Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo


Geoff Fisken, NZ Buffalo ace

The notion of "best fighter of WWII" came up again recently on rec.aviation.military. The Buffalo was nominated because it created one ace for every 13 airframes. To which somebody replied: "But weren't they all Finns?" The answer:

"Not all.... Three British Empire pilots became aces flying the Buff. Geoffrey Fisken (a New Zealander with No. 243 Squadron) had six victories in the Brewster, and two others had five." -- Tim Noble (

Well, I checked Christopher Shores, and sure enough in Aces High he credits Fisken with a Ki-27 "Nate" on 12 Jan 1942; three A6M Zeroes on 14 Jan, 21 Jan, and 1 Feb; and two G3M "Nell" bombers on 17 Jan while flying the Buffalo. Here's what Shores has to say about him:

Geoffrey Fisken RNZAF "Geoffrey Fisken was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, on 17 February 1918, and was a shepherd prior to the outbreak of World War II. Enlisting in the RNZAF, he was posted to Singapore on completion of his training, initially to join 205 Squadron, RAF--a flyingboat unit. Instead he was trained by 21 RAAF Squadron to fly one of the newly arrived Brewster Buffalo fighters, and was then posted in March 1941 to 67 Squadron which was just forming; from there he moved to the new 243 Squadron when 67 was sent to Burma. As a slightly more experienced pilot at the outbreak of war, he was one of three men detached to Ipoh on 12 December to fly with 21 RAAF Squadron. Returning to Singapore a few days later, he took part in the defence of that island during January. On 31 January so few aircraft remained available to the unit, that the survivors were amalgamated into 453 (RAAF) Squadron together with their pilots, Fisken included. During his final engagement on 1 February he was shot up by two fighters as he was claiming a third shot down, and was wounded in the arm by a bullet and in the hip by a cannon shell fragment. Evacuated before the fall of the island, he returned to New Zealand where he was commissioned, and was subsequently posted to 14 Squadron, RNZAF, to fly Kittyhawks as a Flying Officer."

In three weeks in the Solomons, Fisken ran up his claims to 11, making him the leading Commonwealth fighter pilot against the Japanese. He was awarded a DFC and invalided out of the air force in 1943, whereupon he went back to farming.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

On this website: Front page | Flying Tigers | Chinese Air Force | Japan at War | Brewster Buffalo | Glen Edwards & the Flying Wing | Vietnam | War in the Modern World | The Spadguys Speak | Bluie West One | Poland 1939-1948 | Book Club | Book reviews | Question? | Google us | Website & webmaster | Site map

Other sites: Flying Tigers: the book | Daniel Ford's blog | Daniel Ford's books | Facebook | Piper Cub Forum | Raintree County | Reading Proust | Expedition Yacht Seal

Posted May 2019. Websites © 1997-2019 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.