|Model by Wilfried Eck|
Contrary to many models the Tamiya kit cannot be used for an F2A-3 fighting at Midway. Tamiya clearly states their kit resembles a F2A-2 (the previous version). The F2A-2 had the shorter fuselage whereas the F2A-3 showed a fuselage extension of 10 inches forward of the wing leading edges (also different airscrew and cockpit details).
As I didn't want to add another Buffalo to thousands showing white and red stripes on the rudder, and as I wasn't very enthusiastic about British or Netherlands markings (sorry for that) there was just one alternative left: An advanced trainer (used after Midway, mostly in Florida), markings based on photos in Squadron/Signal No. 81.
The fuselage extension is made faily easily: Cut/saw off motor cowl, file/sand cowl inside to form a sharp rear edge. Insert a strip of thin plastic in the hollow front of the fuselage, protuding 5,3 mm. After this has dried fill up outer sides with plastic strips till flush with the fuselage. Maybe some putty is needed to get an even surface. Allow to dry thoroughly, then file/sand front edge to fit into cowling. Concerning the exhausts small tubes are better than the kit parts, so drill holes in appropriate places. Fasten cowling.
Tamiya furnishes two kinds of Cockpit hoods (with oder without exterior gunsight). Sadly enough in one part, and if the sliding part is cut off - the plastic though rather thin is very brittle - it will not fit over the rear part. I made both parts (windshield and sliding hood) from PVC (see page C) the windshield resting (fixed with epoxy glue) in a narrow groove.
Paint/Ageing: Generally as usual for F2A-3 (Blue Gray over Light Gray) with markings on the wing tips and the left aileron, a little bit darker than white. Sqn/Signal states light gray, but to me this seems very unlikely. Why light gray? F2A-3 (dash three!) never had prewar light gray paint, so a left over earlier paint is out of question. On the other side yellow paint was an usual colour for trainers ("Yellow Peril" and so on). To make them easier to detect. Therefore I decided Yellow to be the color for these markings. Why just one aileron was marked this way I don't know. Photos show these F2A-3 just this way.
Generally these F2A-3's showed some wear and bleached paint (though no bare metal) and quite a lot of oil stains behind the cowling. To get these various degrees of darker and lighter areas/streaks right it needs a different treatment of painting. The common "highlighting" each panel with black paint in my opinion may make the model look "interesting", but certainly not realistic (ever seen this on the real thing?). The Buffalo had overlapping sheet metal panels. What is needed are different shades of the same colour. This can be done with an airbrush but it's easier to use "preshading a different way" (which can't be overdone):
Apply a very thin coat of paint. Let dry thorougly. Then several different shades of same paint, very much lighter resp. darker and very thin are applies with a brush (see photo in German part). Let dry. Then go over this area with another layer of thinned (original) colour. If done right, the underlying colours should show through a little bit. If the last coat wasn't thin enough you get an immaculate finish. - For oil stains I naturally used glossy colors.
Antenna: Thread of stocking.
Pilot figure is a Monogram figurine, extensively altered and modified.
General thoughts and tips for modeling see "Modeling ABC"