Fighters' Reputation Among Its Pilots Was Less Than Stellar
The wreckage of a rare Brewster Buffalo fighter from WWII has been discovered in just 10 feet of water off the beach at Midway Island, a find that historians are calling an "exciting discovery."
The F2A-3 was not known as the most agile fighter flying for the Marine Corps during the war. The Corps had inherited the airplane from the U.S. Navy when it was determined that its landing gear could not hold up to carrier operations.
The Buffalo was built in a former car factory in Queens, NY, according to an enterprise report appearing in the New York Times. The airplane was noticed by divers employed by the federal government conducting an underwater cleanup of trash around Midway Atoll in June. The atoll is part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the far northwest portion of the Hawaiian archipelago.
The airplane did not go down in combat. Researchers discovered that the airplane had landed short of the runway in February, 1942, prior to the famed Battle of Midway. Lt. Charles W. Somers Jr. was the pilot who missed the runway during a squall. The plane sank in the lagoon, but Lt. Somers reportedly swam to safety.
National Naval Aviation Museum historian Hill Goodspeed called the find an "exciting discovery." The Pensacola, FL, museum is normally home to the only surviving example of the airplane, which was pulled from the bottom of a Russian lake in 1998 and restored. That airplane is on loan to a museum in Finland, which flew the airplane against the Soviets in the 1940s.