November 2023

Fairey Gannet AEW.3

HS Buccaneer S.2

Fi-156 Storch

Supermarine Spitfire Vb

Link to Website Index:

Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2

800 Naval Air Squadron,

HMS EAGLE, 1971.

Airfix, with Modeldecal Set 57 - 1/72

Link to Website Index:

<<Link to previous month  Link to Next Month >>


The S.2 variant of the Buccaneer introduced the larger and more powerful Rolls Royce Spey engine, finally allowing the Buccaneer to reach its true potential. Widely and affectionately known as the "Banana Jet" due to its initial title of "NA.39 Blackburn Advanced Naval Aircraft (BANA)", the S.2 Buccaneer transformed the capabilities of the RN's carrier force.

Operating at very low level over sea or land, the Buccaneer was a superb strike aircraft, capable of carrying a wide range of nuclear or conventional weapons over a remarkable range. Initial S.2 aircraft were finished in a white and extra dark sea grey finish as a compromise between the anti-nuclear-flash whites of the S.1 and over-sea grey. This proved to be badly matched to an increasingly low-level strike role and the Buccaneers were quickly repainted in an overall extra dark sea grey, which they retained until handed over to the RAF when the RN Carriers were withdrawn from service in the late 1970s.

HMS EAGLE was the most modern, largest and most capable of the Cold War RN Carriers, although she was de-commissioned before ARK ROYAL as a cost saving measure, since she had not yet had the costly deck modifications needed to operate the F-4.  

800 Sqn spent much of their time with her in the Far East, including Singapore and Aden, plus providing overwatch and protection to Far Eastern UK interests whilst the Vietnam war was in progress.  

The (old) Airfix Buccaneer kit:

This month’s 2nd build is an update and refurbishment of a model I originally built in 1991. It is the old (1989) kit, which was an upgraded mould with a distant relationship to the 1960 NA.39 kit.  Decals come from Modeldecal set 57, which includes 3 Buccaneer S.2.   The kit itself is very simple (although far improved on its NA.39 ancestor) and I did little to improve it other than adding the new decals.  Like most Buccaneer kits, there is something not right about the nose profile. I have a few of these in the stash, along with sets of the resin nose replacements that were widely available when this was the best Buccaneer kit available.   

Unfortunately over the years, the decals have become badly stained with brown marks that almost look like rust.  I’m not sure if this is because I used decal setting solution (Humbrol Decalfix) or is the adhesive layer from the old Modeldecal sets.  Strangely there are only two kits in my collection that seem to have reacted this way;  this one and a Lynx built in 2000 (which may have used some decals from the same sheet!.

However, since I have a spare set (equally old) in the decal stash, now seemed a good time to refurbish the kit so that it can sit alongside my other Buccaneer models without looking too shabby!

I lightly sanded down the existing decals then overpainted the entire model with thinned Humbrol 123 Extra Dark Sea Grey.  This was significantly darker than the existing coat, which has either faded, or perhaps was originally Dark Sea Grey - I may have made a mistake as I built the kit whilst away from home.  Alternatively, perhaps Humbrol’s paint is now darker - all are possible !  By painting carefully, I was able to preserve some of the existing smaller decals, including the yellow lines on the wing and the markings around the cockpit.  

After a light coat of Klear floor polish to help the decals bed in, I took the opportunity to add some very light oily wash weathering, then a topcoat of Micro Scale Satin varnish to finish.

Left:  the new decals.

The “slipper tanks” on this older kit are very different from those supplied with the current Airfix kits.  Perhaps there are different ones (e.g. I know the South Africans used larger tanks), but these ones look a lot more like my references than the newer ones?  

In all, this is a kit whose time has passed.  I have another 3 in the stash (plus, I think, a similar number of FROG ones) and will definitely build them , even though I have one of the superb new Airfix kits as well.  

The Buccaneer is one of my favourite aircraft, even in its mud-moving RAF colours (although it will always be, first and foremost, a naval strike aircraft) and I need a few more in the collection!

Link to more Fleet Air Arm aircraft on my Flight Deck pages

November 2023 - Fairey Gannet AEW.3

Link to November 2023 Part 1 (Gannet AEW.3) >>

Part 2

Above:  © IWM A 35120 - Buccaneer aircraft of 800 Squadron from HMS EAGLE on patrol over Aden/Khormatisar airfield, during the withdrawal of British forces on 29 November 1967.

Below:  © IWM HU 106844 - RN Ships anchored off Aden during the British withdrawal.

Above:  My current Buccaneer models.  Clockwise from top left:  Airfix (old mould), FROG, Airfix NA.39 (as S.1), FROG, and FROG.

Below:  Buccaneer S.2 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton

Below:  Buccaneer S.2 at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington

Below:  Buccaneer S.1 at the Newark Air Museum, Lincolnshire

Below:  RAF Buccaneer S.2 at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Below:  Buccaneer S.2 in RAF Gulf War colours at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington