Ground crews and their aircrafts.....

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules

Lucky13

Forum Mascot
47,303
22,950
Aug 21, 2006
In my castle....
Since we have the best, worst, most over and underrated aircraft fellas. How about something where we look from the ground crew point of view? Which aircraft do you think gave the people on the ground the most and the most severe headaches regards to the maintenance?
 
RAF's Brewster Buffalo - lack of spares, shoddy construction, inoperable weapons, the list goes on. It's one of the reasons why so many were lost - rather than in actual combat.
 
RAF's Brewster Buffalo - lack of spares, shoddy construction, inoperable weapons, the list goes on. It's one of the reasons why so many were lost - rather than in actual combat.
I'd like to know where you heard about shoddy construction on the Buffalo....
 
I'd like to know where you heard about shoddy construction on the Buffalo....

Shores' "Bloody Shambles"
Cull et al "Buffaloes over Singapore"
Helsdon-Thomas "Wings Over Burma - 67 Squadron"
Probert "The Forgotten Air Force: The RAF in the War Against Japan"

They all talk about the shoddy construction of the Buffalos that had been sent to Singapore Burma. The first two books use first hand official reports and interviews with both pilots and maintenance crews, and Helsdon-Thomas was a member of the maintenance crew for 67 Squadron. Probert's information comes from RAF reports back to London.

Issues include badly constructed engines (with leaking seals, poor finishing etc) and major problems with the guns (frequently jamming after the first few shots and with the synchronisation of the guns firing through the propellers - an issue that was only resolved in Singapore by the removal of said guns. In Burma, the system had to be redesigned using scratch materials).

EDIT - I've attached a scan from "Buffs over Singapore" as an example.
 

Attachments

  • Scan1002.jpg
    Scan1002.jpg
    170.4 KB · Views: 158
Shores' "Bloody Shambles"
Cull et al "Buffaloes over Singapore"
Helsdon-Thomas "Wings Over Burma - 67 Squadron"
Probert "The Forgotten Air Force: The RAF in the War Against Japan"

They all talk about the shoddy construction of the Buffalos that had been sent to Singapore Burma. The first two books use first hand official reports and interviews with both pilots and maintenance crews, and Helsdon-Thomas was a member of the maintenance crew for 67 Squadron. Probert's information comes from RAF reports back to London.

Issues include badly constructed engines (with leaking seals, poor finishing etc) and major problems with the guns (frequently jamming after the first few shots and with the synchronisation of the guns firing through the propellers - an issue that was only resolved in Singapore by the removal of said guns. In Burma, the system had to be redesigned using scratch materials).
OK - great book Bloody Shambles, but some corrections...

Things like leaking seals are not related to actual construction quality. Seals could go bad due to weather and temperature conditions and is regarded a maintenance issue. Finish requirements are dictated by contract and there were many items omitted from the RAF Buffaloes when compared to US Navy or Finnish aircraft. The gun sync problems were an engineering issue, again not related to quality. the operational squadrons paid for situations like this in the end...

There is always a misconception of aircraft quality when related to construction or operation. A well built aircraft may be demonized for poor quality when in actuality there were maintenance issues not addressed from completion to deployment, like the aircraft being dis-assembled, placed in a crate and allowed to sit on a dock or a ship for 3 months. Same holds true for things not functioning properly. The component may be built exactly as designed, but if not designed properly when the item fails, it's immediately identified as a "quality problem." This should sit with the engineer who designed the system....

The actual construction of the aircraft was very good as were most allied and German aircraft. The Japanese actually had poorly constructed aircraft (errors from the factory). Interchangeability was almost non existent. In the post war years we all know they learned quick...

I'm not trying to boost the image of the Buffalo, but many of the items pointed out in many books about the war related to aircraft quality, sometimes by pilots, are mis-directed and in the end the aircraft gets a bad rap as being "poorly constructed."
 
Flyboyj, I agree with all your points. Firstly, I should state that I probably used the wrong word. When I said shoddy construction I meant actual factory production. Reading your post, I realise that it was a poor choice of words.

I'm a great admirer of the Buffalo, and have been a staunch defender of the "flying barrel" on a number of forums.

From what I've read, apart from the issues that you have highlighted, all I can add is what pilots and more importantly, maintantence crews had reported. For example, when talking about finishing, they reported problems with metal shavings and even nuts and bolts within certain parts. Again, this is a quality control problem, but one that I would have thought would have been checked and rectified before despatch from the factories. (The above writers have also reported that some of their sources believed that this may have been deliberate sabotage by isolationist American workers or anti-British Empire workers - rumours that the writers have dismissed as merely wartime frustration with the aircraft).

However, the prop-firing guns were seen as a design fault, and one that could only be sorted by a redesign. Another design fault was the under-carriage lever, which required a new landing drill to sort out.

But for all that, the original question was what aircraft ground crews thought the greatest headache - and for reasons we have both highlighted, I think the Buff fights. I cannot think of any other aircraft in RAF service in SE Asia that was seen as so difficult.
 
Now shavings and FOD (loose nuts and bolts) a definite quietly problem. The reason why I ask is because I had an uncle who actually worked at Brewster. They had labor problems that ultimately affected quality. He said that at first everyone took pride in their work but when the union problems started, things got really bad.

He worked on the Buffalo and Corsair....
 
I have a soft spot too for the Buffalo. It did good in Finnish service during 1941-1945, the Brewsters were credited with 496 Soviet and German aircraft destroyed, against the loss of 19 Brewsters: a victory ratio of 26:1! Not bad, eh?
 
Now shavings and FOD (loose nuts and bolts) a definite quietly problem. The reason why I ask is because I had an uncle who actually worked at Brewster. They had labor problems that ultimately affected quality. He said that at first everyone took pride in their work but when the union problems started, things got really bad.

He worked on the Buffalo and Corsair....

I didn't know about the labour/union problems - that certainly explains the problems better than deliberate sabotage. Do you happen to know when these occured.

BTW, do you happen to know whether any histories have been written about the Buffalo company?
 
I didn't know about the labour/union problems - that certainly explains the problems better than deliberate sabotage. Do you happen to know when these occured.

BTW, do you happen to know whether any histories have been written about the Buffalo company?

I do know my uncle was working there right before the war started and things seemed to be going well, although I do remember him saying the Navy had a lot of issues with the plane and this was before Midway, although initially they were pleased with it. He left the company for a few years to go off in the Army; a training injury got him discharged. It seemed when he returned and when Brewster was ramping up to build the Corsair is when things got ugly. They went on strike and he decided to get another job.
 
The Bristol Beaufighter in US service.

Acquired under reverse Lend-Lease, the British dumped their discards and most tired birds on the Americans. Not making an editorial comment, just the facts. We did the same to the British in, for example, the 50 four-stacker destroyers.

However, in addition to getting worn out planes, the USAAF didn't set up a parts system for the four US Beau squadrons. They had to beg, borrow, and steal from the RAF to keep their fighters operationa.

The 417th used their B-25 squadron 'hack' as a transport and went all around the Med to various RAF Beau squadrons to get stuff. Even to the point of taking tires from a trash dump to use on the American planes.

Also, the sleev-valved Hercules engine was both unfamiliar to the US ground crews and had much less time between overhauls/engine changes compared to say, a Wright radial.

But I am biased.........
 
A number of other Zeros were captured by the Americans after the recovery of Koga's Zero in the summer of 1942, including a dozen A6M5s obtained after the fall of Saipan. A Grumman test pilot named Corwin H. "Corky" Meyer flew an A6M5a in October 1944 at a conference where the latest American, British, and captured enemy fighters were evaluated by test pilots in attendance.

Much later, Meyer wrote an interesting memoir of his flights. Meyer said the Zero looked "every bit the fighter" and regarded it as the "best looking fighter at the meet." He found it a delight to fly, and was surprised at the quality of manufacture, since in America at the time and indeed up to the late 1960s, "made in Japan" was the same as saying "junk". "The workmanship was superb and comparable to American quality. This was most amazing in light of the prewar Japanese products with which most of us had come in contact."

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero ("Zeke")
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back