Hasegawa 1/32 Curtiss BF2C-1 Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||February 2017||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Kit Number||JS064||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, great details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||OOP|
The BF2C-1 was initially designated as XF11C-3 which was a development of the F11C-2 that introduced retractable landing gear to the Curtiss fighters. In flight test, the XF11C-3 was faster but the additional weight of the retractable landing gear had a negative affect on maneuverability. In addition, Curtiss replaced the wooden wing structures in the lower wing with metal and the resulting design was ordered as the BF2C-1. Like many fighter designs that become obsolete as fighters, the BF2C was designated as a Bomber-Fighter (fighter-bomber in modern terminology). Twenty-seven examples were ordered by the Navy and assigned to VB-5. These aircraft only remained in service for a few months due to problems with the landing gear.
While Hasegawa has been in existence since 1941, it didn't enter the plastic model market until the early 1960s and had found success with their box scale kits of the day. By the early 1970s, Hasegawa had settled into what we consider 'standard scales' for their kits and by that time had produced an impressive catalog of kits. Pushing into 1/32 scale, Hasegawa released kit number 61 in 1971, the Curtiss BF2C-1 which was one of a quartet of kits which featured between-the-wars US military aircraft consisting of the P-12E, F4B-4, BF2C-1, and P-26A Peashooter. Many of us have owned these kits or have them stashed away in our collections.
When these kits were first released, Hasegawa was being imported into the US market by another familiar name - Minicraft. When you first saw the labels, you might have thought they were the same company - Hasegawa-Minicraft. Eventually, they were de-hyphenated as Hasegawa moved to another importer and Minicraft would go on to bring Academy kits into the US market before they too were de-hyphenated.
Where the other kits in this series consist of two parts trees plus clear parts, this kit is a bit more complex consisting of three parts trees plus clear parts. The surface detailing is raised which is just perfect, because the surface detailing on the full-scale aircraft was raised as well.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Nicely detailed Wright Cyclone engine
- Nice cockpit (needs seat belts/shoulder harness, sidewall updates)
- Good rigging instructions and flashed-over rigging holes
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable landing gear
- Optional centerline fuel tank
- Optional bomb racks under the wings with four bombs included
The decal instructions highlight the squadron commander's aircraft:
- BF2C-1, 5-B-1, VB-5, USS Ranger, 1934
The decal sheet provides markings to replicate almost any aircraft from VB-5 (missing 7-9 digits on the sheet).
Kits out of this series have been reissued a few times over the decades and it is nice to see it on the shelf even for a short time.
While the MSRP on the new 'reissues' has migrated well north of $50 USD, I found this one for less than half of that and I'm sure you can do better at kit swaps and contest vendor rooms if you shop around.
While this kit may be over 40 years old, the details hold up well to contemporary standards and will a little work, will build into a beautiful model. While we sometimes get lost in the world of low-visibility camouflage or WW2 camouflage, we sometimes forget about the colorful aircraft flown by the US Army and US Navy between the wars. Step back into yesteryear...