The Brewster Aeronautical Corporation operated from the early 1930s until the end of World War II, producing several lackluster aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and Allied air forces. Originally known for producing carts, wagons, and carriages, Brewster was manufacturing automobile bodies and aircraft parts by 1932. That year aeronautical engineer James Work purchased part of the firm and began making seaplane floats and wing panels.
Work hired Dayton Brown as his chief engineer to initiate new aircraft designs. Their first effort was a two-seat scout bomber for the Navy, with the single prototype XSBA-1 making its first flight on 15 April 1936. This was a monoplane with a retractable landing gear and an internal bay for carrying a 500-pound bomb. After an engine change, the aircraft reached the then-impressive speed of 263 miles per hour—believed to be the fastest single-engine bomber in the world at the time.1 Initially the maximum speed was listed as 254 miles per hour with the original Wright R-1820-4 engine; the range was estimated at just over 1,000 miles at cruising speeds. The “backseater” operated a flexible machine gun.