Tamiya F2A Buffalo

I’ve always had a weakness for those early war Allied tanks and airplanes which were obsolete that heroic soldiers and airmen used to hold the line while the US industrial machine ramped up to turn out superior weapons.  The F2 Buffalo is one of these quintessential obsolete front line weapon systems.  I chose to model this kit as a USMC aircraft stationed at NAS Ewa, Hawaii in late 1941.

The Kit
The Tamiya 1/48 scale F2A kit is very dated  but still builds into a nice model with some basic modeling skills.  A few aftermarket parts don’t hurt either.  I used the Eduard PE set for this build.  One advantage of the kit being so old is that it is very affordable.  This leaves money to spend on any fiddly bits you might want to add.
The fit on this kit isn't as good as that on many other Tamiya kits.  That being said, it's still not bad and definitely within the skill limits of even beginner modelers.
 The Buffalo had a commodious cockpit which displays very well with the canopy hood slid back.  Because of this I made sure to use the Eduard PE bits for the instrument panel, seat and cockpit controls.  The cockpit is the focal point of any aircraft build so the time and money spent here pays off.

The biggest problem with the Tamiya kit is that the canopy only comes in one piece with the windscreen and rear canopy.  Luckily the kit allows for two variations (a European export version and a US Navy version) which gives the modeler an extra set of clear parts to work with.  I used the extra canopy to cut out the canopy hood.  It leaves the model slightly inaccurate since the European Buffaloes and the US Navy F2s had different glazing but all in all the variations are slight.  The only remaining problem is that the clear parts are very, very, very, very, VERY thick.  
 In scale the canopy would be about five to six inches thick.  The bullet resistant glass on my uparmored Humvee in Iraq wasn’t even that thick.  The only way to fix this was to gingerly thin the edges of the windscreen and canopy hood.  It’s not a perfect fix but it was the best I could come up with.  I flirted with the idea of using vacuform clear parts from Squadron but didn’t go that route since I have had bad luck with those products before.
 Painting was pretty straight forward.  I used Tamiya acrylics, my favorite medium.   I used XF-48 Medium Sky Blue on the upper surfaces (post shaded with diluted XF-2 White) and XF-19 Sky Grey (post shaded with XF-2 Flat White) on the ventral surfaces.
 I used custom made masks for all the markings, including the squadron codes on the fuselage.  No decals were used.
 I added a few chips with a Prismacolor pencil and then gave the whole aircraft a wash with black artist oils.

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