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Build Report: Tamiya’s 1/48 Brewster Buffalo


I suppose at some point a build report for just about any Tamiya kit gets a bit pointless in terms of fit and engineering. It’s Tamiya. The gold standard by which all others are compared.

What really impressed me is that this Brewster Buffalo kit is about 40 years old. While its age was apparent when compared to newer Tamiya kits, at its worst, the kit compares favorably to the best I’ve seen from Hasegawa. Which is no slouch.

Makes you wonder why some other companies with many years under their belt can’t even get their newest kits up to the standard of a 1970s Tamiya kit. Not to mention any names…. *cough* Special Hobby… *cough* *cough*

The cockpit is nice, though a bit basic. The cockpit floor mounts on the wing, while some decent cockpit wall parts give it a busy enough look. The seat is a little anemic, so I swapped out an Ultracast P-40 seat for it, as it looked close enough.

Painting the cockpit XF-71 overall, various bits and pieces were picked out in silver, black, red and white. As the kit only has a closed canopy option, I was not too concerned with getting too carried away with it.

Fit of the parts into the closed up fuselage was very good. There were no gaps at all, though a few self-induced seams had to be dealt with due to an overzealous sprue snipper. The wings fit together equally well, and the wing to fuselage fit was also very good. I did use a little filler to obliterate the wing to lower fuselage seam, but there was no gap at all.

For some reason, the canopy is supplied as a single, closed option. I considered cutting it open, but decided against it. The kit did comes with “masks”, but they turned out to be Tamiya tape with the correct shapes printed out- but not cut. I figured if I had to cut out the masks, why bother- just apply Parafilm to the canopy and cut it there. It did take a while, as Brewster seemed to feel that a lot of canopy framing was a good thing. The canopy did require a little filler at the front, though that may have been due to my seam removal efforts. A thick application of Mr. Surfacer took care of that.

I chose the “lizard” scheme from the box art, as I liked the little lizard critter featured on it. The undersides were split black and sky. A somewhat lightened XF-69 was used for the black, and XF-21 for the sky. The uppers were painted XF-72, a close cousin of dark earth, and then masked off and given a coat of XF-81. I normally freehand this type of camo, but for some reason I decided to mask it. Once I completed the masking, I remembered why I preferred freehand work. 🙂

Next I applied some streaking via the dot filter method, and then sealed it all up with a coat of Future.

If Tamiya can be faulted for anything, it’s their decals. While their color and register are very good, they are some of the thickest decals I’ve ever used. (Cartograph has spoiled me…) I did press on using them, and only when I had completed the decal process did it occur to me to look in my decal collection. Of course, I promptly found the exact same scheme in a much better quality decal….. oh well.

The decals were followed up with another gloss coat, panel line wash, airbrush fading and shading, some weathering chalks, and finally paint chipping. The final dangly bits were glued on, and after a coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish was applied, it was called finished.

Overall, this is a great little kit. Apart from a closed only option for the canopy, and the thick decals, this is a stellar kit. I really enjoyed the build, and was very happy with the results.