MPM 1/72 A-17A Ground Attack Aircraft
The Northrop A-17 was developed from the Gamma 2F cargo aircraft. It was built in 1935 to meet an Army requirement for a ground attack aircraft, and entered service in 1936. In WW2, it was used by the USAAF exclusively as a coastal patrol plane on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. In British service, it was known as the Nomad. It was exported to Argentina, Peru, Sweden, the Netherlands, Iraq, Norway, Great Britain, South Africa, and Canada. There were two main versions of the plane, the A-17 which had fixed gear, and the A-17A which had retractable gear.
My last two models were fairly demanding builds, so I was looking for something quick and easy to do before I started my next more demanding model. This model has been in my stash for many years, and I have wanted to build it for a while. MPM released this kit, along with a kit of the fixed-gear A-17, in 2002. I don't do a lot of 1/72 because my eyes aren't what they used to be, and I never do natural metal finishes, but I figured I could power through this little kit. Even though this is a short run kit, I have read reviews that said that this was one of MPMs better kits. I ordered some canopy masks and decals for the kit, and off I went. The interior was fairly sparse, so I added some details to the interior, along with some seatbelts using masking tape. The kit went together easily and needed very little filler or sanding.
This is where my poor decisions started:
- I wanted to polish the inside of the canopy before I glued it to the plane, so I used my fingers and a cloth instead of using something that actually fit inside the canopy. I managed to crack the canopy right down the middle. I fixed it using some Looks Like Glass.
- I never do natural metal finishes, so the question of what to use quickly came up. I was in a hurry, so I decided to use Airfix Silver from a spray can. I had used it before and had really good results, but this would be the first time I used it on a whole airplane. I wanted to mist the paint on, so I was spraying the paint from about 18 inches. It was 102 degrees outside in the Texas heat, and only a few degrees cooler in my garage. Apparently the paint was drying before it actually landed on the plane, resulting in a very pebbly surface. No problem. I decided to put the second layer on nice and thick to fill in the surface. Bad idea.
- I did some light sanding on the silver and managed to make it look somewhat better. I sprayed a layer of clear gloss and got ready for the decals. When I looked at the decals, I discovered they were for an A-17 rather than and A-17A, so I decided to use the 25 year old kit decals. As it turned out, they performed perfectly.
I sealed the decals with some semi-gloss clear and added all of the small bits. I was planning to add an antenna wire, but the photos I had of the A-17A in the Air Force Museum didn't seem to have the antenna wire. Problem solved. In the end, I think it came out OK. The natural metal finish looks more like metallic paint than a natural metal surface, but after all of the problems I think I can live with it.