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Model 239 Buffalo
"Taivaan Helmi over Finland"

Special Hobby, 1/48

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland"
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 85 parts in grey styrene (17 marked not for use), 13 parts in clear (six marked not for use), 4 parts in grey colored resin, 36 etched metal piece and printed film for the instrument panel. Instructions and decal sheet for three options.
Price:

GBP£23.70 EU Price (GBP£19.75 Export Price) plus shipping available online from Hannants

585 K? plus shipping available online from Special Hobby

Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Conforms to published plans; fine panel lines, extensive detail; busy wheel wells and clever engine mounting; high quality markings
Disadvantages:  
Recommendation: Even after more than a decade, this is still the pick of the Buffalo kits in 1/48 scale. Accurate, well detailed and looks great when built.

Reviewed by Brett Green


  Special Hobby's 1/48 scale Model 339-23 Buffalo will be available online from Squadron 

Introduction

 

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was an American fighter aircraft that 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 1941–1944, 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.


 

Buffalo Over Finland

In contrast to the record of US and Commonwealth pilots, many Finnish pilots racked up enormous scores by using basic tactics against Soviet aircraft. The default tactic was the four-plane "parvi" (swarm), with a pair flying lower as bait, and a higher pair to dive on enemy interceptors. The Soviet Air Force was never able to counteract this tactic.

 

 

The top-scoring B-239 pilot was Hans Wind, with 39 kills. Lt Hans Wind, with six other Buffalos of LeLv 24, intercepted some 60 Soviet aircraft near Kronstad. Two Soviet Pe-2 bombers, one Soviet Hawker Hurricane fighter, and 12 I-16s were claimed for the loss of just one B-239 (BW-378).

 

 

After evaluation of claims against actual Soviet losses, aircraft BW-364 was found to have been used to achieve 42½ kills in total by all pilots operating it, possibly making it the highest-scoring fighter airframe in the history of air warfare.

 

 

The top scoring Finnish ace, Ilmari Juutilainen, scored 34 of his 94½ kills in B-239s, including 28 in BW-364.*

* Historical text adapted from Wikipedia

 

 

FirstLook

 

Special Hobby released a family of 1/48 scale Buffalo kits from 2005 onwards. These were limited run kits that featured high quality surface details, flash-free mouldings with fine sprue attachment points, crystal clear injection moulded canopy parts, framing inside the forward fuselage, guns in the gun bay, fuel tank and an intricate and accurate system of engine support framing.

This new boxing of the Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" shares all of these attributes. The kit comprises 85 parts in grey styrene (17 marked not for use), 13 parts in clear (six marked not for use), 4 parts in grey colored resin, 36 etched metal piece and printed film for the instrument panel. Instructions and decal sheet for three options.

 

  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Special Hobby Kit No. SH48180 - Model 239 Buffalo "Taivaan Helmi over Finland" Review by Brett Green: Image
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Moulding is quite clean more than ten years after the original release, although there is a very slightly rough texture to some of the main parts that will be quickly eliminated after a rub down with a fine sanding stick.

Detail is superior to the old Tamiya Buffalos in almost every respect. The wheel wells feature resin structural parts. The engine also benefits from resin detail. The resin parts are perfectly cast and crisply detailed.

 

 

The cockpit includes photo-etched parts for the instrument panel (as well as acetate printed dials) and the lap belts plus other small detail parts.

 

 

The engine is simply broken down but nicely detailed, with a celverly moulded one-pice mount.

 

 

Clear parts are thin and free from distortion. The canopy is supplied in separate parts so the centre section may be posed open if desired.

 

 

Parts breakdown is conventional although being a limited run kit, you won't find any locating pins or tabs. Take your time, plan thoroughly, test-fit regularly and you will be fine.



Markings:

Markings are provided for three Finnish Buffaloes, one in a winter scheme.

 

 

Decals are well printed, thin and in perfect register.

 

Conclusion

 

Special Hobby's Brewster Buffalo family are fine, well detailed, well moulded kits that should not present any real challenges to modellers even with only a moderate amount of experience.

If you like Buffalos, there is nothing stopping you from building one now!

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to MPM / Special Hobby for the review sample.


MPM kits are available worldwide through hobby retailers worldwide and at Squadron.com


Review and Images Copyright 2017 by Brett Greeb
Page Created 7 November, 2017
Last updated 7 November, 2017

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