|Kit:||Special Hobby, 1/72; bought for $24.95 in 2022. Model finished on 2023-01-03.|
|Aircraft:||"71-5" (c/n C.4K-9), 71 Escuadrón de caza-bombardeo, Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force), Gandu, Islas Canarias, 1958.|
The Buchón is a Spanish development of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G which, due to circumstances rather than a solid technical design rationale, used the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Spain purchased a license to build Bf 109Gs during World War II, but never received the Daimler-Benz DB 605 engines. And after the war ended, there were no more such engines to be acquired, so the airframes (after some not-so-successful tests with Hispano-Suiza engines) had to wait for the Spanish/British relations to normalize before some Rolls-Royce Merlin engines could be bought. Thus, the aircraft didn't become fully operational until well in the 1950s. They served the Spanish Air Force well into the 1960s, and even saw some combat in Northern Africa. Their main claim to fame, however, is that a large number of Buchóns were purchased and converted to look like Bf 109Es for the 1969 film "The Battle of Britain".
For background research, I went and took some photos of a restored Buchón at the Air Zoo museum at the Kalamazoo airport in Michigan. I don't necessarily trust all the details on that aircraft; particularly, I am doubtful of the color that was used (see more of that below). It was interesting to see a "real one" nonetheless.
The Special Hobby kit is more or less accurate, but suffers from "flash" and ill-fitting parts; especially the wing roots gave me lots of trouble. For a modern kit, I had to work awfully hard to fill all the seams and make parts fit. I would expect this, perhaps, from kits I normally build that tend to be even from the 1960s, but this is a kit issued only a few years ago (2014 says Scalemates).
The kit comes with a nice photo-etch sheet, from which I used the instrument panel, some air intake grilles, and the wing fences, but I opted for Eduard's colored seatbelts. The reflector gunsight was useless, so I scratch-built a new one using some transparent acetate sheet and Evergreen stock. I also replaced the kit's poorly fitting canopy (!) with a spare from a FineMolds' Bf 109G kit, as well as the armored headrest (in the real aircraft it was bulletproof glass, not solid like the kit portrays).
Kit's pitot tube is too short, so I had to add a metal one. I also used BarracudaCast 3D-printed aileron mass balances (thank you, Roy!), they worked better than the ones provided with the kit. What's also good about them is that they come in large quantities (as it happened, I lost two in the process).
Seams were first filled with Squadron green putty, and after sanding some Vallejo acrylic putty was added.
For a modern kit, I had to work awfully hard to fill all the seams and make parts fit.
Eduard seat belts and a scratch-built reflector gunsight. Not much of these will be properly visible once the canopy is attached, but hey...
Wing fence detail.
Airframe complete, test fitting the canopy. Note the photo-etch wing fences.
Canopy installed, masked, and seams filled.
Literature typically refers to the all-blue coloring of the Buchón as being "cobalt blue" or "Peugeot blue". Restorations (such as the one in Kalamazoo, MI) and many models I have seen have opted for the former, a deep aquamarine blue, although no concrete evidence exists (to the author's knowledge) that this was the actual color used. One story of "Peugeot blue" refers to a squadron commander who really liked his French Peugeot convertible and its color. I found a 1959 Peugeot color chart , and it does not have anything even close to aquamarine, but it does have a greenish dark blue color, roughly the same that appears in a well-known (and possibly only) color picture of the HA-1112 (see below). This is also the color on the color profiles in . The exact color I settled on is one for which there is no match in FS 595, but #35109 might be in the ballpark.
I first primed the model with Alclad II White Primer & Microfiller, and then painted it with Mr.Color lacquers. There is no color in their range that would have matched the "Peugeot blue", so I had to mix it: mostly #110 (blue) + some #135 (green) + a little bit of #107 (white), in a mixture that "looked right".
Peugeot color chart from 1959 ; color No.3 (top row) could be the "Peugeot blue" mentioned in literature.
Alclad White Primer coat to detect any remaining flaws.
Masking the canopy. I like to mask and paint in stages, but for the windshield I used masks I developed for an earlier Bf 109 project. They were cut with a Cricut cutter.
This is what you need to do after you realize you forgot to mask the white rudder before spraying the blue color.
The aircraft "71-5" is perhaps one of the most-photographed HA-1112s, and indeed the kit comes with decals for it. These decals generally worked quite well, they come off the backing paper very quickly, but unfortunately have the tendency to break easily (I have noticed this before with Special Hobby's decals). I reinforced all the small decals with Liquid Decal Film just to be safe.
After a coat of Alclad II Gloss Klear Kote the model received a few coats of a mixture of Testors Dullcote and Glosscote for a finish that is not quite flat.
Applying decals. I used the kit decals; the small ones had to be reinforced.
There is plenty of reference material available about the Buchón. Martinez' book  is an invaluable reference, and so is the 1996 article in Air Enthusiast .
A well-known picture of a Buchón from the 1950s. Whether the colors are even close to being accurate is anybody's guess.