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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby # SH72337
A-20B/C Boston with UTK-1 Turret
1:72 Scale



The Douglas A-20 Havoc was one of the most maneuverable, fast, and distinguished USAAF light bombers of World War II, and thanks to the Lend-Lease Act, A-20s were also delivered to the RAF and the Soviet Air Force.  In this review, we’ll take a look at Special Hobby’s new A-20B/C in Soviet service that was outfitted with some distinctive indigenous hardware.

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The A-20 Havoc’s origins emerged from a collaboration between aviation design luminaries Jack Northrop, Donald Douglas, and Ed Heinemann.  Their original unsuccessful 1937 design of the Model 7A twin engine light bomber was later reworked by Ed Heinemann into the Model 7B.  The second design caught the attention of the French which kick-started production originally directed towards British and French air forces.  The later A-20 designs flown by the USAAF and other allied air forces progressively improved on the early models such as the DB-7A and -7B variants.  In European service, the Havoc was varyingly christened as the “Boston.”

The A-20B and A-20C were improved versions of the DB-7B originally aimed at the USAAF.  These versions featured glass noses.  Shape and configuration of the nose represented the primary difference between the –B and the –C.  The A-20B had a stepped nose glazing while the A-20C featured a diagonal or slanted nose glass configuration.  The A-20C was an attempt to develop a standardized export version of Havoc that were produced beginning in 1941.  The –C was fitted with RF-2600-23 engines, self-sealing fuel tanks, and additional armor.  Of the 999 A-20Bs produced, 665 were delivered to the Soviet Air Force which also received a large portion of the –C production run along with the RAF in addition to significant proportions of the A-20G and –H runs as well.

The A-20 was the most numerous foreign aircraft in the Soviet bomber inventory, and the Russians had more in service than the USAAF.  They were delivered via the Alaska-Siberia ferry route, and first saw combat by mid-1942.  The Soviets were dissatisfied with the four .30-calibre Browning machine guns and replaced them with the faster-firing, 7.62mm caliber ShKAS machine guns (1,800 rounds/minute).  They also fitted the Russian-made and visually distinctive UTK-1 turret to defend against Luftwaffe attacks.  During the summer of 1942, the Bostons flew very aggressive raids against German convoys, dropping their bombs from as low as 30 feet, and predictably endured heavy losses.  Overall, Soviet pilots found the A-20 to be versatile, easy-to fly, and pleasantly overpowered.  The Russians also developed their own propeller hub covers to prevent freezing.

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Special Hobby’s A-20B/C Boston with UTK-1 Turret is a multimedia kit.  It contains 154 gray injection molded plastic parts on five sprues (31 parts are not used), 17 clear parts on two sprues, seven photoetched parts on one fret, two cast resin parts, and one decal sheet. Aviprint printed the decals for three airplanes which covers markings and the few airframe stencils worn by the Soviet A-20s.  The schemes included are:

Strengths:  This is an impressive little kit – high quality, and relatively simple-to-build. The fidelity of surface detail is excellent and subtle where it should be, particularly on the fabric-covered surfaces of the wings and tail surfaces.  The width of some of the panel lines might be a little too much for maybe a few rivet counters out there, but I’m okay with them. For an injection-molded 1:72 scale kit, the interior detail is good.  The UTK-1 turret assembly takes good advantage of the photoetch and resin detail parts.  I snipped off the fuselage and wing assembly parts and test fitting reveals very well aligned and well fitting parts.  Also, the canopy can be positioned open.  The markings are pretty cool by virtue of their unique nature – not every A-20 kit has the Soviet markings, so it is something out of the ordinary and many scale modelers such as myself are drawn to the unusual.  In particular, the nose art on the A-20B depicting a lightning bolt about to strike the fleeing German Führer’s rear end while an eagle comes in above for the kill is entertaining, and the decal for this (along with all the other decals) are all in perfect register and otherwise very nicely printed by Aviprint.

Weaknesses:  I cannot offer any really substantive critiques regarding this offering.  However, as an observation, some builders may wish to note the control surfaces are not separate positionable pieces.  I would also argue the cockpit sidewalls could be better detailed, though the instrument panel is quite nice.

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This is solidly made and well-produced multimedia kit by Special Hobby that stands as an enjoyable build of a unique subject.  It also fills in a long-vacant niche in 1:72 range of A-20 kits to finally cover the Russian version with the UTK-1 turret.  And a nice addition it is, indeed.  Out of the box, it’s a very nice A-20, but Eduard does produce a color PE set for the interior, and one might be able to adapt elements of their exterior detail set for the 1:72 MPM A-20B (since I don’t have that PE set, that possibility is up to the individual modeler to evaluate for themselves).

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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