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DB-8A/3N ‘Outnumbered and Fearless’ (SH72465) 1:72


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DB-8A/3N ‘Outnumbered and Fearless’ (SH72465)

1:72 Special Hobby




Designed and developed by Northrop as the A-17, the aircraft was a ground-attack type that initially had fixed gear, but was later given more modern retractable undercarriage to improve aerodynamics.  Powered by a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engine, it had a crew of two and could carry up to a ton of bombs in a small vertical bomb bay, and on a pair of racks under the centre wing section.  They were built in small numbers for various customers, with fewer than 400 made in total, the US Army Air Corps. taking delivery of the initial batch, and a number of foreign operators including the French, although their airframes were diverted to other customers after the fall of France.  By this time Northrop had been taken over by Douglas, hence the D at the beginning of the aircraft’s designation.


The Netherlands took delivery of eighteen airframes that were designated DB-8A/3N with a more powerful 1,100hp R-1830 engine, but the British assessment of the type as “obsolete” was pretty much on the mark.  In Dutch service they were pressed into service as a fighter aircraft despite being poorly suited to that role, but in the absence of better options, the pilots were forced to make the best of it, fighting bravely against the Nazi invaders.  When the invasion began, a squadron were on duty, and all but one managed to get off the ground to face the enemy.  Most of them were shot down by the more agile Bf.110s and Bf.109s, although they did manage to shoot down a few transport aircraft of the enemy before a few returned to base, where the remaining aircraft were rendered unusable by further attacks by the enemy.  Their numbers were effectively reduced to zero by the end of the first day, with the Netherlands being completely over-run a few days later, on the 14th of May 1940.  The Germans took an airworthy airframe, probably from the stored aircraft, repainted it with German markings and assessed it after transporting it back to their homeland.  The very last A-17 was struck off charge in the US in 1945, after a short career as a coastal patrol hack.



The Kit

This is a reboxing of a kit from the Special Hobby stable from the early 2000s, as is evidenced by the shiny surface area of the external parts, and time has been kind to the moulds, with little in the way of flash, and two pairs of fuselage halves, engines and cowlings showing that there have been other versions in previous boxings, although the fixed, spatted wheels of the initial A-17A aren’t present.  The kit arrives in a top-opening, blue/white/grey themed box, and inside are two sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue in a separate Ziploc bag, a large resin belly insert in another Ziploc bag, the decals and Photo-Etch (PE) in a re-sealable clear foil bag, and the instruction booklet, printed in colour on glossy paper in portrait A5 format, stapled down the spine.  The sprue diagrams on the inner front cover have red Xs on parts that aren’t used in this boxing, although the two fuselage halves aren’t even present on the diagram, possibly due to a lack of space on the page.















Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with the seat, which has an inverted-U support added to the rear, and PE seatbelts over the pilot’s lap.  The front cockpit is separated from the rear, and this flat rectangular part has a rear bulkhead, control column and a small instrument package on the floor in front of it.  The rear cockpit consists of a tapering floor, and a trough in the rear of the area with half bulkhead and a rack of boxes fitted to the front.  This and another box are inserted into the rear cockpit and are joined by the rear gun on a semi-circular pivot, showing the correct orientation that includes the instrument panel with decal at the front, all from the side with arrows showing their part numbers.  The gunner’s seat also has a pair of lap belts, and it is dropped into position in the rear, separated from the pilot by a curved cowling, which is installed as the fuselage halves are joined together, creating two separate openings for the crew.  Once the glue has cured and the seams are dealt with, the centre section of the lower wing with its smoothly dished wheel bays and perforated dive flaps moulded-in.  The open space between these features is covered over with the resin insert that depicts the bomb racks and aerodynamic fairing that extends around the rear of the gear bay cut-outs.




The upper wings are full-span, and fix to the visible portion of the centre lower section, and are completed by the outer lower panel, giving a strong, overlapping joint to the wings.  The elevators however, are butt-joints and would benefit from being pinned in position with some brass rod, which should be relatively easy because each elevator is a single part.  A small square insert slots into the leading edges of the root once the glue has cured.  The engine is next to be installed, having been built up earlier in the instructions.  The Twin Wasp engine is moulded as a single, well-detailed part that depicts the front of the engine, and is trapped on a ledge in between the two cowling halves after painting the interior aluminium.  It plugs directly into the tapered flat front of the fuselage, and has an intake added to the top of the cowling as it rolls down toward the lip.  The canopy is a single part, and is glued over the two crew stations and the separating fairing, adding a tubular gun sight on the deck in front of the cockpit, and a tall aerial is later fixed to the centre of the canopy.


Under the fuselage, two exhaust stacks project from the cowling sides, and an intake is added into the gap between the gear bays.  Further back, the bomb racks each have eight triangular shackles fitted into shallow grooves in the resin, then it is time to build the landing gear.  The main struts are inserted into holes in the outer end of the bays, and the two-part wheels are fitted to the short axles perpendicular to the strut, while the tail wheel is attached to the yoke in the rear, with a single wheel part slotting onto the axle.  While the model is inverted, the clear window and fairing under the gunner’s area is attached to the fuselage, leaving the centre section clear, but it would be sensible to paint the interior with the blackest black you have to hide the fact that the window goes nowhere.  The last job is to fit the three-blade prop that is moulded as one part, with the optional spinner that is used on three of the four decal options, the four gun barrels in the leading edge of both wings, and the pitot probe in the port wingtip.  A tiny part is also fitted to the starboard fuselage side behind the engine cowling.


A rigging diagram shows three wires in total, two of which lead to the wings just in front of the ailerons, and a third that leads from the starboard wire to the base of the aerial mast, leading back to the radio in the cockpit.




There are four options on the decal sheet, three in service of the Dutch Air Force, one in captivity following the fall of the Netherlands.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • No.390 (C/N 540), 3_V-2 Luchtvaart Regiment, Militaire Luchtvaart, 1940, responsible for shooting down two Ju-52 transports before being shot down.
  • No.382 (C/N 532), 3-V-2 Luchtvaart Regiment, Militaire Luchtvaart, 1939
  • No.382 (C/N 532), 3-V-2 Luchtvaart Regiment, Militaire Luchtvaart, 1940, responsible for shooting down a Ju-52 transport before being shot down.
  • KK+UI ex-No.394 (C/N 544) Captured by the Nazis & tested at Erprobungsstelle Reichlin, Germany in June 1940.






The Orange Triangles with black outlines were painted after delivery to indicate that the Dutch machines were neutral, as the original roundels that were applied by Douglas at the factory could have been mistaken for British or French roundels.  Not that the Nazis cared in the end.


The decals appear to be printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film.  It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain.




Not a well-known aircraft type, but this boxing pays homage to the brave Dutch pilots that took to the air knowing they were both outnumbered and flying an out-dated machine, probably to their doom.  Outnumbered and Fearless sums it up well.  Detail is good, and the application of some modelling skill should result in an attractive replica of this aircraft.


Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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