KIT: Special Hobby 1/72 Model 339B/E Buffalo
KIT #: 72131
PRICE: $21.20 at GreatModels
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run kit with resin parts.


In one regard, the Brewster F2A is considered one of those planes that were horribly obsolete when needed and little more than cannon fodder for the enemy. In the other hand, they were considered to be a rugged aircraft capable of going with the best of them and returning the pilot to fight again.

Hard to believe it, but both these descriptions are accurate. The difference is the quality of the man in the cockpit. For the US and the Commonwealth forces that faced the Japanese, they were overwhelmed by not only a superior aircraft, but by pilots that were all battle hardened veterans of earlier campaigns. With the Finns, it was just the other way around as their training was such that whenever they came against Russian pilots, even when the Russians were in equivalent aircraft, it was often the Brewster that came out on top.

Both were pretty much out of front line use by mid 1942, though the Finns still used theirs right up until the end of the war in areas that were not protected by the Messerschmitt 109 units.

The Model 339B and 339E were export versions and sold to the Belgians, British, and the Dutch. The 339B was for the Belgians, but the country was over-run by the Germans before the bulk of the order was delivered. These were taken up by the British who turned them over to the Royal Navy. The aircraft were briefly used in the Mediterranean and deemed unsuitable. In addition, the RAF ordered 170 of the lower powered 339Es and sent all the Model 339s to the Far East where they were used mostly by Australian and New Zealand squadrons in the defense of Burma and India. They were simply outperformed by the invading Japanese with their A6M2s, Ki-27s and Ki-43s.


 This is the fifth injected plastic kit of the Brewster Buffalo.  Revell, Airfix and Matchbox had theirs in the late 60s and 70s, while Hasegawa joined that group in the 1980s with a very nice kit. So why do this one? Probably because MPM has already done it in 1/48 and 1/32 so figured to do the trifecta and produce a 1/72 kit. The plastic and resin for this kit are identical to an earlier F2A-2 reviewed. There are a number of parts on this one that are not used for this variant. A set of cuffed prop blades, a windscreen with room for a telescopic sight, and a separate, blunter tail cone are on the sprues as is a smaller tail wheel and a blanking plate for the underside transparency.

The parts themselves are standard MPM/Special Hobby/Azur with fairly nicely done engraved panel lines, a tiny bit of flash on all the parts, that miserable separate hub and prop blades, butt joins for the wings and stabs, ejector pin towers on the larger parts and a bag of non styrene (in this case resin) for the detail bits. It is nice to see that this kit comes in a zip bag, making it easy to store the bits. I also like that the underside of the ailerons and wing tips are molded with the upper wing section. Makes for a much sharper edge for the former and less sanding for the latter. I do hope this is a trend.

Resin is used for all the really fine parts like the interior side walls, engine, wheels, seat cockpit floor, accessory section  bits and the prop hub. These parts are superbly molded with no sign of pinholes or other glitches. There is a nice sprue of clear injected plastic parts. These clear bits are rather distorted so one needs to have the separate canopy bits open to see the inside. Oh yes, you also get alternate canopy sections , one of which you won't use, though they both look the same to me.

Instructions are standard MPM, though this time they have substituted Gunze color references for the long standing Humbrol ones. Perhaps this kit was developed during Humbrol's financial troubles when there was concern that the paints wouldn't be available any more. Markings are for three aircraft, all of them in Dark Green/Dark Earth over Light Blue/Black. The cover aircraft is from 21 Sq RAAF with other markings for 488 Sq RNZAF and 453 Sq RAAF. I should mention that the underside transparency was painted over on these aircraft.


Though I'd not have thought that yet another F2A would be in the offing, its popularity amongst builders has always been high. This one will provide another for the shelves and like all Special Hobby kits is one that needs a bit of experience before tackling.

January 2007

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