KIT: Special Hobby 1/72 F2A-2 Buffalo 'Yellow Wing'
KIT #: 72133
PRICE: 11.25 at www.hannants.co.uk
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run kit with resin parts.

HISTORY

In one regard, the Brewster F2A is considered one of those planes that were horribly obsolete when needed and little more than cannon fodder for the enemy. In the other hand, they were considered to be a rugged aircraft capable of going with the best of them and returning the pilot to fight again.

Hard to believe it, but both these descriptions are accurate. The difference is the quality of the man in the cockpit. For the US and the Commonwealth forces that faced the Japanese, they were overwhelmed by not only a superior aircraft, but by pilots that were all battle hardened veterans of earlier campaigns. With the Finns, it was just the other way around as their training was such that whenever they came against Russian pilots, even when the Russians were in equivalent aircraft, it was often the Brewster that came out on top.

Both were pretty much out of front line use by mid 1942, though the Finns still used theirs for tactical recon and in areas less likely to be attacked.

THE KIT

 This is the fifth injected plastic kit of the Brewster Buffalo.  Revell, Airfix and Matchbox had theirs in the late 60s and 70s, while Hasegawa joined that group in the 1980s with a very nice kit. So why do this one? Probably because MPM has already done it in 1/48 and 1/32 so figured to do the trifecta and produce a 1/72 kit.

It is obvious that there will be a number of boxings. One reason is that is the way it is with kits nowadays. Second, there are a number of parts on this one that are not used for this variant. A set of uncuffed prop blades, a windscreen with room for a telescopic sight, and a separate, sharper tail cone are on the sprues as is a larger tail wheel and a blanking plate for the underside transparency.

The parts themselves are standard MPM/Special Hobby/Azur with fairly nicely done engraved panel lines, a tiny bit of flash on all the parts, that miserable separate hub and prop blades, butt joins for the wings and stabs, ejector pin towers on the larger parts and a bag of non styrene (in this case resin) for the detail bits. It is nice to see that this kit comes in a zip bag, making it easy to store the bits. I also like that the underside of the ailerons and wing tips are molded with the upper wing section. Makes for a much sharper edge for the former and less sanding for the latter. I do hope this is a trend.

Resin is used for all the really fine parts like the interior side walls, engine, wheels, seat cockpit floor, accessory section  bits and the prop hub. These parts are superbly molded with no sign of pinholes or other glitches. There is a nice sprue of clear injected plastic parts. These clear bits are rather distorted so one needs to have the separate canopy bits open to see the inside. Oh yes, you also get alternate canopy sections , one of which you won't use, though they both look the same to me.

Instructions are standard MPM, though this time they have substituted Gunze color references for the long standing Humbrol ones. Perhaps this kit was developed during Humbrol's financial troubles when there was concern that the paints wouldn't be available any more. Markings are for two F2A-2s, both in the very colorful 'yellow wings' paint scheme. The box art plane is from VF-2 on the Lexington during 1940. the other option is from VF-3 aboard the Saratoga during that time. Basically change the red bits to white and you have it. All the stripes and bands will need to be painted on. The decal sheet is nicely printed but lacking the white 'F' for the VF-2 markings, so you'll have to find that somewhere else. The thin black outlines to the various bands is provided on the decal sheet.

CONCLUSIONS

Though I'd not have thought that yet another F2A would be in the offing, its popularity amongst builders has always been high. This one will provide another for the shelves and like all Special Hobby kits is one that needs a bit of experience before tackling.

January 2007

Jim Mass writes

 "I haven't yet seen the kit but from your remarks on the markings schemes, and what happened with the Special Hobby 1/32 kit, there's a problem with the '3-F-8' color callout. The Section color is not white, but True Blue. Aircraft 1,2,3 were red, 4, 5 and 6 were white and 7, 8 and 9 were blue. The error comes from my Sqadron/Signal book, where the series editor added a caption to a picture of '3-F-8' without double checking. For some reason, when '3-F-8' was photographed, the blue upper half of the cowling hadn't yet been painted. The photo was taken from the right side and the pitot happened to cross the cowling at just the right angle so it looked like a pinstripe. So at a quick glance, it looked like a white cowling top with a nice neat pinstripe. But it wasn't. Bottom line, the kit instructions are wrong - the section colors are blue.
 
I also suspect (again based on the 1/32 kit instructions, which includes the same schemes) that the MPM kit doesn't mention the 12 inch wide black anti-glare panel.  All yellow-wing F2A-1's and -2's had this.  For most aircraft it ran from the windscreen and ended at the rear edge of the cowling. '2-F-1' actually continued the anti-glare panel on the top cowling forward to the rear edge of the cowl ring. "

My thanks to Hannants for the review sample. Visit them atwww.hannants.co.uk for many more fine kits and supplies.

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