1/72 Matchbox/Revell Buckeye

Gallery Article by Carmel J. Attard on Dec 12 2014




In 1956 the US Navy identified a requirement for a jet trainer that would be suitable to take the pupil, after completion of the induction phase through all the more advanced stages including bombing, gunnery, and fighter tactics, to the point of carrier qualifications.

North American Aviation already had proven designs proposals in past from the FJ-1 Fury to T-28 Trojan. The first of pre-production aircraft, flown initially on 31st January 1958 was a mid wing configuration accommodating pupil and instructor in tandem on LS-1 ejection seat, the instructor seat at the rear was raised to provide good view forward. The design provided a robust landing gear, powered controls, large trailing edge flaps and an airbrake on each side of the fuselage and a retractable single type arrestor hook, all hydraulically actuated.

The initial production T2J-1 (designated T-2A from 1962) was powered by a single 3,400 lb Westinghouse J-34-WE-48 turbojet within the fuselage. Before entering into service navalised Buckeye initially equipped BTG-7, later VT-7 at Naval Air Service Meridian. Production totalled 201 aircraft. 

Another version, a T2J-1 conversion was flown on 30th August1962 with two 3,000 lb thrust Pratt and Whitney J60-P-6 turbojets. This version T-2B aircraft first flew on 21st May 1965 entering service with VT-4 at NAS Pensacola. There were 97 production T2Bs. Following evaluation of a T-2B converted with two General Electric J85-GE-4 engines 231 aircraft designated T2C were built for US Navy air training.

At a later date a small number of T2B and T2C aircraft were converted as drone directors under the respective designations DT-2B and DT-2C. The US Navy also produced two T-2 trainer variants (basically similar to the T-2C) on behalf of Venezuela and Greek Air Forces. The FAV received 12 T-2D trainers in 1973 plus an additional 12 weapon-capable aircraft in 1976.

One of the current US Navy squadrons that is providing realistic air combat training to US Navy fighter pilots after the need for such training was drastically shown in Vietnam based at NAS Oceana, Virginia beach near Norfolk, Fleet Fighter Squadron VF-43 which also flew F-16N, F5E and A-4s. This involved the application of a specialized training syllabus and dedicated squadrons of highly trained and motivated pilots.

These specialized aviators skills could hopefully be transferred to newer aviators about to go into combat. Among aircraft operated by VF-43 for spin training is the Rockwell T2 Buckeye. In similar way as the A-4s and F-5s also wore the aggressor style grey camouflage. They were used for giving F-14 pilots spinning and out of control flight (OCCF) indoctrination impossible in their own aircraft. The spin training syllabus more formally called “out of control Flight Program". This begun in 1979 using T2C Buckeye trainers. Easy and forgiving to fly the T2 offered an ideal platform for introducing F-14 crew in the pitfalls of spins as well as showing them how to get out of them.

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The kit
Make: Matchbox/Revell
Scale: 1/72
Type: Injection molded kit with two decal options.
Other: Pavla resin cockpit resin detail set.

The T2 Buckeye is molded in two colours of plastic, white and grey. Taking advantage of the Matchbox Buckeye kit I have built it to represent a VT-43 trainer aircraft. The kit PK-42 consists of 32 injection molded parts in plastic with two decal options for a T2C Buckeye of VT-23 1983 or a T2E of 362 Mira 120aPtirx Air Training Command of Hellenic AF 1980.

The rather poor cockpit interior was much enhanced by rebuilding in the space provided with the Pavla resin set 72086 that consist of a detailed complete cockpit set for the tandem seat arrangement and a detailed nose wheel well comprising 16 resin detail parts and a clear vac form canopy. This was done by first removing by cutting and grinding off all the inside cockpit webbing so that a completely blank space is produced to take the resin cockpit interior parts. The kit front and mid instrument coaming was also removed as these are replaced with resin detail parts.

Next step is to paint all the resin detail parts according to the Pavla instructions that also come with the set. The rear side console comes in way to the wing root, the part that slots inside the fuselage. This is therefore removed by cutting a portion 2x8mm.

The nose wheel well resin part and cockpit main assembly are now tried for good fit and once this is achieved these are fixed in place to one side of fuselage. A small amount of lead weight is added to the little nose space there is which proved to be sufficient to hold kit on nose wheel. Other resin detail parts are now fixed in place namely side consoles, rudder pedals, ejection seats, control columns and front and middle cockpit coaming and instrument panels taking care that tiny detail such as ejection seat handles are not damaged during the process. From then on the assembly is a straightforward one. A little filler was required to the wing to fuselage joint. The fuselage could now be closed and fixed permanently.

It was the turn to add external detail to fuselage. This consisted of an ‘L’shaped antenna positioned under the nose which was made from a piece of metal wire; two small air intakes which were added under the fuselage, that are shaped from small pieces of scrap plastic. There are now 5 air intakes fitted to fuselage, three of these existed. The front of these was hand drilled with a .4mm diameter drill. Two anti spin streaks, made from thin strips of plastic were added, one to just above the engine air intakes and the other above the air break all to each side of fuselage. The clear, thin vac form cockpit is now trimmed and fitted in place, replacing the Matchbox kit part. Crew figures were also added prior to closing the cockpit canopy.

Colour and markings.
The model was finished as a Buckeye attached to VF-43 which is in 3-tone grey wrap round camouflage which are FS 35164 intermediate blue (Compucolor), FS 36231 Dark Gull Grey (Modelmaster) and FS 36440 (Modelmaster). Markings came from spares box mainly of Scale master brand. Kit was given a semi gloss sheen using Modelmaster lacquer.

The completed model now captures well the graceful lines of the Buckeye. The model is now placed next to another Buckeye T2B (Airmodel Vac form kit) that was built some time before.

Carmel J. Attard

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Photos and text © by Carmel J. Attard