Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo
"Battle of Midway"


Special Hobby, 1/48

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: SH48032 - Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo "Battle of Midway"
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 82 parts in grey styrene, 4 parts in clear injection molded for canopy, 4 parts in cream colored resin 36 etched metal piece and printed film for the instrument panel. Instructions and decal sheet for four aircraft.
Price: USD$39.96 on line from Squadron.com
Review Type: FirstLook - In Box
Advantages: Highly detailed with finely engraved panel lines and surface features.
Disadvantages: Poorly packed clear parts resulting in scratching and separation from the sprue.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman

Special Hobby's 1/48 scale F2A-3 Buffalo 
is available online from Squadron 




Fed-up with Brewster and the shortcomings of the Buffalo, the U.S. Navy put in it final order for the F2A Buffalo in January 1941.  This was to be the “improved” –3 model.  The F2A-3 had a lengthened fuselage, increased fuel and ammunition capacity and increased armor.  As one author put it, “The result was…the sports car transformed into a slug”.* 

The –3 was assigned to VF-2, VF-3 and VS-201. VF-3 flew the –3 Buffalo for only a short period of time, replacing them with F4F-3 Wildcats.  With VS-201 on the USS Long Island, the –3 Buffalo was relegated to neutrality patrols in the Atlantic, and was kept on after war with Germany was declared in anti-submarine patrols until April 1942. 

At the time of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the only Navy squadron in the Pacific to operate the –3 Buffalo was VF-2 aboard the USS Lexington. The –3 scored not one kill with VF-2 and was again replaced by the F4F-3 Wildcat.  It seems that the Navy was quite happy to rid itself of the –3 Buffalo, as it suffered from landing gear failures, due to its increased weight. It appears that “[t]he Navy solved the F2A-3 problems the way it often solved problems with unsatisfactory equipment: by giving it to the Marines.”* 

Two Marine units received the cast off –3 Buffalos, VMF-211 on Palmyra Island, which was south of Hawaii and VMF-221 on Midway Island, west of Hawaii.  It was with VMF-221 that the Buffalo scored its first American wartime victory.  But it was during the Battle of Midway that the Buffalo earned its reputation as an inadequate fighter aircraft or a poorly utilized fighter.  The debate continues to this day.





This Buffalo is no carbon copy of the old Tamiya kit.  First, it is a –3, with the lengthened fuselage. Second, there is extensive interior detail, especially in the wheel bay area. Finally, the surface detail is far superior.  Gone are access panels that stand proud of the surface, as are the over done fabric control surfaces. 

The forward part of the fuselage has the framing and guns for the gun bay.  There is a fuel tank that sits in the location under the cockpit floor and above the old observation window, which has been removed.  There is also engine support framing and the rear of the engine is done in a finely cast piece of resin. 


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The finely engraved plastic is free of flash.  The sprue gates are some of the least intrusive I have seen in a limited run kit. Even so, care must be given to removing parts from the sprue. You will also need to remove a few injection stubs, especially on the inside of the wing components.   As with most limited run kits, there are no locating pins to help align the parts. 

Similar to a Hasegawa kit, the Special Hobby –3 Buffalo includes parts for the earlier versions of the F2A.  The instructions indicate which parts are not to be used with an “X”. 

There is an extensive set of etched metal, which includes break lines for the landing gear and bomb racks.  There are two small bombs in injection molded plastic, but the fins are in etched metal. 

The clear parts are quite clear and the framing is quite well done, which is an aid in masking.  There are clear parts for all variations of the F2A.  The canopy for the –3 is noticeably different, as it should be, in that the heavy framing on the sliding portion was replaced with butt joined and sealed Plexiglas pieces.  The Squadron/Signal In Action on the Buffalo indicates that there was a small emergency ration hatch on the bottom portion of the first frame on the left side of the rear portion of the canopy.  This is not molded on the kit canopy.  I presume this could be represented by simply not masking that part of the canopy when painting.   

The biggest problem with the clear parts is that they are in with all the other pieces, unprotected.  Given that the clear parts are much less flexible than the other plastic in the kit, many snapped off the sprue and some were scratched.  As the decals and etched metal were packed in separate plastic bags, so should the clear parts.


The Special Hobby –3 Buffalo comes with well printed, by AVIPRINT, and in-register decals for four aircraft. All aircraft are depicted in USN Blue-Gray over Light Gray. 

The colors are referenced for Gunze paints. 

  • VF-2, USS Lexington, Novermber 1941.  Coded 2-F-18, flown by Howard S. Packard.  This aircraft carried the smaller national marking with a red center. 

  • VMF-221, MCAS Ewa, Hawaii, April 1942.  This aircraft is coded 2-MF-13 and carried the larger national marking with a red center and has the red and white striped rudder, for which a decal is provided. 

  • VMF-221, Midway, June 1942.  This aircraft is coded MF-15 and was flown by Capt. William C. Humberd.  This aircraft carries the national markings without a red center and without a striped rudder. 

  • VMF-221, Midway, March 1942.  This aircraft is coded MF-11. But to make up the code you will need to cut off the “5” from the VF-15 marking and replace it with the additional numeral “1”.

 Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:



There is no question that this model will literally fly off the shelves with regard to those modelers who want to do a Battle of Midway theme collection.  Granted the Blue-Gray over Light Grey scheme may be a bit monochromatic, but with this release of the –3 Buffalo and the imminent release of the Accurate Miniatures Vindicator, it should be add to a most interesting collection. 

I’m sure there are many modelers who will say that the Tamiya kit is fine at nearly half the price. This is true, if you only want to make a –2, or don’t care if you scratch build the changes for a –3.  But given the level of detail of this kit, and its price in relation to other current kits (which are not nearly 20 years old), this looks to be one very fine kit. 

Just looking at the parts on the sprues, this looks like a kit that would be fine for a modeler less experienced in limited run kits.  On the other hand, those etched metal parts could be quite daunting, as many need to be bent into shape and some could be super-glued to one’s forehead just as easily as to the cockpit.  With care, I believe this will build into a fine looking model.

Highly Recommended


  • F2A Buffalo in action; by Jim Maas; Squadron/Signal; 1987. 

  • The Sorry Saga of The Brewster Buffalo; by Daniel Ford, Air & Space, June/July 1996.*

Thanks to MPM / Special Hobby for the review sample.

MPM kits are available worldwide through hobby retailers worldwide and at Squadron.com

Review and Images Copyright © 2005 by Steven Eisenman
Page Created 03 June, 2005
Last updated 28 June, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page