Finland Wants The Last Surviving F2A-3 Buffalo
The National Museum of
Naval Aviation has a Finnish Brewster Buffalo in its possession,
and the Fins want it back. The airplane had ditched into a Russian
lake in 1942 and was recovered in the 1990s by an American
Aviation enthusiasts in Finland want the US Navy to return the
Finnish air force plane. It is currently in the collection of the
Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
"Many air force officers, active and retired, would like to see
it back here," said Col. Jarmo Lindberg, head of the Lapland Air
Command to the AP. "Certainly WWII veterans and many other people
feel very strongly about this."
Finland's leading newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, recently ran a
story claiming that the plane still technically belonged to
The Brewster Company got the contract to produce the US Navy's
first all-metal monoplane fighter in 1935. Although underpowered
for the US Navy, 44 of the planes were sent to Finland, where they
eventually ended up being used after the country joined in the Nazi
attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. Finnish pilots were able to
perform their missions very well with the Buffaloes.
"It may be a historical footnote in U.S. aviation, but for
Finnish military and war effort the Buffalo is one of the main
cornerstones," Lindberg said. A massive search began in the 1970s
to recover an example of the aircraft.
Gary Villiard was also searching for a Buffalo for the National
Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola. In the 1990s, he located and
recovered the airplane from the icy waters of a lake in the Russian
region of Kerelia. The aircraft arrived at the museum last
The plane recovered was flown by one of Finland's top aces,
Lieutenant Lauri Pekuri, who had over 18 kills, 8 of them in this
machine. In his last mission in the aircraft, he was attempting to
evade Russian Fighters at low altitude. After taking hits, he
managed to down his attacker, but was forced to ditch the aircraft.
He managed to return to Finnish forces and fly for two more
years before being shot down again. This time, he was captured and
sat out the rest of the war.
Rather than restore the aircraft to a flying configuration, the
museum decided to preserve it as it looked when it sank to the
bottom of the lake.
With the exception of some bullet holes, the plane was well
preserved in the lake. The museum plans to exhibit it in Finnish
national insignia because of its historical significance. The
aircraft has a blue hakaristi on the side, a Nordic symbol of good
luck that happened to resemble the German swastika.
The head of the Pensacola museum, US Navy Captain Robert
Rasmussen, said the US Government may be willing to loan it to a
It doesn't seem to be much of a priority to Finnish diplomats.
They said that despite lobbying by the aviation community, they
were not pressing Washington to return the Buffalo.
"The Brewsters are important to us, but we haven't done anything
to recover this one," said Kristiina Helenius, spokeswoman for
Finland's embassy in Washington.