Boston Mk. V/A-20J
The A-20/DB-7 Havoc, better known to those with an interest in the Royal Air Force as the Boston, was a light bomber developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company of Long Beach, California. Designed to a US Air Force specification issued in 1937, the aircraft’s first customer was actually the French Air Force, who had been impressed by its performance whilst visiting the USA as part of a pre-war purchasing commission. Those aircraft not delivered to France by the time the armistice had been signed in 1940 were taken up by the RAF instead.
The first squadron to be equipped with the Boston was 88 Squadron of Bomber Command. By the War’s end, no fewer than 24 squadrons had operated the Boston, either as a light bomber or night fighter. A handful of aircraft were converted to Havoc I Turbinlite standard, with a powerful searchlight in the nose, designed to illuminate enemy aircraft for accompanying night fighters. Unfortunately the huge searchlight made the Turbinlites an easy target and this particular chapter of the Boston’s history was not a successful one. The A-20 was also widely used by the USAAF and by the end of the war, almost 7,500 of the type had rolled off the production lines.
Revell have been kind to those of us who choose to model in 1:72 scale over the last six weeks or so, as this kit follows hot on the heels of their Harrier GR Mk. 7/9 and Heinkel He 115. As with the aforementioned kits, this is also a re-release of a kit originally tooled by another manufacturer - this time from MPM of the Czech Republic.
Nestled inside Revell’s familiar bright blue box are four sprues of grey plastic and a single sprue of clear plastic. Together they hold a total of 118 parts, which is pretty respectable for a kit of this size. There is no flash present anywhere and as far as I can see, there are no flaws in the plastic. Surface details are comprised of fine, engraved panel lines and there is a convincing stretched fabric effect on the rudder and horizontal tail. The overall impression is very favourable indeed.
The cockpit is rather well-appointed for this kind of model. It is made up of a floor, seat, rudder pedals, two-part control column, instrument panel, sidewalls and bulkheads. A decal is provided for the instrument panel, but it isn’t really needed as the instruments are picked out with fine, raised details on the plastic parts. The bomb aimer/observer position is just as good and includes a very nice bomb sight. The crew positions are completed by the mid-upper turret, which is a little more basic than the other positions, but still good enough to pass muster.
Once the fuselage halves have been joined together, the wings and horizontal stabilisers can be assembled and fixed to the fuselage. The parts have location tabs and slots to help ensure a positive fit. The prominent cowlings, under which hide the large Double-Cyclone engines, each have to be fitted with nine cooling vents. Fortunately Revell’s instructions are very clear in this regard, so you shouldn’t have any problems. The engines themselves are made up of three parts – two rows of seven cylinders and the reduction gearing. They are nicely detailed and should look good once assembled.
The undercarriage looks well detailed, but frighteningly complex. Each of the main gear legs is made up of no fewer than six parts, plus the wheels themselves. I would recommend taking great care over these stages in the instructions, lest you end up with a wonky aeroplane when you come to rest it on its tyres. The main gear legs actually fit directly to the wings, and it is possible to fit the rear engine nacelles over these parts afterwards. This should make things a little less frustrating as you will be able to place the parts precisely rather than having to stuff them inside a cramped undercarriage bay.
The remainder of the build is concerned with the addition of the transparent parts and the remaining fine details. These include the radio antenna and DF loop as well as the .303 Browning machine guns. The guns are very nicely recreated and the cooling sleeves in particular are convincingly detailed. The transparent parts are thin and clear and shouldn’t present any problems, although I have not been able to check to see how well they fit at this point in time.
Two options are provided for on the decal sheet:
- Douglas Boston Mk. V, No, 13 Squadron, 232 Wing, Royal Air Force, Italy 1944; and
- Douglas A-20J Havoc, 646th Bomb Squadron, 410th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force, USAAF, Gosfield, England, June 1944.
As this is the only modern tooling of the Boston in 1:72 scale, it’s fairly easy to recommend it to modellers interested in adding the type to their collection. It looks very good indeed on the sprue, although opinion seems to be divided on how easy it is to build. Some people have reported fit issues whilst others have stated that the kit is a breeze to build. Nevertheless, it is still the best Boston out there and can be firmly recommended.
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