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A-20J Havoc

AMT/ERTL 1/48 A-20J Havoc Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2017 Manufacturer AMT/ERTL
Subject A-20J Havoc Scale 1/48
Kit Number 8895 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Unique subject Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) See text

First Look

A-20J Havoc
A-20J Havoc
A-20J Havoc
A-20J Havoc
A-20J Havoc

In the late 1930s, Douglas Aircraft Company developed a light bomber design for the US Army Air Corps designated Model 7. Powered by a pair of 450 horsepower engines, the Model 7 was underpowered and didn't generate any interest. When the design team swapped out the engines for a pair of 1100hp radials, the aircraft generated interest from the French, British Commonwealth, and Belgian air forces. When France fell to German forces, the bulk of the French aircraft were instead delivered to the UK as the Boston. Once the US Army Air Corps observed the significant improvement in performance with the larger engines, they also ordered the Model 7 into production as the A-20 light bomber, the P-70 night fighter, and the F-3 reconnaissance aircraft. A significant number of the A-20 production aircraft were delivered under lend-lease to the Soviet Air Force.

AMT/ERTL developed the first injection-molded kit of the A-20 Havoc in 1/48 scale back in the early 1990s. They released the A-20B/C, A-20J, A-20J and P-70 variants which have since been reissued by Italeri and even appeared in a Revell AG box at one point. This kit is the A-20J glass-nosed Havoc and is molded in light gray styrene and presented on nine parts trees plus left and right fuselage halves, and two trees of clear parts. The kit is a simple build yet offers some nice details as well. What is a bit surprising is even though this kit was designed in the 1990s, it features nicely (not overdone) scribed panel lines and it was well before the birth of the mad riveter.

Among the features on options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Usable bombardier nose interior
  • Positionable cockpit overhead hatch
  • Main spar that runs through the bomb bay and into the wings to provide solid mount and reliable wing-fuselage dihedral
  • Instructions indicate ballast required in the nose
  • Insert into bomb bay depicting four-bomb load
  • Bomb bay doors are molded closed but kit provides cut line to position doors open
  • Landing gear is positionable
  • Landing gear doors are molded closed, but kit provides cut line to position doors open
  • Weighted wheels
  • Simple engine detail though not much is visible through the (correctly) tight cowl openings
  • Optional ventral fuel cell over bomb bay doors

Decals are provided for two examples:

  • A-20J, 43-9913, 646 BS/410 BG/9 AF, 'Maxine'
  • Boston IV, 43-9136/BZ433, RAF

So obviously this AMT/ERTL kit is long out of production, but Italeri has issued this kit and others in this series periodically. This is the nicest injection-molded kit of this aircraft to date in any scale, but the award for best A-20 kit in any scale goes to the Koster Aero Enterprises 1/48 kit which is vacuformed with resin, white metal, and photo-etched parts. You can find builds of the Koster kit online and see how impressive it builds up in experienced hands.

While I'm not a big fan of vacuformed kits, I do have this Koster kit for other reasons. The Koster kit provides interior details molded separately which can be used (with some work) inside the AMT kit. Ditto for the wheels wells. The bomb bay is an open cavity in the AMT kit with the exception of the main spar and bomb insert, while the Koster kit doesn't provide an option for open bomb bay. If I want my bomb bay open, I'll have to do it the old fashioned way - scratchbuilding. Otherwise, the Koster kit can be used for a super aftermarket set for building the AMT kit.

This is one of my projects I've been collecting for and I've also acquired the Vector A-20G/J cockpit and A-20J bombardier sets.