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Brewster Buffalo

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The Brewster F2A Buffalo was an American fighter aircraft which saw service early in World War II. Designed and built by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation

it was one of the first U.S. monoplanes with an arrestor hook and other modifications for aircraft carriers. The Buffalo won a competition against the Grumman F4F Wildcat in 1939 to become the U.S. Navy's first monoplane fighter aircraft. Although superior to the Grumman F3F biplane it replaced and the early F4Fs, the Buffalo was largely obsolete when the United States entered World War 2 being unstable and overweight, especially when compared to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

For as long as I can remember I've had this love/hate relationship with the Brewster Buffalo. Having a deep interest in WW11 aircraft, & specifically the Pacific theater of Operations, the Naval air battle at Midway on June 4, 1942 has always been a historical focal point for me.

On December 25,1941, 14 F2A-3 Buffalos of VMF-221 arrived via the USS.Saratoga CV-3, at Midway Island. On March 28,1942, 8 additional F2A-3 Buffalos arrived via the USS.Curtiss AV-3, and finally 7 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats arrived by the USS. Kitty Hawk APV-1 on May 26, 1942. This was then the entire defensive air combat force available for the Battle of Midway.

After the air battle these were the losses that VMF-221 suffered:
  • Aircraft: 12 F2A-3, 2 F4F-3
  • Pilots: 13 MIA, 1 KIA, 4 WIA 4
And this was what was left in flyable condition on June 7th,1942:
  • 3-F2A-3
  • 3 F4F-3
VMF-221 claimed 16 kills of various aircraft. All the remaining F2A Buffalos in active service were replaced shortly after Midway, and became advanced trainers for the Navy.

History adapted from Wikipedia.
The Model
The F2A-3 model I decided on building was the 1/32 scale limited edition, multi media kit from Czech. I've never built a 1/32 scale aircraft kit before, nor a limited run kit, so it was definately going to be a rather interesting build, one totally out of my long time comfort zone.

Keeping within the scope of my build theme, the kit came with Cartograf decals for the aircraft flown by Capt. William C. Humberd USMC F2A-3 Buffalo on June 4,1942: VMF-221 3rd Div.Aircraft# MF-15, Sn# 1553.

As I progressed through the build, I was quite surprised at the level of detail, but other times I was rather disappointed in how the kit went together. The wings are just simple butt joints that you really need to make sure are smooth, yet the Horizontal Stabilizers had tabs and slots. Go figure! I also had major issues with main wing warpage. Fortunatley, a ton of Tamiya Extra Thin and plenty of tape pulled them basically into proper shape.

The landing gear is quite complex, well designed, but poorly executed, as once again a butt joint coupled with a rather iffy not to sure where to glue the control pistons, made for a lot of google searches. Eventually, I installed steel pins and drilled holes into the frame for a very secure fit. So far the gear hasn't fallen off.
The model was painted with Tamiya Gray Primer Sealer, then Tamiya Acrylic paints. I tried very hard to create the effect of salt water, heat, and the Humid conditions on the top surfaces with various lighter and darker shades applied in a random mottling pattern. Followed by various washes to create the impression of heavy operational use.
The kit decals are by Cartograf, but I found them rather stiff and hard to work with even using the Micro system and Solvaset.
Final Thoughts
Overall, I'm really happy with the completed model. I have a one of model of a very important aircraft from one of the major Naval air battles of WW11.

As my usual custom, I ran a full WIP thread in the WW11 Forum. For those that haven't seen it, and would like to read it, simply follow this convenient link.
Special Thanks
I'd like to take a moment and personally thank Jim Maas who wrote the Squadron Signal book F2A BUFFALO In Action. Jim has throughout the whole build offered both online and in PM suggestions, answered numerous questions, and furnished many pictures not contained in his book. Jim is a well recognized expert on the Buffalo. Thank you Jim, for all your support.
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About the Author

About Joel Willstein (Joel_W)

I've been a plastic scale modeler on and off for most of my life since I 1st found them on a shelf at a local toy store way back in the very early 1960s. Once in High School modeling stopped until the mid 1970s when I got married, and needed a hobby that would keep me at home. After 10 years I to...


Joel, beautiful work. I love the faded finish and the weathering on the cowling. Best wishes, Ian
JUL 31, 2015 - 09:46 PM
Nice one Joel Great to see this superb build on the Frontpage. All the best Rowan
AUG 01, 2015 - 12:07 AM
Bravo Joel!
AUG 01, 2015 - 05:19 AM
Good looking Buffalo Joel, nicely done. A nice paint job with just the right weathering, not overly done. I love the wire antenna, nicely done along with the engine.
AUG 01, 2015 - 06:07 AM
Thanks guys for all those accolades, as they're all much appreciated. And of course a special thanks to Jessica for her usual outstanding job of editing my feature article. Joel
AUG 01, 2015 - 08:08 PM
Outstanding work Joel, definitely worthy of extra recognition!
AUG 02, 2015 - 02:05 AM
Mike, Thanks so much for your most kind words. Joel
AUG 02, 2015 - 06:39 AM
Very nice work, Joel. You nailed the maritime tropical effects and weathering on your Buffalo to great effect.
AUG 02, 2015 - 07:25 PM
It is a very beautiful build all though the constraction is very difficult.Congratulations Joel!Christos
SEP 10, 2016 - 10:49 PM
Christos, Thanks for stopping by and checking out my Buffalo build. it's much appreciated. Joel
SEP 11, 2016 - 07:04 AM