Durafly Brewster F2A Buffalo


Written by Jon R. Barnes
Fly the U.S. Navy’s first monoplane fighter aircraft
As seen in the SUMMER 2019 issue of Park Pilot



Bonus Video

SPECIFICATIONS:

TYPE: Semiscale electric warbird
SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate
WINGSPAN: 36.2 inches
LENGTH: 26.4 inches
Airframe weight: 23.8 ounces
Ready-to-fly weight: 30.5 ounces
PRICE: $139.78
INFO: hobbyking.com

Features:

  • EPO foam kit assembles quickly
  • Model is designed to be hand launched and belly landed
  • Uses popular and affordable three-cell 2,200 mAh LiPo batteries
  • Two color schemes available
  • Molded-in-the-foam finger grip for easy overhand launching
  • Ball-link connectors on all control surface linkages
  • Plastic fairings/covers over the aileron servos/control linkages streamline the wing’s underside
  • Product Review

    The Brewster Buffalo saw service early in World War II and was one of the first U.S. Navy airplanes to include a tail arrestor hook for landing on aircraft carriers. Although the airframe predominantly utilized riveted aluminum construction, its control surfaces were still covered with fabric.
    The Durafly Buffalo stands apart from the crowd of currently available park flyer-size warbirds because of its mid-set, shoulder-configuration wing. Models equipped with this style and position of wing are typically fewer and farther between than the more commonly available low-wing-configuration warbirds.

    The included plastic wing fairings aerodynamically streamline this Buffalo while in the air and help protect the aileron linkages during belly landings.

    Durafly offers pilots two color scheme options. A bright yellow, gray, and white scheme is listed as being used before the start of WW II. Period-accurate pre-WW II U.S. Navy roundels adorn both the top and bottom of the wing. This brightly colored scheme also features the stark contrast of a cool-looking, blacked-out cowling and dummy engine. A more-conventional, authentic U.S. Navy bluish-gray color scheme is also available.
    Durafly decided to keep things as simple as possible with this less-than-1-meter wingspan, EPO foam model. There is no landing gear included with the kit, nor is a set available as an extra cost option. The relatively complicated configuration and articulating geometry of the full-scale Buffalo might at least partially explain this design consideration.
    A paper assembly manual is not included in the box. Pilots can, however, easily access the manual online. A color PDF version of the manual is available on the HobbyKing website by navigating to the Buffalo product page. Clicking on the “upload files” tab will reveal a clickable link.

    This kit assembles using both adhesive and fasteners. The included additional cockpit tray allows fixed-wing FPV enthusiasts to see the world below through the eyes of this Buffalo.

    Assembling this low-parts-count kit will require pilots to source an adhesive of their choice (I used contact-style adhesive), with the wing and underbody hand grip anchored to the fuselage via two long fasteners. Ball-link-style connectors, preferred by many pilots for the manner in which they minimize, if not eliminate, play in the linkages, are used on the control surface ends of all pushrods.
    Somewhat enigmatically, the servo ends of the pushrods attach to the control horns with a Z-bend. Aileron servo and pushrod covers help streamline the underside of the wing and protect the aileron control linkages during belly landings.
    A safe approach to battery placement on the first flights is to push the recommended three-cell, 2,200 mAh battery as far forward as possible in the fuselage. Pilots can then experiment with slowly shifting the center of gravity rearward after the model has been trimmed and flown a few times.
    Durafly engineered a conveniently located, molded-in-the-foam finger grip to help make overhand tosses easy and effective. The wide dimensions of the Buffalo’s fuselage do not necessarily rule out also being able to grip it and launch it in an arcing, underhand fashion.
    The noticeably short tail moment of this stoutly proportioned airframe creates a model that can be slightly pitch sensitive in flight if set up with an excessive amount of elevator throw. Pilots can tame any exhibited pitch sensitivity by lessening the rates on the pitch axis and also softening said axis with a bit of exponential.
    The three-cell-based power system sips current quite efficiently from the recommended 2,200 mAh-size LiPo battery pack. Pilots who are content to cruise around at reduced throttle settings might be able to eke out flight durations upward of 10 minutes.
    Push the throttle to the full position, and pilots will be pleased to see that the system is also capable of producing plenty of power. At full throttle, this Buffalo thunders across the sky with an impressive roar. The propeller on my Buffalo sounded slightly off balance at a higher rpm. Aggressive vertical climbouts and spirited aerobatic maneuvers are part of this Buffalo’s in-flight repertoire.

    Although the recommended three-cell, 2,200 mAh battery pack provides sufficient flight durations, an amply dimensioned battery bay should permit pilots to experiment with slightly larger-capacity packs.

    Belly landing this model on any surface except soft, green vegetation can potentially result in the EPO foam underbelly getting scraped and scarred. A molded-into-the-foam, somewhat bulbous protuberance is positioned on the centerline and seems designed to take at least some of the brunt of the blows. A clear, protective plastic overlay would have been a nice inclusion in the kit.
    On final approach, pilots should carry a little speed all the way to touchdown. The relatively large diameter of the Buffalo’s fuselage makes for a lot of drag-inducing frontal area. Consequently, allow this chubby little model to get on the slow side of things and it will signal its displeasure with a sudden drop of its snout and a less-than-soft set down.
    The best landing practices are to fly it down into ground effect, keeping a small amount of throttle applied at all times. When it is a foot or so off of the ground, pilots can slowly ease the throttle and hold it off by feathering in small amounts of up-elevator. A judiciously applied combination of these two control inputs will result in the Buffalo tamely slowing until it loses adequate airspeed and plops to the ground.
    With the release of this park flyer-size Brewster Buffalo, Durafly deserves a round of applause for making a compact EPO foam-composition version of this infrequently modeled fighter available to pilots. At the time I wrote this review, spare parts were listed and available for both color schemes (accessed via a file tab located near the bottom of the HobbyKing product page).
    Should any unplanned unpleasantries occur, the listed spare parts inventory of seven items should serve to prevent pilots’ Buffalos from going extinct. Those who are bored by the usual “beef and chicken” warbird offerings and are ready to try something delightfully different, are sure to enjoy the fresh Buffalo being served up by Durafly!


    Of the two available color schemes, the brightly colored, pre-WW II yellow, gray, and white scheme should offer the best in-flight orientation cues.




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