I've had a sneak preview of The Brewster F2A by Capt. Richard Dann USN (ret.), which Steve Ginter will publish this summer as Number 104 in his remarkable series on US Navy warplanes. It's a large-format book, 176 pages, with many sideviews and other drawings, and an absolute feast of photographs! I can't get enough of the photos, and I have to confess that so far they haven't allowed me time to actually read the text. (Sorry, Rich!) Here's a sample, showing what was likely the first of the B-339s ordered by Belgium in 1939 -- the first foreign order received by the Brewster company.
The plane was completed in April 1940, given the temporary registration of NX56B, and flown to Houlton, Maine. From there, it was supposedly pushed across the Canadian border into the town of Woodstock, New Brunswick, so as to comply with US neutrality laws. (I'm not sure I really believe this -- Woodstock has no airfield, though perhaps 56B was flown out of a farmer's pasture.) It left a Nova Scotia harbor on April 27, but the freighter was still at sea when the Germans invaded Belgium on May 10, so it was re-routed to Bordeaux in southwest France.
As the story is told, the peripathetic Brewster was still in its crate when France surrendered, and the Germans assembled and tested it. Somehow it survived much or most of the war, perhaps as a station hack, though it still bore the Belgian roundel when it was blown apart, probably by an American or British bomb at Darmstadt, where this photo was taken in 1945. It's from the collection of Richard Bueschel (1926-1998). He may even have taken the photo, since he served in the USAAF that year. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
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Posted May 2017. Websites ©1997-2017 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.