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Paul A H

Blackburn Buccaneer S.2C - 1:72

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Blackburn Buccaneer S.2C

1:72 Airfix

 

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The Blackburn Buccaneer was an all-weather naval strike aircraft designed and built by Blackburn Aircraft Limited (later Hawker Siddeley) to fulfil a Royal Navy requirement for an aircraft to counter the threat posed by the Soviet Navy's Sverdlov class of light cruisers. The requirement called for a two-seat aircraft capable of sustained low-level flight at up to 550 knots over a combat radius of up to 800 nautical miles. The resulting aircraft made use of a number of novel features in order to fulfil the mission requirements, including the use of fully blown wings to improve low-altitude performance, area rule fuselage and very robust design and construction in order to ensure survival of the airframe in its tough operating environment. The Buccaneer was able to carry a range of conventional munitions, as well as the 2000lb, 20 kiloton 'Red Beard' nuclear weapon.

 

The Buccaneer got off to an inauspicious start due to the relatively low power output of its de Havilland Gyron Junior turbojets, a feature exacerbated by the extra power needed for the blown flying surfaces. The S.2, fitted with more powerful and more efficient Rolls Royce Spey turbofans, was far more successful. The Buccaneer served the Royal Navy with distinction until the replacement of the last of the large carriers with the smaller 'through deck cruisers'. The Buccaneer was also offered to the Royal Air Force, but was rejected in favour of the TSR.2 and then the F-111. With the cancellation of both of these programmes, the RAF reluctantly accepted the Buccaneer as an interim measure until the MRCA became available. As it turns out, the Buccaneer served the RAF very well for over two decades and even participated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

 

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Notwithstanding the excellent-but-expensive CMR resin kit, fans of the Blackburn Buccaneer have been poorly served by kit manufacturers for far too long. The previous Airfix kit, along with the Matchbox and Frog kits, are long in the tooth and have issues in term of accuracy when it comes to the complex, area-ruled shape of Blackburn's finest. When Airfix announced their intention to redress the balance be releasing an all-new kit, it therefore seemed like a logical move for the Margate firm. Inside the red top-opening box adorned with the usual high-quality Adam Tooby artwork, are five frames of grey plastic and a single clear frame, holding 140 parts in total. The mouldings are clean and crisp, with fine, recessed panel lines throughout and plenty of nice detail on smaller parts.

 

The assembly instructions are divided into 84 stages, which gives a good indication of the level of detail that Airfix have crammed into their new model. Assembly begins with the cockpit, the tub of which reflects the correct offset arrangement for the observer's seating position. Speaking of seats, the three-part Martin Baker Mk.6s appear to be a pretty good representation of the real thing, although some photo etched harnesses are a must. Crew figures are included if you are so inclined. The tub, instrument panels and side consoles are nicely detailed, although decals, rather than moulded details, are used to represent the controls. The nose gear bay fits onto the underside of the cockpit tub. Once complete, the forward fuselage halves can be joined together, forming a small-sub assembly entirely separate to the rest of the aircraft. The distinctive profile of the nose, which has always looked off on the other injection moulded Buccaneers, looks spot on. The nosecone is not moulded as a separate part, however which means another seam to clean up.

 

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Once the forward part of the fuselage is complete, construction turns to the central part of the airframe. The lower part of the fuselage includes about 80% of the lower wing surface. In order for the pylons and fuels tanks to be attached, holes must be drilled at the appropriate points. The outer wing can also be cut away at this juncture if you wish to build the model with wings folded (yes please!). The inner structure of this section comprises the main landing gear bay inner walls, front and rear bulkheads and tube structures for the engines. The front and rear faces of the engines are nicely represented and it should be possible to clean up the internal seams on the engine air intakes prior to final assembly. Once all of the internal detail has been fixed in place, the upper half of the fuselage can be cemented to the lower half. 

 

At this point in the build, you really have to decide whether to finish your model with folded or extended wings. If building the former, you can attach the wing fold mechanism and then miss out the next few steps. If finishing your model with wings extended, little spars are included to help you align the separately moulded upper wing surfaces and to give the model strength. Whichever route you take, the last major step involves assembling the rear fuselage and tail. The vertical part of the tail is integral to each half of the rear fuselage, while the horizontal tail is a single, solid part. There are seperate parts for the RWR fairings, which is handy. Apparently the rear RWR cone is the wrong shape for an S.2C, but this is an easy fix if such things trouble you. 

 

The foremost part of the engine air intakes, as well as the rearmost part of the engine exhausts, are moulded in such a way that the clean up of seams will be absolutely minimal. The bomb bay can be finished in open or closed position. If the former, there is plenty of nice detail to catch the eye. The prominent air brake at the rear of the fuselage can be finished in open or closed position as well, and is nicely detailed. The Buccaneer's robust landing gear is nicely represented and subtle flat spots are moudled into the tyres. There are different parts for the arrestor hook depending on whether you build the model with gear down or up. Aside from the wing slipper tanks, you get two Matra rocket pods and two 1000lb free-fall bombs to hang under the wings. The canopy is nicely moulded and can be finished in the open position, although the instructions don't show this.

 

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Two options are provided on the original decal sheet:

  • XV154 of No. 809 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Ark Royal, January 1972; and
  • XV336 of No. 800 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Eagle, June 1971. 

Both aircraft are finished in overall Extra Dark Sea Grey with Type D roundels. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and a full set of stencils are included.

 

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Conclusion

 

I know I wasn't the only modeller to get excited when Airfix announced their new-tool Buccaneer. Thankfully, the finished product doesn't disappoint. The level of detail is very nice and it's clear that Airfix have put a great deal of thought into their model. There are plenty of options, such as folding wings, airbrake and bomb bay, and they are are all nicely realised. It would have been nice to have a low-viz roundel option, but in all fairness there isn't a huge amound of variety when it comes to S.2Cs. Overally this is an excellent model which finally plugs a huge hole in the world of injection moulded cold war British aircraft. Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of 


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Really looking forward to Airfix USA actually sending the kit I pre-ordered from them.  

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I applaud Airfix decision to offer us a "new tool" Buccaneer in 1/72 (though I'm a big fan of 1/48!) however, as with other recent kits from the company I have my doubts about the quality of the plastic and specifically, it's 'softness' and tendency to wrap.

 

Therefore, I would like to ask those who have already bought the kit if they have experience such an issue.

 

Again, my 'hats off" to Airfix for the new Buccaneer!

 

Cheers

 

Bill

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Excellent review, but a little disappointing to see that one of the parts appears to be short shot.  In the third sprue shown, the bulkhead, part B14, bottom right is incomplete.  I've checked mine and it's ok, so I wonder how widespread this is? 

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30 minutes ago, 593jones said:

Excellent review, but a little disappointing to see that one of the parts appears to be short shot.  In the third sprue shown, the bulkhead, part B14, bottom right is incomplete.  I've checked mine and it's ok, so I wonder how widespread this is? 

My kit is also ok. Well spotted !

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Well spotted, just checked mine and thankfully its OK

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1 hour ago, 593jones said:

Excellent review, but a little disappointing to see that one of the parts appears to be short shot.  In the third sprue shown, the bulkhead, part B14, bottom right is incomplete.  I've checked mine and it's ok, so I wonder how widespread this is? 

I had a look at that! Well spotted, however upon closer inspection it looks to be snapped rather than short-shot. Hopefully, given that, it will more isolated. :) 

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20 hours ago, Shalako said:

I applaud Airfix decision to offer us a "new tool" Buccaneer in 1/72 (though I'm a big fan of 1/48!) however, as with other recent kits from the company I have my doubts about the quality of the plastic and specifically, it's 'softness' and tendency to wrap.

 

Therefore, I would like to ask those who have already bought the kit if they have experience such an issue.

I have my doubts about the quality of Airfix's plastic as well, not diminished when I noticed that the surface of Airfix sprues starts going soft/dissolving when used just to stir Humbrol enamel.

 

But I have had no problems with the new Buccaneer.  The plastic is smooth and slightly glossy.  As far as I am concerned, the panel lines are now fine enough that any complaints about them would say more to me about the complainant than the kit.  Where I think Airfix could still improve is in the definition and sharpness of the detail parts and interior, eg ejection seats and cockpit consoles: the parts looks exactly like the CAD images but IMHO lack the sharp 90 deg angles and clear definition of the real thing.  With that one qualification I am entirely content with Airfix's new Buccaneer.  It's so good I'm actually building it!

 

2 hours ago, 593jones said:

Excellent review, but a little disappointing to see that one of the parts appears to be short shot.  In the third sprue shown, the bulkhead, part B14, bottom right is incomplete.  I've checked mine and it's ok, so I wonder how widespread this is? 

No problems with mine either.

 

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3 hours ago, Seahawk said:

I have my doubts about the quality of Airfix's plastic as well, not diminished when I noticed that the surface of Airfix sprues starts going soft/dissolving when used just to stir Humbrol enamel.

Many thanks for your reply Seahawk.

 

Cheers

Bill

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3 hours ago, The_Lancaster said:

I had a look at that! Well spotted, however upon closer inspection it looks to be snapped rather than short-shot. Hopefully, given that, it will more isolated. :) 

Hopefully that is the case as the rest of the part should be in the bag and repairable.  I'm very pleased with my kit, it's quite near the top of the to-do pile :)

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