Ferrari 312B2, 1971
History of the actual car
This model built in late 1993 represents that driven by Clay Regazzoni during the 1971 season. The car was under major development following the successful but limited 312B design of 1970 which nearly won the Drivers Championship following Lotus driver, Jochen Rindt’s death at Monza. Changes to the car for 1971 were generally unsuccessful and this less pretty car had a succession of suspension changes with the new generation of lower profile Firestone tyres causing everyone to design their way out of wheel vibration issues. Chief of these were the unusual ‘horizontal’ rear coil over damper shock absorbers, later replaced by the more usual inwardly inclined springs adopted by other teams. The full engine cover-cum-rear wing was more commonly used compared to the central finned supported rear wing arrangement derived from the 1970 car which left the oil tank exposed and able to disrupt smooth airflow to the rear wing surface. Regazzoni won once in the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, whilst Jackie Ickx won the Dutch Grand Prix, Ferrari falling from second to third in the Constructors’ points table, by season’s end. For 1972, the struggle with the 312B2’s continued, precipitating design frenzy in 1973 to regain success and maintain position amongst the frontrunners with the 312B3. However in 1972, Ickx was able to win in Germany, but Ferrari’s points tally was only half that of Constructors’ champions Lotus, a quite reasonable showing compared to the depths Ferrari would plumb in 1973.
The Ferrari 312B2 was not an especially admirable car when achievements on the race track were considered. Nor was the B2 particularly good to look at when compared with the beautiful prototypical 312B of 1970. The car’s succession of changes to suspension geometry (in response to Firestone tyre woes no doubt) and detachable bodywork (nosecone and rear engine cover cum rear wing) indicated frustrating lack of resolution of serious technical issues. Protar’s offering of the 312B2 in 1/12 was far short of that provided by Tamiya’s 312B, so why is it here? Simply because Protar modelled it, it has to be acquired and built to fill in the gaps of an interesting Ferrari lineage. Protar’s commitment to Ferrari models in 1/12 kit form meant that important gaps in the Tamiya choices (312B2, 312T2, 312T5) could be filled and the B2 was one of them. The horizontal rear coil over damper shock absorbers were one good reason to want to build the model, not to mention Ferrari’s continuation of the use of a semi-monocoque (regulation 16g) aluminium panel over spaceframe construction.
The model was essentially built from the box and quite well built without any of my current approaches in force back in the 1990’s. I did add brake lines and jubilee radiator hose clips however. The paintwork was entirely by enamel paints using a brush as I remember including the bodywork. On examination now, I suspect that some sort of airbrush approach was tried on the aluminium oil tank and engine block etc but it’s hard to remember. The model’s construction was documented on print film back then, each subassembly carefully recorded as usual. However, those prints need to be digitalised for I am unlikely to re-build the model for quite some time and so at some point, standard prints of the model during construction will surface in the form of ‘sub-standard’ digital images, after scanning them in etc. There appears to be no filling efforts, where the often ill-fitting Protar parts come together imperfectly and the over heavy plastic components in the engineering of the suspension in particular are ripe for replacement some day. Protar’s wheels and tyres were in my opinion unaturally large for the model and I replaced them with Tamiya 312B tyres and wheels, proabably not ideal especially as they are treaded tyres as used throughout the late 60’s and 1970. Slicks were introduced early 1971, certainly by the Spanish Grand Prix which were modelled by Protar, though somewhat oversized in my opinion. Tyre vibration problems were the worry with a new generation of lower profile covers, Goodyear overcoming the problems quicker than Firestone, such that the likes of Ferrari and Lotus suffered more. Over the engine, air-boxes were introduced by Tyrrell and Matra, the rest following, but Ferrari resisted. For this model however, not possessing a 312B at the time, I scratch-built a 312B-like rear wing arrangement which I thought was often used on the B2 and had this as an alternative arrangement, seen in the above photographs. However, subsequent research shows that where the 312B-like rear wing was employed (eg Spain, Italy and Watkins Glen), that in fact the cars were 312B’s, pressed-into service because the newer B2 car was often uncompetitive.
If I were in a position to re-build this model, the removal of enamel paints and disarticulation of the model would be eminently possible and enable me to start from scratch. I would discard parts of the rear suspension and replace with metal components, superdetail the model where I could and properly ‘fill and sand’ all the ill-fitting parts. Fortunately some years ago I acquired a second set of decals, so this project is possible. I would retain the horizontally opposed rear shock absorbers for this is an interesting technical innovation with which the car first appeared. Later during 1971, these were replaced by conventional inclined units and if one had a second kit, the alternative approach could be modelled. Spray painting the model and use of the lathe would enhance such a model, but realistically with many scratch-built projects in the pipe line, this re-build project is not a high priority.