U.S. Twelfth Air Force Douglas A-20B Havoc

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  • Last reply 6 months, 4 weeks ago
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  • David A. Thomas said 11 months ago:

    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!

  • Greg Kittinger said 11 months ago:

    Can’t wait to see it! One of my early builds was the A-20, and I also am fascinated by the aircraft. I read Wreaking Havoc a few years ago, and it was one of my favorite aviation reads: https://www.amazon.com/Wreaking-Havoc-20-Williams-Ford-University/dp/1585442895/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1508449578&sr=8-2&keywords=wreaking+havoc

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  • Tom Bebout said 11 months ago:

    Good choice, I’ve built 5 of these, the first being the A-20H which I trashed as my results were less than spectacular. You’ll have to fabricate the exhause stacks for the B model as the kit doesn’t supply any. I did mine using aluminum tubing and you can see my result on the Russian A-20B I posted on iModeler. Good luck

  • David A. Thomas said 11 months ago:

    Thanks for the book, Thomas! And I appreciate the friendly reminder about the exhausts; I’ll give your work another look.

  • Louis Gardner said 11 months ago:

    Thanks for starting this Group Build David.

    I had a school bus driver (way back when I was in Elementary school) who flew A-20’s during WW2. He always saw me getting on the school bus with some sort of WW2 Aviation themed book from the library……………. One day he told me that he was a pilot and from then on we talked about WW2 airplanes almost every day…………. His name was Mr. Gridley……………….

    Your A-20 progress may help to kick start mine back from the “shelf of doom”, where it has sat since the problem I had with the Bare Metal Foil. We are building the same plane, but mine is going to be in a natural metal Pre War finish with Red and White rudder stripes and the early stars with the red centers.

    Here’s a link to the build.


    I’ll be following along with your progress. Tom has built some excellent versions of these planes too.

    I like your choice of subject ……………….. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  • David A. Thomas said 11 months ago:

    I’ve reviewed your “shelf of doom” A-20, Lou, and I believe you are going to redeem it!

    I will post some things on my Kasserine A-20B soon. It’s a bucket list item for me!

  • Ferry Dierckxsens said 10 months, 4 weeks ago:

    Great choice David. This type of aircraft also has my intrest and there are some in my stash waiting to build in the near future. Looking forward to your postings on this one.

  • David A. Thomas said 10 months, 4 weeks ago:

    I’m plugging away as I deal with the trench warfare of midterm grades (and the nearly 200 students under my tutelage this semester in one form or another!). Hopefully the next 72 hours will see some progress I can post.

  • Louis Gardner said 10 months, 4 weeks ago:

    Hopefully this weekend will be very productive for you. Please keep us posted and good luck in the trenches. 🙂

  • David A. Thomas said 10 months, 3 weeks ago:

    OK, folks, time for a (modest) progress report.

    I started with the engines, which were the Wright R-2600 twin cyclones.

    I bought the aftermarket Quickboost kit for this, and added to it with styrene rods to increase accuracy and interest:

    Here they are after the first treatment with Mr. Color burnt iron and a dusting of Alclad aluminum:

    Now with some details filled in, black rods, silver ring, oil wash on the housing:

    Now I’m adding copper wiring, but it’s a work in progress:

    Additionally, I have started on the rear gunner’s position. The AMT kit is pretty sparse, and has nothing but back and floor–no walls. This is not acceptable for me, since I plan on having the gunnery position open, with a figure. I find it one of the more fascinating aspects of the early A-20, but I will resist the temptation to soapbox about the lack of truly advanced A-20 kits out there (I’d better get this one right first!).

    Tom Bebout (thanks, Thomas) shared some graphics with me, and from them I came up with this:

    I have to work of the other side, but first things first.

    Comments welcomed!

  • Bernard E. Hackett, Jr. said 10 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Nice rear gunners interior work! I don’t recall seeing anything on that, myself. 100% improvement on the black hole they give you.

  • Tom Bebout said 10 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Looking good, as you seem to have got the interior detail right. Glad I could help out. Now get those damn papers done so you can do important things like modeling.

  • David A. Thomas said 10 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Thanks. Tom!

  • Ferry Dierckxsens said 10 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Magnificent start. Absolutely like the engines you’re working on.

  • Louis Gardner said 10 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Excellent job with the rear gunners station. The engines turned out great too.

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