Matchbox 1/72 Buccaneer S.2

KIT #: PK-
PRICE: 3 Euros when new
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard


The development of the Buccaneer S2 goes back as early as 1959. Blackburn Company was examining alternative engines to the Gyron Junior.  The Gyron Junior was also developed offering substantially increased thrust. Most promising at the time was Rolls-Royce RB163 Spey turbofan that was committed in its civil form for the De Havilland Trident airliner. Adopting the RB163 Spey for the Buccaneer required changes to both air intake and jet pipe. These design changes were refined during 1960 by which stage the Spey Mk 101 had been effectively selected for the Mk 2 Buccaneer.

The first prototype Buccaneer flew in mid 1963. Ever since its maiden flight it went through many development tests and trials. Buccaneer XK400 took part in handling and hot weather trials, the latter being conducted in Malta. The aircraft was designed for low level strike and had an immensely strong structure, used the most sophisticated aerodynamic shape with an area rule design technique to give smooth transonic characteristics. Low take off and landing speeds are achieved by the use of boundary layer control, air being taken from the engines and blown through the slots in the leading edge of the wing and tail plane, flaps and ailerons to give increased lift. Clamshell type dive brakes are fitted at rear of fuselage. The Buccaneer has four under wing pylon attachment points enabling a wide variety of strike weapons to be carried. Bombs could also be carried into an internal weapons bay.

The HS Buccaneer entered service with the Royal Navy in 1965 and Buccaneers of both marks were a common sight in the two Malta airfields namely Luqa and Hal Far. They carried interesting tail markings. When embarked, visiting Buccaneers of 801 Squadron carried HMS Victorious tail code ’V’, HMS Ark Royal ‘R’, Eagle ’E’, Hermes ‘H’, and Victorious ’V’ with Centaur ‘C’ in reserve plus carriers Albion ‘A’ and Bulwark ‘B’. Other Buccaneers that visited Luqa were those namely of No 12 Squadron RAF. These took part in bi-weekly routine exercises alongside Lightning fighters, Vulcan bombers, Victor tankers and Hercules C-130 support aircraft. Crew from both Buccaneer and Lightning squadrons also attended society meetings organised by the Malta Aircraft Enthusiasts at the premises in Floriana, where they were entertained and on their side were bombarded with all sort of interesting questions by the society members.

Buccaneer S2 featured in the kit markings represents XV867/611 when attached to 803 Squadron. 803 squadron was the 5th and final Fleet Air Arm’s Buccaneer Mk2 Squadron, which was formed on 3rd July 1967 at Lossiemouth, UK. This was the Buccaneer Headquarters Squadron. 803 had no assigned air group and its aircraft carried the Lssiemouth ‘LM’ tail codes. Its purpose was to carry out weapons trials and various testing, of which role its aircraft were engaged throughout the Squadron’s short existence.

Initially the squadron had 4 pilots and 2 observers, plus a weapons system engineer. It undertook trials on the Buccaneer’s weapons system and developed attack modes. At one point during the service life of the squadron it did fly on to HMS Hermes in the Indian Ocean in August 1968. During that period 4 aircraft departed Lossiemouth in the company of two Victor tankers and completing the deployment in less than 18 flying hours and 4 days. The demonstration of rapid deployment, which took part of Exercise Bobbin Plus, was perhaps the high point of No 803’s period with Buccaneer.


Moulded in 2-color plastic the kit comprises of 40 parts with engraved panel lines of somewhat coarse nature. There is one clear part, which is the cockpit canopy. The cockpit consists essentially of moulded on side consoles, two ejection seats and two crew figures. Instrument panel, internal wind screen and rear coming need to add. Most parts lack the detail we are used to with today’s standard of kits. Main undercarriage comes in three items each while the nose gear is moulded in one piece. The rear engine exhaust comes separate, as also are the air intake fronts, which reveal jet rotor front, which are separate part items. Wheel well detail is minimal and a little additional extra detail added will improve their appearance. No wing pylons, stores and wing tanks are provided rendering the kit as being very basic. The kit has a bulging bomb bay as adopted by the type on some of the RAF Buccaneers. The kit provides for two RAF machines options with 15 and 16 Squadron, these both being in standard dark sea grey and dark green upper surfaces and light aircraft grey lower surfaces.


 In spite of the kit being rather basic in its offering one can add a little extra work and make a good representable model, this offered some challenge in a way but was well worth the effort. My intention was to make this model into a Royal Navy S2 from the kit S2B. Basically this entails modifying the bulging bomb bay to bring it back to the original shape as carried on earlier S2s. A plain blank was made out of plastic card which was bent to a slightly curved shape and fitted in place of the one that was carefully removed with a razor saw.

I then followed the kit instructions adding detail to the cockpit interior as well as external detail as I went along. My aim was to produce a Royal Navy Buccaneer S2 that I picked from Xtradecal sheet XO14-72. In fact the one I chose to do was XV867/611 of 803 Squadron RN circa 1969. The type was based at the Navy land base HMS Fulmar in Lossiemouth, UK.

After replacing the bomb bay with a level one bent in shape to conform with the rest of fuselage,  the nose wheel well which was blank, was sawn open and a box like bay was made from plastic card to bring the deep bay complete with a floor. The exhaust outlets were drilled open and a couple of tube or pipes added. These were blanked at front end. Lead weight was added to the nose cone area. I cast two wing tanks in aluminium which were copies of wing tanks found in the Airfix kit (perhaps one of these days, Carmel will share with us how these can be done at home. Ed). I added Matra Martel wing pylons which were spare from a Frog kit of the Buccaneer and which were then also slightly modified to the shape of pylons that carry 1,000lb bombs and a single bomb was carried under each wing. A small air intake scoop added under the fuselage, and several aerials were also antennas added.


Wheel wells were white while sliding parts of wheel legs were metal finish. The kit was overall extra dark sea grey finish BS381C 640 for which I used the Model Master equivalent. Cockpit canopy was dark grey with touches of light grey, black and white. An overall coat of Johnson’s Klear was applied followed by application of decals. Leading edges were metal finish which I did using strips cut from a silver decal sheet. After application of decals the kit was given an overall sheen of semi gloss Model Master lacquer.


This was my third Buccaneer and with each occasion it proved to be a build different from either of the previous ones since they were a Navy S1 and a Gulf war RAF S2B. The Buccaneer was an impressive aircraft type and the mention of the type takes me to the low level runway beat up across Luqa airfield flying at tree top height, an attack role of which it was famous for to evade the enemy radar. 


REF: Wings of fame. Vol 14.

Carmel J. Attard

September 2013

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