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Classic Airframes 1/48 BF2C Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Curtiss BF2C Scale 1/48
Kit Number 432 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, White Metal
Pros Nice detailing, especially with the resin castings Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


Curtiss had developed a strong reputation within the US military as well as with the allied nations for building robust aircraft. Building carrier-capable aircraft was a niche that Curtiss had mastered.

The BF2C was an outgrowth of the earlier fixed-gear BFC produced for the USN, incorporating the manually operated retractable landing gear found on the Grumman FF. Despite its advanced features, including the solid Wright Cyclone R-1820 engine of 700 hp, the BF2C was plagued with technical problems that led it to be withdrawn from service less than a year after its introduction.

Classic Airframes continues to fill significant voids in aircraft lineage in 1/48 scale. This release was one of Classic Airframes' earlier releases that also included the Hawk III (reviewed here).

This kit is molded in light gray styrene with resin details (including the engine) and white metal parts. Two vacuformed canopies are also included in each kit, one to use and a spare in case of accident.

As with any limited production kit, the plastic will require a little fitting and trimming to get a smooth fit, but the work will be minimal. There are no ejector pin marks on any visible parts of the kit, and there is very little flash. All of the details are finely scribed, while the wings and tail surfaces are nicely molded to represent fabric over rib structures.

The resin parts are beautifully molded including the cylinders, exhaust manifolds, and core structure for the Cyclone engine, detailed wheel wells, and cockpit interior. The casting is intricate and free of flash, bubbles and other annoyances.

The white metal parts comprise the retractable landing gear struts and mechanism as well as the fixed tailwheel. The casting work on these parts is equally as nice as the resin.

Another nice touch in this kit is the inclusion of a color profile for painting and placement of decals. This solves the ambiguities that even the aftermarket decal makers sometimes confront us with, trying to represent colors and markings in shades of grey, then copying these instructions for production. The results are sometimes frustrating!

The BF2C has markings for two machines from VB-5B aboard the USS Ranger. This was the only unit to operate the BF2C before its withdrawal from service. With a little homework (or referring to the guide we produced for marking early USN fighters in the F3F-1 article a few months ago), you can represent any of the VB-5B aircraft.

This kit will look great next to the other between-the-wars biplanes that Classic Airframes has produced as well as with the F3Fs currently available from Accurate Miniatures. If you are a 1/48 scale post-WWI biplane builder, this is a great addition for you! If not, you might want to give one of these kits a try for a change of pace – you might become a convert!

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!