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U.S. Navy and Marine Fighters, Early to Mid-1942
F2A-3 Buffalo and F4F-3 Wildcat
Both of these types fought side by side in defense of the island during the Battle of Midway. At the time, navy carrier squadrons were no longer equipped with the Buffalo, but the marines still flew the type from land bases. Midway was equipped with just one marine fighter squadron, VMF-221, with the pathetic total of 20 F2A-3 and seven F4F-3 aircraft. At the time the pilots had no experience against Japanese air forces, and the services were just beginning to develop the tactics needed to combat more maneuverable enemy planes. As a consequence, Buffalo fighters took a beating during the battle, and the surviving pilots were scathing in their assessment of the fighter. Buffalos were used somewhat successfully in other theaters by other nations, so it's possible the aircraft could have had some success in US service. Equipped with a larger engine (as was the Wildcat), and flown by pilots using newly developed tactics, like those applied during the Guadalcanal campaign, maybe the Buffalo could have made a name for itself. Of course, that is a big supposition, though stranger things have happened. The reality, of course, is expressed by one of the surviving pilots: "It is my belief that any commander that orders pilots out for combat in a F2A-3 should consider the pilot as lost before leaving the ground..."

For a highly readable history of the naval and air campaign for Midway, may I suggest Gordon W. Prange's Miracle at Midway. As an aside, I've been watching "Crusade in the Pacific: America at War" on Netflix. This is a Time, Incorporated documentary made in 1951 (I was eight years old at the time and living in Guam, so I missed it on first run). While dated, the editing of the film seems to be more accurate than most. For example, portions showing the Guadalcanal campaign seem to have actually been filmed on and over Guadalcanal and not in France (don't laugh, I once saw a movie in which a C-47 took off, then crashed as a P-40E). Also, there is very little confusion between the types of aircraft being described in the narrative and what is showing on the screen. There is an interesting (and very quick) shot showing B-17E or F types flying in formation with a B-17C. In addition there are lots of action shots of B-24s, B-25s, A-20s and many fighter types.

Hobby Master
F2A-3 Buffalo 2-MF-13
MVAS Ewa, VMF-221, Hawaii, April 1942

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F4F-3 Wildcat
VF-3 "Fighting Three" USS Lexington (CV-2), Bismark Sea, 20 Feruary 1942, Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare

Photographs Copyright © Collin Riley 2005-2014

Copyright © Collin Riley 2005-2014 Email Diecast Airplanes & Waterline Ships
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