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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby SH72128
Model 339-23 Buffalo -- 1:72 Scale



The Brewster F2A Buffalo was one of the first U.S. Navy carrier-based monoplanes and a competitor to the first design incarnation of the Grumman F4F Wildcat.  By the time the war began, jug-shaped the Buffalo was outperformed by the Japanese Zero, particularly well illustrated at the Battle of Midway.  It was also exported to Finland, Belgium, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Australia.  In this review, we take a look at this reissue of the Special Hobby 1:72 scale kit of the Model 339-23 Buffalo from 2005 which includes a small cache of resin parts along with the Sword plastic parts.

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In 1935, the U.S. Navy saw the future beyond biplanes and issued a request for proposal for a new for a carrier-based monoplane fighter to replace the Grumman F3F.  The Brewster XF2A-1 won the contract and first flew in 1938.  While it was a stubby-looking airplane, it featured many innovative and otherwise modern features, such as an all-metal airframe, flaps, and hydraulically actuated main landing gear.  Yet, it still retained fabric-covered control surfaces, lacked both armor for the pilot and self-sealing fuel tanks, and carried little internal fuel that starkly limited its range.  It was powered by a single-row Wright R-1820-22 Cyclone radial engine that conferred an impressive initial climb rate and top speed of over 300 miles per hour.  It was armed with pair of nose-mounted machine guns – one .50 Cal. M2 Browning machine gun and one .30 Cal. AN Browning machine gun.  

Some 509 Buffalos were constructed by Brewster on Long Island, New York.  Three variants were produced for the U.S. Navy: the F2A-1, F2A-2 and F2A-3, and the corresponding export versions were the B-239, B-339, and B-339-23, respectively.  While Finland may have been the most famous of the Buffalo operators, The Netherlands acquired 20 of the 339-23s that featured the Wright GR-1820-G205A powerplant.  In the wake of the fall of Dutch East Indies in March 1942, 17 of their remaining Buffalos avoided capture and were transferred to the U.S. Fifth Air Force in Australia.  All of these aircraft were loaned to the Royal Australian Air Force and used to fill in gaps in homeland air defense and pilot training roles in Australia.  In 1944, all remaining RAAF Buffalos were transferred back to the USAAF and retired not long after.

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Special Hobby’s 1:72 scale Buffalo 339-23 is based on the tooling and molds by Sword.  It is a pretty simple kit, coming in at 47 injection molded parts on one sprue, 10 clear parts on one clear sprue (not all are used), and 15 cast resin parts.  The full-color instructions guide the build over eight steps. Markings are provided for four Buffalos:    

Strengths:  This is a pretty simple kit, and its assembly should be relatively straightforward (but see below).  The shape and size of the airframe looks accurate, and the surface details (panel lines and a few rivets here and there) are finely recessed details.  The clear parts are perhaps just slightly thick for 1:72 scale, but otherwise, look quite nice and the framing is well defined.  However, the real highlight of this kit involves the resin parts and the decals.   

The 15 resin parts include the entire complete cockpit (instrument panel, sidewalls, pilot’s seat, and other details).  These parts are awesome and beautifully cast with lots of great detail, especially for 1:72 scale.  The engine and prop boss are also beautiful cast.  I also really like the AviPrint decals.  I think the natural metal scheme (the personal airplane of the base commanding officer at Essendon) is really great and my favorite of them all.  It is quite distinctive and the one that I will build when this kit reaches my bench.

Weaknesses:  As a limited run injection molded kit (again, this is the Sword tooling), there are no locating pins or tabs for the fuselage halves, wings, horizontal stabilizers, and the like.  Some extra care will be needed in attaching parts.  Also, a good fine sanding of the exterior airframe parts might be wise to clean up any imperfections and allow extra time to clean up your parts, owing to the large pour gates connecting parts to the sprue.  While the resin pilot’s seat is great, the kit contains no belts for the seat.  The blues in the U.S. national insignia are maybe just a little too light, but you’ll have to take a hard look at them for yourself.  If they are too light, it’s not too bad.     

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Special Hobby’s Model 399-23 Buffalo is a neat little kit. However, it’s not for beginners, and a little past experience with both limited run injection molded kits and resin detail parts will go a long way in finding success with this kit. The resin parts especially elevate the potential of the Special Hobby Buffalo. It should build into a great little replica of the Buffalo serving in Australia during WWII.   
 
Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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