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A-26C-15  Invader (48283) 1:48 ICM via Hannants


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A-26C-15  Invader (48283)

1:48 ICM via Hannants

 

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The A-26 was built by Douglas back in WWII as their successor to the A-20 Havoc.  Two types were designed, The C with a glass bomber nose and the B with a full metal nose filled with either 6 or 8 .50cal machine guns, which coupled with the three in each wing gave it quite a punch, deserving of the Strafer title.  It also had a pair of turrets on the fuselage mid-upper and dorsal positions, which were both operated by a single gunner using a complex remote mechanism that flipped between the upper and lower turrets depending on where the gunner was looking through his binocular sights.  This trained the guns accordingly and also calculated the correct offset for parallax and lead, but was very complex and caused some delays to it entering service, and even more issues with maintenance in the field. Then in 1948 it was re-designated as the B-26 by the US Air Force to confuse us, and later on back to the A-26 just to complete that process of confuion.  It was developed a little after the Marauder and despite using the same engines it was designed totally separately from its tubular colleague.  It was initially less than popular in the Pacific theatre where its poor cockpit visibility due to the canopy and engine position rendered it unloved by the first users.  It was more popular in the European theatre and was accepted as replacement for the Havoc fairly quickly. After the war it served in Korea, early Vietnam engagements and other conflicts, ending its days in US service with the Air National Guard in the early 70s.  It continued in civilian service as a fire bomber and in other roles, such as actor in the film Always with Richard Dreyfuss playing its brave but ill-fated pilot.

 

 

The Kit

This is a brand new tooling from ICM, initially released as the Solid nosed aircraft, this is now the glass nosed aircraft with the inclusion of new parts for that nose (though all the parts for the solid nose are still in the box)  It arrives in the familiar top opening box with a captive inner lid on the lower tray, and inside are nine sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet.  A quick look over the sprues reveals that panel lines are very crisp, narrow and restrained, the surface is matt and very neat-looking, with plenty of engraved and raised details on the parts, plus subtly indented flying surfaces mimicking their fabric covering.  You might also notice that there are parts for an open or closed canopy, the open one having the flat top surface, while the closed canopy has the slightly blown roof that was used after 1944 to improve visibility.  That might give you some latitude in case you can't wait to build a WWII aircraft.

 

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Construction begins with the cockpit, creating the pilot's seat, instrument panel (with instrument decals) with built-in door to the nose, centre console with throttle quadrant before adding those and the single control column to the floor.  The aft compartment is built up around the front wing spar with a set of radio gear hanging from a pair of risers, then a pair of bombs on their racks, the reason for which will become clear in a moment.  The port fuselage half is detailed with some side console and panel parts and then has the bomb racks, nose gear bay sides, forward spar with radio gear, rear spar in the centre of the bomb bay, sloped aft bulkhead and another frame behind that, followed by the cockpit floor, so you'll have to do some detail painting as you go.  After this the starboard fuselage side is prepped, and here's where a little cautionary note about sink-marks on the exterior of my sample needs making.  The right side of the cockpit and bomb bay with its detailed ribbing has caused the shallowest of sink-marks on the exterior, which would be best dealt with using a little filler before you get busy building.  You could have dismissed it as oil-canning of the skin if it were consistent and on both sides, but as it isn't you'll need to decide whether you're going to fix it.  Happily the majority of it is in areas that are open enough to allow easy sanding back of filler, so it shouldn't slow you down very much.  A 0.8mm hole is drilled in the section behind the canopy and the two remaining bomb racks are added inside along with an internal detail panel, nose gear bay side, and a hatch that does a credible impression of a toilet lid.

 

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With that and a quantity of detail painting you can then slide the starboard fuselage over the two spars. The instructions then have you building up the tail feathers, with the elevators having separate single-part flying surfaces, plus a two piece rudder to attach to the moulded-in tail fin.  The glass-nose is appropriate for this model, but as it's a modular part that in real-world situations could be swapped for the gun-nose in a short time.  This is built up and added on as a complete unit along with its glazing.

 

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The wings are next, and the lower parts have a smattering of flashed-over holes ready to drill out for bombs, gun-pods or drop tanks, plus three cartridge ejection chutes to be cut out for the wing mounted .50cals.  The faces of the in-line radiator baths are added to the lower wings and then it's already time to bring the halves together.  You'll notice that there are fairings and a hump in the upper wing where the engine nacelles will be, and these are separate assemblies to be built up later.  First, the separate two-section flaps (oddly with no deployed option), and the ailerons are prepared and added to the trailing edge of the wings, the latter being of one piece each and slotting into wing via two tabs.  The tip lights and underwing landing lights are added from clear parts, and a small insert is glued into the wing that includes three more barrel stubs each and will again need drilling out.  At this stage the instructions have you sliding the wings onto the spars and gluing them in place.  Whether you'd rather wait until you've added the engine nacelles though is entirely up to you though.

 

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There are of course two engine nacelles and these build up pretty much identically apart from their outer skins, which are handed to fit their respective fairings as you'd expect.  They are split vertically, and each half has internal structure moulded-in, with bulkheads added fore and aft of the gear bays, coupled with bay lip inserts that bulk out the edges and also hold captive their bay door.  This may require some clever masking and a little care during handling, but it shouldn't hold you back too much, as the hinge-points are relatively robust.  The two halves are joined together, the prominent intake on the top of the nacelle is made up from two parts, then is added to the nacelle front which is in turn glued to the rest of the nacelle, with the completed assemblies attached to the wings from the underside, as yet without their engine cowlings or props.  The engines are added later in the build, and the Twin Wasps are depicted in their entirety with both banks of pistons, push-rods, ancillaries and reduction housing at the front, plus the collector ring and exhausts at the rear, the latter made up from eight parts each.  So that they are fitted correctly and mesh properly with the nacelles, they are attached using a jig that is discarded later, so remember not to glue it in!  Again the engines are identical and interchangeable with each other, and they fit to the nacelles with a teardrop-shaped tab, after which the engine cowling is slotted over them.  The cooling flaps are last to be added in four sets around the rear of the cowling.

 

The top of the fuselage is still open at this point, as it has an insert with the top turret to fit in place, with another for the dorsal turret fitted later on.  The remote turrets are both made up together with the ability for the twin .50cals to be left movable if you wish.  The top turret has its mechanism and ring made up first, with the two halves brought together on either side of the insert before being glued into the fuselage closing up that area.  Then the gunner's compartment with simple seat and periscope is made up and installed under the glazing that sits behind the top turret.  Flipping the model over, the lower turret is added to the insert and glued in place too.  Another clear light is added to the very rear of the fuselage, and attention turns to the landing gear, which is of the tricycle variety as became the fashion in late war.  Each of the three tyres are made from two halves with separate hubs applied from either side, then hung on their respective legs, which have retraction jacks and scissor links added along the way.  Happily these can be fitted late in the build, so the open bays can be masked quicker than if they were present.  Speaking of bays, you can depict the bomb bay open or close by using either a one piece door for closed, or two separate doors with internal detail for open.  This is nice to see, as it's always a little tricky to join two doors and get them aligned with the fuselage so there's minimal join-lines.

 

The main airframe is ostensibly complete save for some antennae and the props, and if you've been sparing with the glue when assembling the engines, the latter should still spin once complete.  Your final choice is bombs, tanks or gun-packs hung under the wings.  The bombs are made up from two halves each with a spinner insert in the rear and their attachment points moulded into the port side, the gun-packs have a handed three part pod that fits around the central gun-tray, and the drop tanks are simple two-part assemblies with their attachment points moulded into the port side again.  They are all mounted on pegs, and fit into their holes that you remembered to drill in the wings before you closed them up, didn't you?

 

 

Markings

In this boxing there are three options included on the decal sheet, two in bare metal, the other in black. From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • A-26C-16DT, 553rd Bomb Sqn, 386th Bomb Group, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France, March 1945
  • A-26C-20DT, 86th Bomb Sqn, 47 Bomb Group, Grosseto, Italy Early 1945 (Overall semi gloss black)
  • A-26C-30DT, 646th Bobm Sqn, 410th Bomb Group, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France, June 1945

 

 

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The decals are printed anonymously, although they look like DecoGraph's output to my eye.  They have good registration, colour density and sharpness, and include a number of stencils that are legible with the right eyeware.

 

 

 

Conclusion

This model should make a fair few people happy.  Detail is excellent and made so much nicer by the matt surface, and there's a fair proportion of the interior included for what is bound to be a popular kit.  Smear a little filler into those light sink-marks before you get started, and no-one will know they're there.  Keep 'em coming ICM!

 

Very highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.
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Review sample courtesy of

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Very smart looking plane. I remember Don Bullock throwing it around the sky, until he pushed his luck too far.

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