This black and white field pic pretty much tells the story of why I am pursuing this project. When I was a kid this iconic photo of three A-20s flying low over the North African desert captured my imagination, and I’ve been in love with the Havoc ever since. In particular, I love the open-air rear gunner’s position as opposed to the later turret versions. The more I learn about the plane, the more that affair of the heart is confirmed.
Designed by the legendary Ed Heinemann (designer of the SBD Dauntless and, later, the Skyraider aka “Spad”) and others, the A-20 went through various iterations early in the war, and even more after the U.S. became embroiled in the hostilities. I’m sure some will argue the point, but in my view no other bomber in the U.S. air fleet was used in so many different roles (medium bomber, light bomber, fighter-bomber, night fighter, land and maritime operations, etc.), and was issued with so many physical variants. Among the other early fleet bombers (B-17, B-24, B-25, B-26), only Heinemann’s A-26—intended at the A-20’s successor—was faster (the late B-29 beat them all). On perhaps a more viscerally romantic note, I also think the name stands out: U.S. aircraft (both fighters and bombers) seemed to be named for their intrepidity (“Flying [or ‘Super’] Fortress”, “Dauntless”); for a fierce animal (“Warhawk,” “Mustang,” “Wildcat,” “Hellcat”) or tough persona (“Corsair”); for threatening weather (“Lightning,” “Thunderbolt”); or as one who brings harm (“Devastator,” “Marauder,” “Avenger”) or good (“Liberator”) through its mission. Yet the “Havoc” is the only title I can think of that simply expresses what the enemy himself is left with after a visit from this airplane. (Only the B-25 is named for a war hero, perhaps fittingly given Billy Mitchell’s unique role in pioneering the American military’s air arm.)
I’ve never built a Havoc. As a kid, I stuck mostly to the cheap Monogram kits, and they never produced a Havoc. I’m a bit miffed that Tamiya doesn’t have one in my favorite scale (1:48), considering all the other esoteric stuff they’ve produced. But I am satisfied just the same to pursue the build with the AMT kit. I have an aftermarket cockpit, engines, and control surfaces, and have pirated some figurines from other kits as I am wont to do in order to recreate the Havoc in flight. I plan on building the A-20B of the 12th Air Force, 47th Bomb Group, 86th Bomber Squadron, Serial Number 41-3141, based at Youks-les-Baines, Algeria when Kasserine Pass went down.
Wish me luck!