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 Post subject: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:53 pm 

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I was reading your F4F Wildcat article and I was wondering if you were planning a write up of the Brewster Buffalo? The Buffalo was an interesting aircraft. It was the U.S. Navy's first monoplane fighter aircraft and while its performance was disappointing in American and British service the Finns got quite a bit out of it.

Image
Buffalo in KNIL colors

The Brewster Aeronautical Corporation itself is also quite interesting. It only lasted for about 13 years (1932-1945) and its only claims to fame were the SB2A Buccaneer and the F2A Buffalo. Just about everything else they engaged in was a failure.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:13 pm 
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I'll likely get to the Buffalo sooner or later, but not with any enthusiasm. Brewster seems to have a very poor company culture. Curtiss seemed to have had a good company culture at one time, but by WWII it was decaying. I tend to suspect it was due to inept management that couldn't get things done, and couldn't hire people who could, or drove them out.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:34 pm 

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OakRidge wrote:
The Brewster Aeronautical Corporation itself is also quite interesting.


There's an article on the web called "The Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo". It could easily be titled "The Sorry Saga of the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation". It has to be the most bizarre and outlandishly ridiculous defense company of World War II, possibly in U.S. history.

From management to workers to production location to production processes, it makes one shiver and shift uncomfortably while reading about the whole sordid story. Not even industrialist genius Henry Kaiser could permanently fix Brewster.

They make Cramp Shipbuilding's submarine building program (another industrial debacle) during the war look like a well-oiled machine


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:41 pm 
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Everything I've heard about Brewster sez it was a dysfunctional organization.

What I'm puzzled about is what happened to Curtiss, which had been a credible organization in the prewar period, but then fell apart. Corporations have "company cultures", more or less traceable to management policy -- and they can go bad, with the hacks taking over and suppressing the people who can get things done.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:54 pm 

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gvgoebel wrote:
What I'm puzzled about is what happened to Curtiss, which had been a credible organization in the prewar period, but then fell apart.

Hm! You know, I've never actually looked into Curtiss. Looks like I have my "recreational research" topic for this afternoon. :)

A fantastic read on the American wartime industrial effort, with particularly emphasis on the aviation industry, is "Freedom's Forge" by Arthur Herman. It's immensely readable, almost like a novel.

Highly recommended for anybody with an interest in how the Arsenal of Democracy came about.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:03 pm 

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Curtiss was particularly baffling. Throughout the 20's and 30's, they supplied the USAAC with generation after generation of fighter. Of course, these were all in peacetime, when a lot of the predominant thinking was that fighters were an afterthought and the Bomber Would Always Get Through.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:45 pm 
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I can only think that Curtiss, in its senile days, must have been a wretched place to work -- people go in to work, just put in their hours, know better than to rock the boat, and at the end of the day say: "Screw it!" -- to go home to a nice stiff drink. Or several.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:33 am 

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It's worth bearing in mind, too, that Brewster was the scene of the crime for the only documented case of industrial sabotage in the United States during World War II - it was discovered by the Navy that the tailhooks of license-produced F3A-1 Corsairs had been sawed partway through.

It was (as I recall) never proven if this was the result of somebody with pro-Axis symphathies or a disgruntled-worker deciding to take his revenge through his work, but either way it says a lot about Brewster's corporate culture (the temptation is to say their corporate "culture" was a petri dish of E. coli).



In the sorry case of Curtiss-Wright I suspect they rode too much on the P-40's coattails - almost everything they pitched to the USAAF after the P-40 was in some way derived from it, even if the P-60 wound up in a 'Ship of Thesus' situation with regard to not just the P-40 but the original XP-60 too... while their Navy products after the war began were simply uninspired at best.

Now, it's been a long time since I read about it, but I want to say I recall that there was acutally some skullduggery afoot with the rejection of the XP-87 over Northrop's F-89 Scorpion; even if that's just shadows on the brain wall, it's interesting to muse on what might had been had the XP-87 had a proper engine (such as the J47 it was proposed to use in the production version) from the start instead of being saddled with Westinghouse's sorry excuse for a jet that was the XJ34.


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:29 pm 
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Curtiss had other problems other than being unable to come up with a better fighter. The C-46 Commando and SB2C Helldiver both took a long time to get working right. The SB2C was referred to as the "Son of a ***** Second Class".


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 Post subject: Re: Brewster Buffalo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 1:57 am 

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Curtiss-Wright still exists!

From what I've read, one of C-W's problems was that its corporate culture was oriented more toward shipping dividends to Wall Street than making sure that it had sufficiently well-engineered products so that it could continue shipping dividends there.

I think, that with the C-46, Curtiss over-reached. This was a company that did not have a great deal of experience in large transport aircraft -- I believe their largest previous transport was the T-32 -- and was not able to put the sort of resources into the aircraft that it required.

C-W also had some significant q/c problems with the R-2600 (http://enginehistory.org/Wright/R-2600/ ... land.shtml)


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