144th.co.uk 1/144 Blackburn Buccaneer S.Mk.2s
By Matt Bittner
"The Blackburn Buccaneer is a British carrier-capable attack aircraft designed in the 1950s for the Royal Navy (RN). Designed and initially produced by Blackburn Aircraft at Brough, it was later officially known as the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer when Blackburn became a part of the Hawker Siddeley Group, but this name is rarely used.
"The Buccaneer was originally designed in response to the Soviet Union's Sverdlov-class cruiser construction programme. Instead of building a new fleet of its own, the Royal Navy could use the Buccaneer to attack these ships by approaching at low altitudes below the ship's radar horizon. The Buccaneer could attack using a nuclear bomb, or conventional weapons. It was later intended to carry short-range anti-shipping missiles to improve its survivability against more modern ship-based anti-aircraft weapons.
"The Buccaneer entered Royal Navy service in 1962. The initial production aircraft suffered a series of accidents due to insufficient engine power, which was quickly addressed in the Buccaneer S.2, equipped with more powerful Rolls-Royce Spey jet engines. The Buccaneer was also offered as an entrant into a new Royal Air Force (RAF) contest for a new attack aircraft. It was initially rejected in favour of the much more advanced supersonic BAC TSR-2, but the cost of the TSR-2 programme led to its cancellation, only to be followed by the cancellation of its selected replacement, the General Dynamics F-111K. The Buccaneer was finally purchased by the RAF, entering service in 1969.
"The Royal Navy retired the last of its large aircraft carriers in 1978, moving their strike role to the British Aerospace Sea Harrier, and passing their Buccaneers to the RAF. After a crash in 1980 revealed metal fatigue problems, the RAF fleet was reduced to 60 aircraft, while the rest were scrapped. The ending of the Cold War led to a reduction in strength of the RAF, and the accelerated retirement of the remaining fleet, with the last Buccaneers in RAF service being retired in 1994 in favour of the Panavia Tornado. The South African Air Force (SAAF) also procured the type. Buccaneers saw combat action in the first Gulf War of 1991, and the South African Border War."
144th.co.uk has released two 1/144 kits of the Blackburn Buccaneer S.Mk.2: one with the "bulged" belly and one with the "flat" belly. The only differences between the two kits are which "belly" you receive along with decals for aircraft of that type. There are four RAF options for the "bulged" belly:
- Buccaneer S.2A XX889 - 16 Squadron, RAF Laarbruch 1975
- Buccaneer S.2A XX889 - 16 Squadron, RAF Laarbruch 1976
- Buccaneer S.2A XX889 - 12 Squadron, RAF Honington 1979
- Buccaneer S.2A XX901 - 208 Squadron, RAF Honington 1983
There are three options for the "flat" belly:
- Buccaneer S.2A XN977 - 801 NAS, HMS Victorious 1965
- Buccaneer S.2A XV358 - 800 NAS, HMS Eagle 1971
- Buccaneer S.2A XT287 - 237 Operational Conversion Unit, RAF Honington 1971
Decals are nicely done and appear to be in register, and includes a full complement of stencils. In fact, they also sell the decal sheet - as a whole, with all seven aircraft - separately. Worth picking up if you want extra decals.
This is one aircraft kit where construction does not start with the cockpit. The first step in the instructions have you add the belly, based on which kit you picked up. After that, nose weight is added into the bottom fuselage half before joining both halves together. Next you add the nose cone, followed by the central underside fuel tanks along with the intakes and the vertical tail.
Prior to the next instruction step you need to make a decision: to open or close the rear air brake, and to have the wings folded or not. You then glue those parts on dependent on that choice, along with the horizontal tail.
The next step has you add the ejection seats into the cockpit, glue the canopy down and add the exhausts, whatever antennas you need for the aircraft you're building along with the port wing pitot.
The final instruction step has you add everything to the underside of the model (most best left off until after painting and decaling): nose and main undercarriage, landing gear doors and tail skid.
144th.co.uk has released excellent renditions of the Blackburn Buccaneer S.Mk.2 in 1/144. While they're unfortunately out of stock on the manufacturer's site, when they become available again do yourself a favor and buy these kits. They're extremely well molded and shouldn't take too long to assemble. Afterwards you'll have an excellent scale model of the Bucc on your shelf.