AZ Model 1/72 Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard

KIT #: AZ7342
PRICE:  12.00 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment
NOTES: Short run with resin engine

HISTORY

In early 1918 George Handasyde of Martinsyde designed a new fighter powered by a 300hp Hispano-Suiza engine, the F.4 Buzzard.  The prototype F.4 was tested in June 1918, and  demonstrated excellent performance, being easy to fly and manoeuverable as well as being one of the fastest aircraft of its time. Large orders followed, with 1,450 ordered from Martinsyde and other manufacturers. It was planned to equip the French Air Force as well as the RAF and a further 1,500 aircraft for the USA was planned.

Deliveries to the RAF had just started when WWI ended. Martinsyde completed those aircraft which were part built, but all other orders were cancelled. The Buzzard was not adopted as a fighter by the post war RAF, which preferred to use the Sopwith Snipe, because it was cheaper, in spite of its lower performance.

Martinsyde bought back many of the surplus aircraft from the RAF, and turned many into two seat tourers and floatplanes. After the company went bankrupt in 1924, these aircraft were bought by the Aircraft Disposal company  which continued to sell F4 variants for several years.

The RAF had received 57 Buzzards before the end of the WWI, but these did not reach operational squadrons.  The company had more success selling the Buzzard overseas,  with Spain (30 aircraft), Finland (15 aircraft) and the Soviet Union (100 aircraft).

These aircraft had long careers, with six of the Spanish Buzzards remaining in service at the start of the Civil War. Eight Jaguar engined versions went to Latvia and were used until1938. Buzzards were also sold to civil owners for use as Tourers, racing aircraft and for survey and seal spotting work in Canada.

One notable Buzzard, which might make a nice and simple variant for this kit, competed in the King's Cup Race in 1922. It was coloured yellow overall, and was known as the Musterdside.

THE KIT

For the first time,  AZ let me down with this kit. Normally they are of a high standard, especially for a limited run kit. Perhaps I got a rogue one, but a few of the parts were not well moulded. The engine front cover especially had poor detail on the radiator slats, which couldn't be rectified. The fit of the interior was very bad. And the fuselage didn't mate at all well, due to warping. (Sounds like typical AZ to me. Ed)

CONSTRUCTION

The cockpit has a good seat and controls, but as so often happens the whole thing, especially the floor, was far to wide to fit inside. The only thing to do is tear it out of whichever side you have cemented it to, and reduce it, this time brutally with a scalpel, to nearly half its width. Even the seat need trimming. Re-cement it in place and offer up the other fuselage half before its sets fully in case more is needed.

As usual with biplanes, once fuselage and tailplane were in place I sprayed everything   silver, and did the wings separately. The struts were detached, cleaned of seams, and painted wood brown. The metal fittings at each end were black, as were some details on the fuselage such as front cowl fasteners. I tried some Clear Orange on the struts from the Vallejo range and found that, unlike Tamiya Clear Orange, it doesn't clump, and it dried matt.  The propeller however would have been polished and so I used the Tamiya Orange on that.

Normally I attach the upper wing to the cabanes first and then offer up the main plane struts. This time however, the cabanes were the wrong length, and induced a horrible downward slope to the wing. And so I reversed the process by adding the upper wing to the mainplane struts. Once set, it was a question of offering up the cabanes with tweezers and adjusting their length accordingly. Not an easy process but one which is looks much better than the downward slope of the upper wing the first around.

Notice also, that the main struts are not parallel in alignment. This strikes the eye as a little off at first, but the photos confirm it is accurate.

Rigging was done by my usual method of elastic thread, coloured silver with a gel felt tip pen, and anchored using drops of gel superglue applied with a sharpened toothpick. Note that the rigging here is a little more complicated than most biplanes. The inter-strut rigging is as normal, but there are extra wires from the top of the forward undercarriage leg to the middle of the wing leading edge and also to the outer strut. Check the photos,  they are very clear.  A few extra wires to the control horns on the tailplanes add a little extra to the whole appearance.

One has to make the exhaust pipes from cut lengths of rod, and glue them onto the cylinder banks. A fiddly job, but worth doing.

The windscreen was not included in the kit, and so a simple rectangle was cut from clear sheet, and the top corners round off. Clearfix held it in place.

I decided to use the skis shown in the photos below, and cut them from 20 thou plastic card, and bend the forward edges upward. The mounting fittings were carved from wide strut rod, and a hole drilled to accept the axle ends. A couple of wires fore and aft were added as per the photos. And a nice pair of wheels can be added to your Big Bag of Wheels in the spares box, which is always a bonus. Handy tip: I cut through the sprue so that they were stored in a pair, which makes finding them in the future easier.

Finally, as always, the propeller was put in place at ten to four.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Nothing very hard here, simply silver overall, with some black details. I decided on the Finnish option. One reason being that, according to the excellent pictures of one in a museum on the websites below, the radiator cowl is black, and thus obscures the worst of the flawed moulding. I could have tried to scratchbuild a new one but estimated it would have taken longer than the rest of the kit, to little effect anyway because the black absorbs most of the light. Decals went on without any problems, something which I always find with AZ kits.

CONCLUSIONS

A very purposeful looking fighter and one of the great might-have-beens, thanks to its engine being much more powerful than any rival. I have made a few Finnish aircraft, notably the VL Pyry and VL Myrsky from WWII, also by AZ, but this is my first Finnish biplane. Finland also used the Fokker D VII, in a splinter camouflage of several colours which might make for a nice companion to this one.  The few caveats above are easily rectified by anyone with a little experience. And finally one ought to say a large thank you to AZ and many other Czech companies for making so many aircraft which the mainstream manufacturers ignore. Think back to 30 years ago, and you will realise how few exotic or unusual aircraft were on offer. We are living in times of plenty.

REFERENCES

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Finland---Air/Martinsyde-F.4-Buzzard/1357143/&sid=d6cfb090a82e5835227fd31d53cdbe1c

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martinsyde_F.4_Buzzard_(MA-24)_K-SIM_01.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martinsyde_F.4_Buzzard_(MA-24)_K-SIM_03.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martinsyde_F.4_Buzzard_(MA-24)_K-SIM_04.jpg

http://mil-history.livejournal.com/1036486.html

 

 

Thanks t

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