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Brewster Buffalo F2A-1 "The First in US Service" - 1:32 Special Hobby

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Brewster Buffalo F2A-1 "The First in US Service"
1:32 Special Hobby





The Buffalo was designed by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation in 1935 a US Navy requirement for a carrier based fighter to replace the Grumman F3F Biplane. As such it was one of the first US monoplane fighters. The prototype first flew in 1937 with deliveries commencing in 1939. Brewster had production difficulties and only 11 of the early F2A-1 aircraft were delivered to the USN with the remainder of the order being diverted to the Finnish Air Force. The US Navy and Marine Corps would order and receive the later F2A-2 and F2A-3 models although it was realised by this time that the Buffalo was no match for more modern fighters. It had been suggested that the later orders were just to keep the Brewster factories running, in fact they would later go on to produce Corsairs and other aircraft for the USN.

Overseas Finland ordered the aircraft in 1939, the aircraft being assembled by SAAB in Sweden. The Finnish after initial doubts liked the aircraft. The cooler weather in Finland solved overheating problems with the engine, and the aircraft went on to become a success with 477 Soviet aircraft being destroyed for only 19 Buffalos. Belgium had ordered the aircraft but only one was delivered before the country fell to the advancing Germans. Their order was subsequently transferred to the British. The British facing a shortage of combat aircraft purchased the Buffalo. The original assessment by the RAF was not brilliant. The aircraft lacked pilot armour, was under gunned, had poor altitude performance and there were issues with overheating, maintenance and controls. The UK still ordered 170 aircraft which were sent to Australia, New Zealand and the RAF. The aircraft were initially sent out to the Far East. The aircraft were plagued with reliability problems in the hot climate, performance was poor, and the pilots did not have adequate training on the aircraft. Given all these problems and the superior numbers of Japanese aircraft the Buffalos did not fair that well. Some did escape to the Dutch East Indies where they would join those operated by the Netherlands East Indian Army.

Overall while the aircraft was an advancement over the biplanes it replaced by the time it came into service the aircraft was already outclassed by the newer generation of fighters. In US Service it was replaced fairly quickly by Wildcats, Hellcats and Corsairs.

The Kit
Even in 1.32 scale this is not an overly large kit. It arrives on 9 sprues of grey plastic, a clear sprue, a sheet of photo-etch, an instrument panel film, and a bag containing resin parts. Even though this is re-release and the original was first released in 2008 there seems to be no mould wear. The kit features finely engraved panel lines, the parts look to be well moulded with no obvious defects All of the resin parts look cleanly cast, with only a little flash to clean up on a couple of parts. The kit is very much the same as the RAF boxing which was reviewed here earlier. This boxing contains additional parts, the main difference being different fuselage halves, and propeller sprue. The instructions have also been updated to the new style SH are doing today.






Construction starts in the cockpit, the instrument panel is made up by sandwiching the film between a plastic back and the front PE part. These are attached to a front part from which the rudder pedal assembly hangs. A centre instrument panel, along with two side ones are made up in the same way as the main one.




Next up is the pilots seat. The seat itself is only one part but the photo etch seat belts need to be added to this. The shoulder straps and lap belts are each two parts. The seat base can then be assembled which contains the primary flight controls, a floor mounted compass and other controls. PE parts are used here as well. Once complete the seat is attached to its armour plate, and then to the base. The control rod for the seat passes under the pilots seat.




Next up for construction is the forward bulkhead of the cockpit to which the instrument panel will be mounted. A lower box/tank structure is made up and the foot ways for the rudder pedal attached to the top, the completed instrument panel assembly is then added to the top. The rear cockpit bulkhead is also constructed at this time.




Construction then moves to the inside of the main fuselage. Various controls, radio boxes, the fire extinguisher, throttle controls etc are made up and added to this area. Once all these parts are in then construction moves back to the area in front of the cockpit, and the forward side of the cockpit bulkhead. The structure to hold the machine guns and their ammunition boxes is added, along with struts and fixings for the main landing gear which occupy the area under the guns & ammo. Lastly onto the front of all this the mounts and bulkhead for the engine are added.




Now that all of the internal sub assemblies are complete they can all be placed inside the main fuselage, and it can be closed up. Following this the engine can be made up. This consists of some detailed parts as it will be visible through the cowling. The cowling is then constructed around the engine, and the whole thing can be installed onto the front of the main fuselage. The tail planes, tail cone, and decking behind the cockpit are then installed at this stage.






Next up for construction are the main wings. These are of conventional upper/lower construction. However before they go together the bays for the main gear arms must be made up. There is a rear bulkhead to be installed along with four ribs. In addition the barrels for the wing mounted guns are fitted at this time. Clear lights are also mounted in the underside of the wings at this point. The completed wings can then be added to the main fuselage. For the early version C the gun blisters on the wings will have to be removed.






It is now time for the main landing gear to be built up. Each main wheel is in two parts which are joined together, The main landing gear leg is then added along with the gear door. the gear door arms are attached into the wing and the retraction struts into the area inside the main fuselage. The tail wheel is also built up at this point and attached.




To finish up the model the pilots head armour and rear canopy bracing struts are added. The cockpit transparencies are added along with the underside one. The propeller is made up and attached. Aerials are added along with the pitot tube, and the sighting telescope added as needed.




Clear parts
There is a lot of glazing on the Buffalo and the clear parts are exceptional. They are thin and distortion free with enough relief to make masking an easier job.




Markings for 4 aircraft are provided. The decals are by Aviprint, look to be in register and colour dense. The coloured stripes for the various aircraft are not supplied, but the black edging is so they will have to be masked and painted.


  • F2A-1, 3-F-1 Bu.No. 1396 VF-3 USS Saratoga 1942.
  • F2A-1, 3-F-17 Bu.No. 1389 VF-3 USS Saratoga 1939.
  • F2A-1, 3-F-18 Bu.No. 1388 VF-3 USS Saratoga 1939
  • F2A-1, Bu.No. 1393 Training Aircraft NAS Norfolk 1941 (Overall Grey).




Even in 1.32 scale this will not build up into a massive model. The parts are detailed enough for the larger scale and this should build up into an impressive model. Very highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of

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