Koster Aero Enterprises 1/48 A-20G/J Havoc Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||November 2017||Manufacturer||Koster Aero Enterprises|
|Kit Number||KAE09||Primary Media||Vac, White Metal, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Interior and exterior fuselage are separate parts, excellent detailing||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Advanced||MSRP (USD)||See text|
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.
Bill Koster of Koster Aero Enterprises has designed and produced an interesting array of kits and conversions over the years, in most cases providing kits of subjects that haven't been produced in injection-molded plastic. One of these subjects was the A-20G/J Havoc in 1/48 scale, because in the late 1980s when this kit was released, there were no other options for a quarter-scale Havoc. Of course AMT/ERTL released their Havoc kits about a decade later, but that's another story.
As with his other kits, this A-20G/J kit is still the best Havoc kit in any scale. The kit is provided on three sheets of white vacuformed plastic, with details provided in resin, photo-etch, and white metal, and you'll find ample parts in all three food groups in this kit. Among the features and options provided:
- Beautifully detailed cockpit
- Photo-etched pilot restraints provided
- Positionable overhead hatch
- Beautifully detailed wheel wells
- White metal landing gear struts and details
- Resin engines with photo-etched ignition harnesses (see notes)
- Choice of gun nose (A-20G) or glass nose (A-20J)
- Detailed bombardier station
The kit provides the following subjects as decals:
- A-20G, 43-9476, 89th BS/3 BG/5 AF, 'Little Isadore'
- A-20G, 43-9492, 646 BS/410 BG/9 AF, 8U-H, 'Ruth'
- A-20J, 43-1732, 646 BS/410 BG/9 AF, 8U-A, 'Maxine IV'
- Boston IV, BZ-507, 18 Sqn, RAF
- A-20G, 18 Sqn, RAF
- Boston IV, BZ-443, 342 Sqn/2 BG, Free French AF
While the white metal and photo-etched parts are good, this kit was produced in the age of crude resin casting and the resin engines and landing gear wheels are good examples of that. Fortunately, there are some aftermarket options for both which brings the kit up to a true masterpiece.
One disadvantage many will have is finding one of these kits. At one time Koster Aero Enterprises sold his kits on eBay, but no longer. He still sells directly to the consumer, but you'll have to go old-school and write (not email) and ask for his current price list. The address is on the box art. For those of you who make the great pilgrimage to IPMS Nationals, Bill does usually have a booth set up and I believe he was at the last Nationals.