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Brewster F2A-1
Finnish Model 239

Classic Airframes

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Classic Airframes Kit No. 4100 - Brewster F2A-1
Classic Airframes Kit No. 4101 - Finnish Model 4101
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: Three sprues of gray styrene, one sprue of clear styrene, resin and photo etched parts. Instructions, decal sheet and painting guide (see details below).
Price: MSRP USD$45.00
Review Type: Another Look
Advantages: Conforms to published plans; fine panel lines, extensive detail; busy wheel wells and clever engine mounting; excellent markings
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by Jim Maas

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Brewster F2A-1 and Model 239
 may be ordered online from Squadron


You can read Jim’s historical background of the Brewster F2A-1 / Model 239 in the Reference Library by following this link.

[Two disclaimers – I was involved in the development of this kit. On the other hand, I am also anal-retentive about Buffalos, so it should average out…]

Tamiya’s Buffalo has been with us for more than thirty years in 1/48 scale, but it cannot be used for a Finnish aircraft. Tamiya’s offering represents a later version, much like the difference between a Bf-109B and 109E. Every couple of months, there would be a posting on HyperScale looking for various conversions to retrofit the Tamiya kit to the earlier variant. These can now stop.

Classic Airframes is releasing two versions: the Finnish Model 239 and the U.S. Navy F2A-1 from which it was derived.

The kit contains three frames of injection parts, with fine scribed details, and one frame of clear parts including appropriate windscreen, canopy and ventral window options.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Also supplied is a small bag of resin bits including wing well interior spars and the rear portion of the Cyclone engine, and a photo etched fret with alternate instrument panels, seatbelts, wiring harness, RDF loops, gunsights and bomb racks and bomb fins.



Decals pertain to each release: U.S. Navy for the F2A-1 kit and a copious sheet of Finnish markings for the Model 239 boxing.

The first thing that struck me about this kit was the amazing feat of molding achieved with the engine mount. Yes, there is a complete structural interior for the gear well - a cat’s cradle of struts supporting the engine while accommodating the gear retraction mechanism. The kit even provides accurate forward and rear bulkheads and the rear section of the engine, which protruded into the landing gear bay. Reference to the Squadron ‘In Action’ book will show that some wiring and tubing can be added to taste, but this kit authoritatively addresses the gear well ‘black hole’.

Close examination of the plastic parts shows that the mold makers have paid careful attention to detail. The tailwheel opening has the correct ‘keyhole’ shape created by the F2A-1’s barrier guide. Depending on version, the differences between the U.S. and Finnish variants are addressed. For the Navy type, the life raft container under the rear canopy allows the builder to depict the octagonal RDF loop correctly, by shaping the photo etched piece over an angled frame. The Finnish release provides both the booted early tailwheel and the later, larger pneumatic type that was more suitable for land-based operations. The F2A-1 offers the telescopic gunsight and windscreen to match; the Model 239 release had the unpierced windscreen with both ring-and-bead and Revi-type gunsights used by the Finns. Also provided is a blanking plate for the Finnish variant, used to replace the ventral window on aircraft in late 1941.

The bottom wing, as you can see in the photo, is a one-piece carry-through part, insuring correct dihedral.



Be sure to clear any flash from the shell ejection slots (one under each wing gun and one on the port wing, just aft of the wing gear well). For both versions, fill and sand out the landing light hole on the starboard wing undersurface – only the British Model 339E had two landing lights, and you can draw your own conclusions that the molding provides for both…. By the way, the kit properly shows the characteristic ‘washout’ of the lower surface wingtips, common on late 1930’s U.S. designs like the P-38, P-39, and P-40. You may need to make an effort to maintain this feature when gluing the upper and lower wing parts together since the plastic seems rather springy.

The fuselage parts accurately shows the carbon monoxide vents on the rear fuselage just below the tail (on later F2A/339 versions, these vents were moved to the rear portion of the ventral window). For those of you using the Kagero Brewster F2A Buffalo book as a reference, please not that the kit locations are correct – the Kagero drawings have these vents too far aft.

The kit’s exterior detail even extends to the relief tube vent on the lower fuselage under the port wing.

Cockpit interior is extensive between plastic and photo etched components, even to the point of different panels for the two variants. My first reaction to the control column was “what’s that hot dog on a curved stick?” but in fact factory drawings show the control column is quite contoured.

The Finnish spade-shaped head armor is included on the Model 239 seat; a normal Navy seat is included for the F2A-1.

A very nice touch is the way the four-legged rollover pylon is molded in two halves; this avoids the frequently broken part seen in other Buffalo models.

The tailplanes have locator tabs to help with fit, although some flash removal may be necessary. The elevators seem to have a bit too much chord near the trim tabs, and the inboard side should be more rounded.


Although the photo is not a direct overhead shot, the rear contour of the elevator can compared to the kit part

You may wish to separate the elevators while working on them, since parked Brewsters commonly showed the elevators deflected down.

The major components compare favorably with several published plans for the F2A-1/239, with one or two provisos. Seen from the side, the depth of the lower cowling matches the Kagero book. It is shallower than that shown in the Avions Le Brewster Buffalo by Jean-Louis Couston, but noticeably deeper when compared to plans drawn by Finnish expert Pentti Manninen. I intend to shave a little depth off the bottom of the cowling but it’s not major drawback. For Buffalo purists, a little fiddling with the rear canopy may be in order. The bottom line of the rear canopy actually follows the fuselage stringer lines, so there is a subtle downward curve toward the rear – but only noticeable if you compare it to the bottom line of the sliding canopy.




Kit No. 4100 - F2A-1

Markings for the U.S. Navy release provide for each of the nine F2A-1’s that served with VF-3, at least as they were initially received – later remarking within the squadron resulted in BuNo 1396 being remarked as ‘3-F-1’ with red section leader striping, but this variation can be made by re-combining the kit decals.

The kit instructions also point out the 12-inch black anti-glare panel leading from the windscreen to the cowling; while not included as a decal, any quarter-inch wide black striping will do. Also included is an all-gray F2A-1 stationed at NAS Norfolk in 1941, the last remaining F2A-1, since the remainder were remanufactured as F2A-2’s.

Although not provided by the kit (since there’s no way it could have been!) the Navy F2A-1 can also serve to depict the wild Barclay disruptive color schemes which the Navy tried, and sensibly dropped, in 1940.

Click the thumbnails below to view color marking guides for this kit:


Kit No. 4101 - Finnish Model 239

The Finnish release provides markings for nine different aircraft, ranging from delivery aircraft in overall aluminum lacquer, green and black wartime birds, and even a post-war Brewster with white-blue-white roundels.

Click the thumbnails below to view color marking guides for this kit:


The Finnish markings options represent a great deal of research by Classic Airframes’ crack Decal Division, ranging from the latest research on correct undersurface colors to accurate Finnish beer bottle emblems, used as victory markings by Finnish ace Eino Luukkanen.

The serial numbers for later Finnish aircraft are accurately given in a combination of black and camouflage green, so try to match your upper surface camouflage green to the decal color for a correct representation.





The Classic Airframes F2A-1 and Model 239 kits fill a noticeable gap in 1/48 scale modeling. Along with the many other color schemes the kits make possible, it is now possible to build an accurate model of Finnish BW-393, the aircraft which scored more victories than any other aircraft on record.*

Classic Airframes’ well detailed kits provide for excellent representations of these historically significant airplanes.

These are really nice kits.


* BW-393 had 41 victories scored, with a variety of pilots. The Finns, making do with what they had, didn't have the luxury of replacing aircraft, so they performed amazing feats of repair and rehab. Other air forces would have simply junked an aircraft with 'x' many flight hours and put a new airframe into service.  Reportedly, the 'most kills of any airframe' achievement of BW-393 was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records folks some years back ( see http://heninen.net/brewster/english.htm third paragraph down), and I've certainly never seen any counter claim.

Thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample.

Classic Airframes kits are available worldwide through hobby retailers and from Squadron.com

Review and Images Copyright © 2005 by Jim Maas
Page Created 09 May, 2005
Last updated 09 May, 2005

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