Fujimi 1/20 Brabham BT-46B

KIT #: 091532
PRICE: 3600 yen plus 1/3 of 1600 yen shipping = 4133 yen (about $37.00)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2013 boxing

The Brabham BT46 is a Formula One racing car designed by Gordon Murray for the Brabham team, owned by Bernie Ecclestone, for the 1978 Formula One season. The car featured several radical design elements, the most obvious of which was the use of flat panel heat exchangers on the bodywork of the car to replace conventional water and oil radiators. The concept did not work in practice and was removed before the car’s race debut, never to be seen again. The cars, powered by a flat-12 Alfa Romeo engine, raced competitively with modified nose-mounted radiators for most of the year, driven by Niki Lauda and John Watson, winning one race in this form and scoring sufficient points for the team to finish third in the constructors championship.

The "B" variant of the car, also known as the "fan car", was introduced at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix as a counter to the dominant ground effect Lotus 79. The BT46B generated an immense level of downforce by means of a fan, claimed to be for increased cooling, but which also extracted air from beneath the car. The car only raced once in this configuration in the Formula One World Championship—when Niki Lauda won the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp. The concept was withdrawn by Brabham after one race even though the FIA had ruled it could be used for the remainder of that season.

There are basically two main players in the 1/20 scale Grand Prix car model market. One is Tamiya and the other is Fujimi. For sure, other companies produced these cars in this scale, but these are the two main players. 1/20 may seem like an odd scale to many, but the until recently, Grand Prix cars were rather small and the somewhat larger scale allowed for the sort of detail that car modelers wanted. You can find 1/24 cars as well, but they are few in number.

This Fujimi kit is of a one-race car, the Brabham BT46B. The kit is not a curbside and comes with a complete engine. In fact, all the engine and wheel parts are very nicely aluminum plated. The rest of the kit is molded in either white or black plastic. Black for the pan and suspension bits and white for all the body parts. The windscreen is molded in a transparent blue.

With all that suspension in the open, it is not surprising that the instructions start with you building up this feature and the engine. The engine is nicely molded with separate trumpets for the intake, so this will take a bit of time to build up but will be well worth it. On the underside of the flat 12 are four separate two piece exhaust assemblies. The mounting holes for these are pretty good size so fit should not be an issue.

Once the engine and rear suspension are built, the focus turns to the interior which fits into a tub that includes part of the exterior body work. This tub not only contains the seat, shifter and other inside bits, but also is the prime mounting area for the front suspension. Thanks to all the different colored bits, some thought will need to go into painting this feature.

The lower pan is attached to the interior section and the engine fits to the back of it. One then installs radiators, coolant lines, the wing side plates and the rest of the front suspension. The engine air box assembly is somewhat complex, though it should be fairly easy to install. In the back goes the large fan assembly that was peculiar to this car. A cover for the fan is also provided should you wish to use it.

The last bits of the 24 construction steps are the attachment of the wheels and tires, the rear wing, building the nose and upper body work, and attaching the final pieces.

Instructions are quite well done with lots of detail information as well as color references using Gunze paints. The decal sheet has markings for both the #1 and #2 car so you can do either Nikki Lauda's winning car or John Watson's mount. Decals look to be very nice and while they are perhaps a bit thicker than the norm, should work just fine. The tires have logo stickers that need to be individually cut out, but are very thin and previous experience with these has been positive.

It is not uncommon for racing cars to be produced as one off versions. So it is with the BT46B. It is a car that was raced one time, won its race, and was then converted back to a BT46. It is also the only car of its type ever raced in the Grand Prix circuit, making it one that every fan of the genre needs to have on their shelves.



March 2016

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