Some considerable time ago I made a kit of the Buccaneer S.1 made by Airfix some time in the 1970s. It was, in essence, a toy aeroplane. I don’t mean any disrespect to Airfix in this, it was of its day and fit the market at the time. But for serious modelling it is still a bit off. Mind you, if you want a kit of the NA.39 prototype before the modifications that turned it into the Buccaneer, well there are precious few options.
So, wanting to do a decent S.1 Buccaneer I got hold of a resin kit. I really don’t like resin kits. This one came with a chunk of rear fuselage broken off and neither direct contact with the manufacturer or the intercession of the retailer provided a replacement. So I was stuck with the prospect of a biggish repair job.
But then, I heard that the enterprising people at Aerocraft Models make a conversion kit, allowing an S.1 to be made from the excellent Airfix Buccaneer S.2. So, I ordered it, actually I ordered two as I wanted a wing folded S.1 as well as one “ready to fly”, but kept the resin kit for some useful details…
The aircraft kit comes in two packages. One has the smaller intakes and a bit of the leading edge of the wing with an extra cooling vent. It also includes the front compressor blades of the Gyron Junior engines and two supporting pieces as we are going to hack off a chunk of fuselage.
The second contains smaller exhaust plates for the back end and smoother airbrake skins Options for open or closed airbrakes). The S.2 gained quite a few lumps and bumps and extra panels, so these bring it back to the original spec.
For the open canopy, wing-folded version, I got a cockpit detail set from Eduard. This includes all kinds of bits and pieces , but frankly some of them are just potty. I mean, am I really going to put in throttle levers at this size that I can’t see when the kit is on my shelf. Am I? Well, am I???
Anyway, I used the instrument panels and controls from the Eduard set but used the ejection seats and straps from the resin kit as they seemed much better. The office looks quite good as a result.
So, on to the actual build. The big bit is cutting out the existing inlets and leading edge and putting in the new one.
It is just a case of marking it out and hacking away with a small saw. The Aircraft web site has full instructions on all this and was very useful.
The gaping sides left are where the two support slabs go, they are marked “P” and “S” as they have a slight curve to them to follow the body shape so are not interchangeable side to side.
The slabs do create a really useful space in which to stuff weights the keep the model nose-heavy. This is because I want the nose used for something else, at least on the wing-folded model. You’ll also notice there has been some sanding around the intake and one of the inspection panels under the cockpit.
It is also necessary to cut the intake compressors off from one of the internal support pieces as they don’t fit inside the new inlets.
So, with all that done you can insert the new intakes. I’m not terribly good at all this modification lark, I will be honest, so my ones probably have needed much more filler that one made by a competent modeller. But they do fit and, with sanding, they look pretty bloody good I think.
The other modification requiring a bit of a hack is the smaller exhaust plates needed by the Gyron Junior. These are quite straightforward to insert.
The new airbrakes t the tail are a simple swap out for the kit parts and fit absolutely like a glove.
So, on to the next stage. I mentioned I kept a few other resin bits for extra messing about. Well, the main one was that the resin kit had a folding nosecone option. The Buccaneer was designed to fit British aircraft carriers and they had lifts of a set size to take the aircraft to and from from flight deck to hangar deck. The Buccaneer was too big for the lift in normal flying configuration, so in addition to the usual folding wings, Blackburn made sure that the airbrakes could be opened fully and the nose cone with its electronics fit and refuelling probe could also fold back. Doing all of this allowed the Bucc to fit the lifts. Clever.
The first step was to take off the nose from one kit. We have to remember to cut out a small bit for the hinge to go. The resin kit has a one-piece nose cone and a plug for the main part of the fuselage. These were really easy to fit to the Airfix kit.
The hinge piece itself was missing from the resin kit, so I just cut a bit of plastic card to size. The whole thing was glued up using two-part epoxy for strength, then the interior painted with yellow zinc chromate primer.
The kit was finished with practice 1000lb bombs and rocket launchers, a few remove-before-flight tags and open airbrakes.
For the other S.1, I wanted to change up the weapon load. From its very early days, the Buccaneer has one important job. Countering the threat from the Sverdlov class cruisers of the Soviet Navy. Built in the 1950s, these were the last conventional all-gun cruisers built by the Soviets, mounting 12 six-inch guns and defended with large amounts of radar-directed anti-aircraft artillery. In the days of guided missiles this may not sound too threatening, but in the late 1950s and early 1960s the Sverdlovs were a very potent enemy. Just remember, the six-inch guns of HMS Belfast moored near Tower Bridge in London could easily take out the London Gateway services on the M1, and the Sverdlov’s guns were more modern and better directed. So, the Admiralty decided that the best way to deal with them was to lob a nuclear bomb at them from a distance, and that the Buccaneer was the aircraft for the job.
The bomb used was called Red Beard. It was carried semi-recessed into the bomb bay as it was too large for internal carriage. The model comes from Freightdog, and includes the bomb with the modified bomb bay door. It all fits simply into the Airfix kit.
Painted up it looks menacing enough. The yellow “live round” stripe has a broken red stripe next to it – to denote special munition.
One final note is on the wing tips. The Airfix kit comes with the expected S.2 flared wingtips. These are triangular and flare out at the trailing edge. They were designed to counter some aerodynamic issues caused by the increased size of the Spey engine housing and inlet. They did, in turn cause some issues of wing loading, but that it by the by for now. Anyway, the S.1 had plain wingtips. Oddly enough, the Airfix kit comes with these too as part of the transparency sprue. Whether that is planning ahead for a future S.1 kit of their own, or whether later S.2s in the RAF or S.50s in South Africa reverted to the original design I’m not sure, but it made my job easier!
So, there we go. Painted up in a couple of variations seen in the squadron this brace of Buccaneer S.1s look rather fine and are a very good addition to the ‘heavy metal’ era of the squadron.