1/144 F-Toys Brewster Buffalo F2A-1

Gallery Article by S K Loh on Sept 20 2013



The Brewster Buffalo F2A was produced by Brewster Aeronautical Corporation to meet the US Navy requirement for a new fighter plane. It became the first monoplane fighter used by the US Navy in 1939 but saw limited service during WWII due to its inherent design plus the specific requirements of the US Navy such as the additional weight of 2 x 0.50in Browning machine guns, one on each side of the wing that lead to its poor performance. 

The Buffalo was built in three variants for the US Navy, the F2A-1, the F2A-2 and F2A-3. An export variant with lower horsepower engines were designated B-239, B-339 and B-339-23 respectively. The F2A-3 variant saw action with the USMC squadrons at the Battle of Midway. They were no match for the Japanese Zero and was derided by USMC pilots as a “flying coffin”. In fact, the F2A-3 was significantly inferior to the F2A-2 variant used by the Navy before the outbreak of WWII. 

The export variant B-339s suffered the same outcome operating under British Commonwealth (B-339Es) and Dutch air forces (B339Ds) in South East Asia in 1941 when both suffered heavy losses while facing the “Zeros” of the Japanese Navy and the Army’ Ki-43 “Oscar”. The British attempted to lighten their Buffalos by removing ammunition and installing lighter guns while the Dutch halved its fuel load and ammunition load on the wings. These desperate attempts to improve the Buffalo’s performance made little difference. 

The only notable performance was in the B-239s operated by the Finnish air force against the Soviet air force during the invasion of Finland. 

About the Kit
The Kit is a F-Toy Wing Kit Collection Series No. 9, one of the many Japanese model “Gashapon” manufacturers that cater to little Japanese trading kits that come in boxes that don't really tell you what they contain. I had hoped for a Hurricane but instead I got what comes as a “Secret Item” – a Brewster Buffalo F2A-1 deployed on board USS Saratoga CV-3 Squadron VF-3 in 1939 bearing the “Felix the Cat” emblem. The model is pre-painted, with partial pad-printed markings on the wings and with additional decals to complete the finish. Assembly is straight forward with snap-fit lugs but I glued them in any case. It comes with a cute little display stand. 

Overall fit and shapes are good with very little filling and sanding needed to make the model look great. Color scheme is accurate and the pre-painted colors themselves are usually well-researched and accurate. Panel lines are sharp and clear too. 


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The kit come with choice of gears-up or gears-down option. I prefer the build with gears-up and some enhancements/corrections were made as follows:-

  • a. A scratch-built pilot was added with harness

  • b. The seat and console panel provided had to be re-positioned to seat the pilot correctly

  • c. Added a telescopic gun-sight as in the Navy F2A-1 

  • d. Added the rollover bar and the life raft tube 

  • e. Drill out the landing light marking and added a clear plastic to it

  • f. Round off the tail cone as the original pointed tail cone is more for the export variant

  • g. Drill out the gun ports on the wing to depict the 0.50in Browning machine gun o each side

  • h. Replace the original aerial mast with a metal one in order to rig up the aerial cable to lend more realism

No further painting is needed save for some touch-up due to the filling and sanding down to make the model look whole-piece. Decals were easy to apply and with a little MicroSol they eased into place and conform well to show the panel lines.

To finish off, alight weathering was done as the F2A-1 saw very little action afterall with the US Navy. A quick coat of satin finish was airbrushed to level off the shine of the roundels and markings. Although it was almost a OOB built I must admit it gave me quite a satisfaction building it. Oh yes, I had to modify the display stand as the stubby fuselage of the F2A-1 slides off the guide rails too easily.

Enjoy the photos!!

S K Loh

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Photos and text © by S K Loh