIA March 7, 1942
LT. AUGUST. G. DEIBEL 3 victories 2-VIG-V WIA January 12, 1942; WIA February 19, 1942
KAPT. ANDRIAS. A. M. VAN REST 2 victories 1-VIG-V

The F2A/B339 was not a bad aircraft, it was leading edge at its time, but change was rapid and by the time it was used it had been surpassed. However proper fighter tactics suitable to the aircrafts strengths, even a rudimentary early warning system allowing the pilot to attain an altitude advantage and pilot training showed just what it could do in the right situation. like many western designs it was tough and the armor protection paid off in pilots surviving to gain needed experience.

Some excellent books on the subject . Shores, Cull and Izawa are the source for detailed information on this period of time . The books found on line can be pricey. Good Xmass gift suggestions though Smile


488 squadron photos courtesy Gordon Birkett (assisted by Brendan Cowan).web pages on the NZDF Buffaloes.


If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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PostSubject: Re: HM - Model 7002 Brewster Buffalo - B339-E - NF-O, W8138 RNZAF 488 Squadron, Singapore 1941 FO Noel Sharp   Mon Mar 06 2017, 22:59

Another example of a seemingly endless series of bad decisions I've made in die cast. I had one of these and sold it as something else caught my eye, now I wish I still had it in my collection. Nice thread Kyushu.
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HM - Model 7002 Brewster Buffalo - B339-E - NF-O, W8138 RNZAF 488 Squadron, Singapore 1941 FO Noel Sharp
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