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USAAF A-20G in New Guinea


Giorgio N
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I keep saying myself that I shouldn't start new models when I already have 10 on the bench, however there are days when for some reason I feel the urge to start something. I had already planned my main build for this GB but when I read in the chat that aircraft based in New Guinea were eligible I was immediately attracted to a kit that I've been eyeing for a while: the MPM A-20G. When I realised that all 3 decal options included in the box were for New Guinea based machines I could not resist and grabbed the box from the stash

 

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The box is rather large and is adorned by what I find a very nice artwork. I'm rarely interested in the boxart however this is one I like a lot. Still, I've been building models for 35 years and I know that what matters is the plastic inside...

 

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The parts are moulded in a grey plastic that is not too hard and not too soft. Detail is good but don't expect Tamigawa mould quality here, this is afterall an MPM kit ! In a sense this kit is something in between the earlier traditional MPM/Special Hobby short runs and the latest Special Hobby metal mould kits. All parts have alignment pins and tabs where needed but the finesse is not the same of the latest kits. This ki does not enjpoy a great reputation when it comes to fit but in any case the detail is good and the accuracy is miles ahead of the old Matchbox offering. Not all parts will be used as the sprues also include all parts for th A-20J with clear nose. Clear nose that can be seen in the clear parts, here shown with the small decal sheet

 

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All 3 decal options are interesting and Miss Pam with the big red heart is tempting... however I still have fond memories of Green Hornet, as these were the markings that were included in the Matchbox kit and I remember how I loved these when I was a kid. I still have that model but it is now disassembled waiting for restoration so this will be a good replacement. It must be said that the Matchbox nose art was more accurate and detailed, but I'll live with the MPM decals.

This machine was serial 43-9407 and served with 675th BS of 417th BG in New Guinea between 1944 and 1945m when she crash landed and was written off

 

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Giorgio, I have two sets of Green Hornet decals. One is from a late 80's Matchbox purchase and the other is from a later AMT re-pop of the Matchbox kit. If you'd like either or both, PM me.

I'm not sure which is which, as they were both in the AMT box.

 

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Chris

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welcome aboard Giorgio and with another build, you're going to be very busy I reckon.

 

It's nice to see a Havoc (or Boston) in a GB, we don't see them very often at all. So it's great to see you've brought one along. I can't remember if i've built one of these or not, if so it'll be a Matchbox one.

 

The Green Hornet scheme does look good!

 

Well good luck with this build as well, it'll be great to follow and I look forward to seeing her in the gallery as well.

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Thanks everyone, glad to see that this subject has raised interest. I hope I can do this justice in model form !

And thanks a lot Chris, I'll take your offer, PM inbound !

 

Small update, I've started dryfitting the main parts and I can already tell that the cockpit will take some work to fit inside the fuselage... sounds like the fun has already started... 😁😁😁

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  • 1 month later...

With the Brits Abroad GB completed and a couple of work things sorted, I can finally get back to this kit !

First of all a big thanks to Chris who very kindly sent me two Matchbox sheets, from where I'll take the Green Hornet nose art. Appreciated !

Let's see some painted plastic... as often happens I started from the cockpit, where MPM includes a good representation of the structure and a nice instument panel. The cockpit of the real A-20G doesn't look too full of details, in any case I will have to add something to the throttle area as this is very bare in the kit

 

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The instrument panel can be made to look good with careful painting. No decal is included for the panel but it's not too hard to give an impression of the instruments with a small brush. Considering that very little will be visible of the panel I'd say that there's no point in adding any more detail here

 

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Now all this speaking of details is good but let's mention fit.. awful ! I had to trim most parts to make them fit properly inside the fuselage halves, the instrument panel was also trimmed on its edges, losing some detail. Without this work there's no way to make everything fit inside.

Similar problems are likely to hit me through the rest of the build, I checked the wings yesterday and the fit is going to be interesting....

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that cockpit area and IP look very nice. It's a shame you had to trim down the IP to get it to fit, but that's pretty much normal for these limited run models....that and poor fitting of parts.

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Thanks folks ! I finally have some proper progress on this model.. it's hard to believe how a full weekend without distractions can do to the hobby and I've managed to make quite a lot in this couple of days. I could have achieved even more had I not encountered (understatement mode engaged) a few fit issues...

 

The previous update only showed the basics of the cockpit. As I'm planning a closed canopy build I've not added really anything in terms of details, apart from a few levers in the throttle area. 6 levers to be accurate, that I guess are the throttles and prop controls for each of the two engines. These have rounded knobs on the real aircraft but I struggled to add these. What however I had to add was a set of seat belts, that as I generally do came from the metal foil used to cover the cork in wine bottles.

 

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With the wheel in place, I could close the fuselage halves, something that was easy enough but gave more indication that the reputation of this kit as bad fitting is deserved. Still, after a bit of work I managed to sort all areas and got this:

 

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The panel lines in this kit are quite deep and this is for the best, as the filling and sanding work needed to sort the joints takes quite a toll on the surface detail. I had to rescibe a few areas, particularly on the bottom of the fuselage.

I thought I had struggled but when it was time to glue the nose cone things got much worse.... now I generally glue the various fuselage parts together on each side before closing the fuselage halves. This approach makes sure that the parts are more correctly aligned. It was however hard to glue the nose cone in place in this way, so I decided to add this after the main fuselage parts were glued. To help the alignment of the parts I had to do quite some work on the nose cone halves, reducing the thickness on the bottom and adding a spacer at the rear end of the top side. This helped minimising the sanding needed to reduce the steps between the main fuselage and the nose cone. In the end I had a nice smooth transition, with only a gap at the top

 

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I have not yet glued the front of the nose cone with the exit points of the 4 .50 Cal. MGs, this because I want to have access to the nose cone in case I need more weight.

Models of WW2 US bombers with front tricicle landing gear are notorious tailsitters and the A-20 is no exception. The A-20G variant is the easier to sort as the solid front nose has room for plenty of weight. MPM suggests adding 10 g, I added at least 15, more likely 17-18 g.I should not need more but better be safe than sorry, when I checked the balance of the model I did not have the nacelles in place... I should add that a first dryfit of the front end of the nose cone showed how this is smaller than the part where it should be glued. I will have to add a small spacer to the nose cone before the end plate to better fair the parts in. Did I say that this kit had a reputation for bad fit ?

 

 

 

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The fuselage of this kit required a lot of work to achieve a decent fit. Maybe part of this is my fault, but the rest is all thanks to MPM !

When I first checked for fit of the various parts I noticed that the wings promised to be tricky, particularly where the nacelles extensions on the top and bottom halves meet. Well, I didn't know back then that this would have been the least of my problems...

I started work on the wings by inserting the top intakes, however not before opening the end of the intakes. I don't know what the nice guys at MPM were thinking when they moulded these parts, they are solid instead of having openings. Not a hard job to open them with a file but still....

The fit of the intakes was, guess what, not good, with quite wide gaps. These were sorted with two-component filler.

 

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See those bits of plasticard at the wing roots ? They are there to sort one of the major fit issues with this kit: the wings are are too thin at the root. This means that if the matter is not sorted, there would be a ridge between wing and fuselage where they meet on the undersides. When I first found that the parts didn't fit well I wondered what was the correct part so I grabbed the Febrary 2007 issue of Scale Aviation Modeller International that includes a great set of scale drawings by Arthur Bentley. I know that scale drawings are not always accurate but Bentley's drawings generally are and this time I trusted the name. A comparison with the drawings showed that the fuselage fairing was correct while te wing was indeed too thin. This is a sense was good news as it is easier to modify the wing thickness than removing material from the fuselage fairing, just insert a spacer and problem solved ! At the same time it also means that there's a risk of throwing the alignment of the landing gear off, as the this is glued on the lower wing halves. We'll see how it goes...

With a 0.5 mm spacer in place the wing at the root got the right thickness

 

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Not shown here, I also added a 0.25 mm strip at the trailing edge of the wing, to lift this part that would otherwise sink into the fuselage fairing. In this area I also had to bend slightly the last 4-5 mm of the wing to better follow the curvature. With this done it was time to glue the wing halves together and fill the leading edge. While I was filling I also touched up a number of spots on the intake panels

 

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When I offered the corrected wings to the fuselage I then found that even with the spacer added, the lower half of the wing didnt follow the profile at the fuselage fairing correctly, the spacer had sorted the thickness at the leading edge but not along the rest of the chord. To sort the matter I had to insert another spacer between top and bottom in this way:

 

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Now I finally have a nice profle at the wing root, practically identical to what is moulded on the fuselage.

Oh, and what about the nacelles extensions ? Really with some previous sanding and some strong clamping these areas ended up looiing decently... really they were the least of my problems !

 

While the wings were setting I took a chance to glue the taiplanes in place. These didn't suffer from so many problems as the wings, but the left one needed the alignment slot to be carved as otherwise the part would have been misaligned. Notice how the gap where the front cone meets the fuselage has also been filled while working on the wings. Much neater now

 

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I'm now really looking forward to gluing the wings in place... actually I've already glued one, the other should follow before tomorrow... this is now starting to look like an A-20 !

 

 

Edited by Giorgio N
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7 minutes ago, Beard said:

Nice work Giorgio, I'm taking notes because I have three in the stash and I'm sure I've read somewhere that this kit has a reputation for bad fit.

 

Glad to be of help ! Maybe I should have searched myself for some other build online before committing to mine, might have helped me to identify the problems in advance. Anyway, here I am sorting problems, hopefully my work will help others.

In the meantime you'll have read the story of how the wings need some work too, yes this reputation is fully deserved ! And I've not spoken of the nacelles yet...

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Looks as if you're having a modeller's nightmare with this one Giorgio :(  Well done for getting everything to touch where it should with a series of clever fixes.

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3 hours ago, Col. said:

Looks as if you're having a modeller's nightmare with this one Giorgio :(  Well done for getting everything to touch where it should with a series of clever fixes.

 

Thanks Col. !

I don't really know if I'm having a nightmare.. sure this kit is fighting me, has required a lot of work til now and will require more in the next assembly steps, but I'm approaching this with a very positive spirit. Don't know, maybe it's because I like the subject, maybe with a different subject I'd have given up earlier. Maybe it's because I was prepared to build a bad fitting kit, or maybe it's because until now the good aspects of this kit are still overcoming the fit issues. Maybe tomorrow I'll throw the model off the window but until today I have to say that I haven't felt particularly annoyed by these problems.

 

Speaking of fit, the modified wings went on quite well, I had some problems in getting the right angle on one of them but overall I'm happy enough now.

 

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I didn't realise that the A-20 was this big, I used to have the matchbox kit on the shelves so I should have known but I seem to have completely forgotten.

One other thing I forgot was to check the alignment of the tailplanes... when I checked the wing I noticed that one of them had too much dihedral, so I had to remove it and glue it again with a different angle... my mistake, I should have checked before gluing

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  • 1 month later...

While it's true that I've been working mainly on the Spitfire, I have not forgotten the A-20 !

What I'll show now may seem only a small step but it took a lot of time...

The way MPM designed the kit, it's very difficult if not impossible to add the landing gear after the nacelles are in place. The main landing gear legs are made of 5 parts each, and are a total nightmare to get right ! Alignment of the various parts is not easy and some of the parts don't fit well at all. It took me several attempts to get both in place and have them aligned properly. In the end I got there... well, almost, I still have to glue one part but it's not critical for the alignment (it's just a retraction strut)

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In the meantime I've also prepared the nacelles. I made a small modification to the intakes, adding a splitter plate that is quite visible in pictures of the real A-20. Nothing major but improves the look of these parts. I may add one comment... ok, I may sound boring by now... anyway fit was not good on these parts

 

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The next step will be painting the interior of the nacelles and wheel wells, all in Interior Green. Before this however I'll have to sand some of the nacelles-wing conctact points: the fit of these parts is absolutely atrocious, I have sanded the top of the nacelles on the rear-outer side, things are improving but I still have to sand a bit more. And then there will be a lot of filler to use. Really, I like the A-20 and I'd like to build another one, but I don't know if I could tackle another of these kits. At least not in the next 3-4 months, I need to recover my energy first !

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Great work so far Giorgio.

It's a pity that these kits don't fit together better than they do as they look like nicely detailed models and the A-20/Boston has long been a favourite of mine since building the Matchbox kit far too many years ago.

Keep going as I'm sure she will look stunning when finished.

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On 12/14/2018 at 11:37 AM, Beard said:

You're doing a good job Giorgio and my A-20s/ Bostons/ Havocs are moving deeper and into the stash.

 

Thanks ! I'm sorry that my buld has a bit disheartened you, this is not an easy kit to out together but mind, whenever the parts are together and filler applied and sanded, the model looks pretty good. All the fit issues are annoying me but at the same time I keep getting motivated in pushing through

 

On 12/14/2018 at 12:13 PM, modelling minion said:

Great work so far Giorgio.

It's a pity that these kits don't fit together better than they do as they look like nicely detailed models and the A-20/Boston has long been a favourite of mine since building the Matchbox kit far too many years ago.

Keep going as I'm sure she will look stunning when finished.

 

Thanks ! The Matchbox kit had a similar effect on me, it's just a pity that this has such oversized nacelles. Maybe I should have just copied the MPM nacelles in resin and used these on the Matchbox offering, could have been an easier build😁

 

On 12/17/2018 at 10:13 PM, trickyrich said:

I can just imagine what those U/c legs were like.....

 

You're doing a very tidy job on her, I just hope the nacelle/wing joins don't give you any trouble.

 

See this page showing the instructions for this kit..

https://www.super-hobby.it/products/A-20G-Havoc.html#gallery_start

 

6 parts for each gear leg, not for the faint-hearted ! 😁

 

The nacelles of course did give me a few troubles... they don't look too bad from below

 

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But looking from the sides a few gaps are evident

 

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The worst sides are the ones facing the fuselage, that I couldn't reach with the camera. Hopefully some filler will sort the matter. Speaking of these sides, the presence of a bulged intake meant that I had to paint the lower ends with Neutral Grey, as I'm not sure I'll be able to reach them with the airbrush. Maybe I should have painted the whole nacelles before gluing them but with the need for filling and sanding the finish would have not survived.

 

The top of the nacelles showed some small steps but some vigorous sanding sorted the matter

 

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Hmmm.... not too bad !

Not too visible in the pictures is the work I did on the port edge of the fuselage where it meets the canopy. The plastic here was thicker than on the other side and this resulted in a step between the fuselage and canopy. I sanded the area trying to keep the panel straight, I should have sorted this now and a dry-fit of the canopy showed a decent fit.

Next step will of course be filling the gaps around the nacelles. Then it will be time to sort the canopy and with this will come one of the tasks I feat most of this kit: masking the transparencies !

 

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