Mark 1/JACH 1/144 Brewster F2A/B-339B/D
KIT #: MKM 14445
PRICE: $24.99 SRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two complete kits

HISTORY

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 the war, being unstable and overweight, especially when compared to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

Several nations, including Finland, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, ordered the Buffalo. The Finns were the most successful with their Buffalos, flying them in combat against early Soviet fighters with excellent results. During the Continuation War of 19411944, the B-239s (a de-navalized F2A-1) operated by the Finnish Air Force proved capable of engaging and destroying most types of Soviet fighter aircraft operating against Finland at that time and achieving in the first phase of that conflict 32 Soviet aircraft shot down for every B-239 lost, and producing 36 Buffalo "aces".

In December 1941, Buffalos operated by both British Commonwealth (B-339E) and Dutch (B-339D) air forces in South East Asia suffered severe losses in combat against the Japanese Navy's Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Japanese Army's Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar". The British attempted to lighten their Buffalos by removing ammunition and fuel and installing lighter guns to improve performance, but it made little difference. After the first few engagements, the Dutch halved the fuel and ammunition load in the wing, which allowed their Buffalos (and their Hurricanes) to stay with the Oscars in turns.

The Buffalo was built in three variants for the U.S. Navy: the F2A-1, F2A-2 and F2A-3. (In foreign service, with lower horsepower engines, these types were designated B-239, B-339, and B-339-23 respectively.) The F2A-3 variant saw action with United States Marine Corps (USMC) squadrons at the Battle of Midway. Shown by the experience of Midway to be no match for the Zero, the F2A-3 was derided by USMC pilots as a "flying coffin." However, the F2A-3s performance was substantially inferior to the F2A-2 variant used by the Navy before the outbreak of the war despite detail improvements.

THE KIT

Your reviewer has a penchant for 1/144 military planes. This is a section of the hobby that had very little in the way of kits, even though some Japanese manufacturers had a go at it in the 1970s. A decade or so ago, this seemed to have changed and we are now blessed with a plethora of really nicely done kits. Probably the best are those by Sweet, but others are not that far behind.

Mark 1 is a company that started doing 1/144 resin and had now moved into injected plastic. I'm not sure where JACH fits into this, but perhaps they supply the injection molding process. As with a number of WWII fighter kits, there are two of them in this box along with injected plastic clear bits and a nice decal sheet.

You'd expect a rather minimalist cockpit and such is the case, With but a seat attached to a mini-floor and bulkhead along with an instrument panel. There is also a piece that forms the lower part of the aft gear well. The wing is a single molding and the fin is molded to one fuselage half.

Tail planes are a single piece that slot into the rear fuselage. What you do get are two different tail caps; one for the Navy options and one for the others. The engine is molded into the piece with the cowl flaps and the forward cowling is a single piece. Two cowlings are provided, the other for the -1 version. There are no exhaust stacks. Similarly, under the single piece canopy assembly, there is no roll bar nor the required life raft for the Navy planes. You do get two different tail wheels as the Navy ones are quite small. Two different props are provided though only one is used in this boxing and there is a spinner. Landing gear look to be strong enough to hold the weight of the model and the main wheels are separate. The kit provided the lower glass windows for all versions, I'm not sure these were part of the export orders or not, but should be easy enough to cover over or replace with plastic card if that is the case.

Instructions are just three steps which is more than adequate. Generic color information is provided during the building. Four markings options are given. Two are USN with a 'yellow wings' version  of VF-2 and an advanced trainer in early war camo. The Belgian prototype with a US civil registration is the third and the last is a Dutch plane that was taken over by the USAAF for use in Australia during late 1942. A set of replacement roundels for the Belgian plane are provided as the main set are out of round. The sheet provides wing walk areas. There are only enough early war US insignia to do either the USN trainer or the USAAF plane unless you have access to additional insignia.

CONCLUSIONS

Aside from painting all those frames, this looks like it would be a fairly simple build. It is missing things that will need to be scratchbuilt such as the roll bar, life raft, and exhaust, but nothing beyond the skills of most and items that probably would not be missed by the casual observer. Worth picking up if you like the subject or scale.

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewster_F2A_Buffalo

October 2017

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