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F2A-3 Buffalo
Defender of Midway

Special Hobby, 1/72 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Special Hobby SH72126 - F2A-3 Buffalo
Scale: 1/72
Contents and Media: 45 mid-grey plastic parts on one sprue, 6 very clear injection moulded plastic parts on one sprue, 13 mid-grey resin parts on nine casting blocks, decals for 3 US aircraft by Aviprint plus an 8 page A5 instruction booklet with history, parts plan, 6 build diagrams and 3 pages of paint/decal drawings.
Price: GBP11.25 available online from Hannants and specialist model retailers worldwide
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Highly detailed resin cockpit, engine and wheel wells, injection moulded canopies, Aviprint decals for three US Navy and Marines aircraft and extra parts for Dutch/Australian 339 23 Buffalo.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Glen Porter

 Special Hobby's 1/72 scale F2A-3 Buffalo will be available online from Squadron.com



The Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo was the third in the line of US Navy fighters which had proved more successful in foreign hands than in US service. Some US aircrew said they'd rather go into battle in an F2A-1 than an F4F Wildcat, but that they didn't want to go into battle in an F2A-3 at all. The problem was, the later aircraft had gained close to a half ton in weight but engine power hadn't kept up. The 339 23 was even worse, taking something like 30 minutes to reach 28,000 feet.

MPM/Special Hobby has done their homework on this one. In the mid to late 1990s, Hasegawa released the Finnish 239 Buffalo and the US Navy F2A-2 and later the Finnish aircraft again as the US Navy's F2A-1. These were basically good models, although with minor faults and lacking some interior detail. Hasegawa never got around to the F2A-3/ 339 23 or 339B, D or E.

Well, now Special Hobby have released their own 1/72 scale F2A-3 with the extra parts to build a 339 23. I assume the next release will be the same plastic with Australian and possibly USAAF decals.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Hasegawa has a reputation for good clean crisp mouldings. This offering from Special Hobby might not be quite that good - some parts will need a little clean-up - but it is almost there and it does not have any of the faults found in the Hasegawa kits.

As good as the plastic is, it is the resin that makes this kit stand out against the opposition. The resin interior is simply superb. There are eight resin parts that make up the cockpit interior, 2 side walls, seat and its base, instrument panel and rudder pedals and forward floor and control column.



There are also several plastic parts for the cockpit such as the fuel tank, rear shelf and raft container and the front bulkhead. All the parts are highly detailed and the only item missing is the seat harness which the modeller will have to supply. The resin engine is also very detailed and mounts on to a plastic bulkhead which will not be visible once it is enclosed by the fuselage.

The only resin in the undercarriage are the wheels and they are as highly detailed as the rest of the resin.



There is a four piece frame that goes inside the wheel cavity in the fuselage but the instructions are a little vague on exactly how this all fits together. The instructions will have to be studied very carefully before glue is applied.

The decals by Aviprint, are as usual very well printed and have markings for three US aircraft around the time of the Midway Battle including that of Capt. William C. Humberd who managed to get one of the Zeros attacking Midway Island in 1942. All three aircraft are in the Blue Grey/Light Grey scheme.

And now to the Dutch/Australian 339 23 also known some times as the 439 Buffalo. These aircraft, based on the F2A-3, were the last built for the Dutch East Indies Air Force but were landed in Australia because the Dutch East Indies had already fallen.

Although based on the F2A-3, they had some significant differences such as the British 339E tail cone, larger tail wheel, spinner on the prop, uncuffed prop blades and a wind screen without the telescopic gun sight. Some, though not all, had the ventral window which was deleted for the F2A-3. All of these parts are supplied in the kit although marked as Not for use. I'm not sure if those aircraft built for European governments used the same seat as their US counterparts as I've not been able to find any photos but I believe all the 339s and the F2A-3 had back and head armour behind the seat and this is not supplied in the kit.

Since buying and building one of the Hasegawa kits some years ago, I wanted to do an Australian 339 23 but no donor kits were available and that meant a lot of scratch building. With the release of this kit I can have my wish and obviously F2A-2 and 1 will follow which means other Export Buffalos can be built.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to MPM/Special Hobby for the review sample.

Review Text Copyright 2006 by Glen Porter
Images Copyright 2006 by Brett Green
Page Created 21 June, 2006
Last updated 21 June, 2006

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