Airfix 1/72 Brester Buffalo

KIT #: 02050
PRICE: $3.00 'started'
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1974 boxing


The Brewster F2A Buffalo was an American fighter aircraft which saw service early in World War II. Designed and built by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation, it was one of the first U.S. monoplanes with an arrestor hook and other modifications for aircraft carriers. The Buffalo won a competition against the Grumman F4F Wildcat in 1939 to become the U.S. Navy's first monoplane fighter aircraft. Although superior to the Grumman F3F biplane it replaced and the early F4Fs, the Buffalo was largely obsolete when the United States entered the war, being unstable and overweight, especially when compared to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

Several nations, including Finland, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, ordered the Buffalo. The Finns were the most successful with their Buffalos, flying them in combat against early Soviet fighters with excellent results. During the Continuation War of 19411944, the B-239s (a de-navalized F2A-1) operated by the Finnish Air Force proved capable of engaging and destroying most types of Soviet fighter aircraft operating against Finland at that time and achieving in the first phase of that conflict 32 Soviet aircraft shot down for every B-239 lost, and producing 36 Buffalo "aces".

In December 1941, Buffalos operated by both British Commonwealth (B-339E) and Dutch (B-339D) air forces in South East Asia suffered severe losses in combat against the Japanese Navy's Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Japanese Army's Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar". The British attempted to lighten their Buffalos by removing ammunition and fuel and installing lighter guns to improve performance, but it made little difference. After the first few engagements, the Dutch halved the fuel and ammunition load in the wing, which allowed their Buffalos (and their Hurricanes) to stay with the Oscars in turns.


I bought this kit started with the wings already being assembled. The previous owner had also removed all the parts from the sprues and put them into a zip bag. However, they are all there. Not sure if 1974 is the first release of this kit, and while I doubt it, the molding is actually very clean and free of flash.

These older Airfix kits are free of the usual inserts so the parts count is low. The kit can be built as either an F2A-2 or a British B-339 so there are optional parts. For the US version there is a windscreen that takes a telescopic sight, the life raft container that fits behind the pilot, a tail hook, and a smaller and different shaped tail gear/wheel. Conversely the B-339 has a flat windscreen, no life raft, and a larger tail wheel. In reality the rear of the fuselage should be shaped just a bit differently as it doesn't use the tail hook, but that isn't really all that big a deal and can be dealt with using filler if so desired.

For the rest of the kit, you have a single piece lower wing with the multi-framed lower window and upper wing halves. The cockpit floor sits atop the lower wing and there is a seat for furnishings. No instrument panel and not control stick. A pilot figure is included. Engine and cowling is adequate with a single forward cowling and sparate cowl flap pieces. The engine face fits into the forward cowling. Landing gear can be built extended or retracted. The lower gear leg is very thin and on most of the Matchbox and Revell Buffalos I've built, that area has eventually broken.

The instruction sheet looks like it has been entombed for a few hundred years as the paper is quite brown and somewhat stiff. Generic color information is provided along with the Humbrol paint numbers of the early 1970s. Humbrol has changed many of the numbers over the years, some of them several times. The two options are for a VF-2 USN plane and a British one, which I guess was based in Malaya or Burma as no unit information is provided. The decals by this time are, as you can see, toast but there are others available if you do a bit of looking. You could probably use a spare set from one of the Hasegawa boxings.

This kit has been superseded over the years by that of Hasegawa which was released in the 1990s. However, if you don't mind the raised panel lines, rivets, and lack of inside detail, it still can be made into a very nice model for the shelves and can be found at a pretty low price.  


March 2018

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