Douglas A-20J / Boston Mk. IV by MPM

Kit No. 72549
1/72 scale
Cost: $39.00
Decals: 4 versions (1 Free French, 3 Royal Air Force)
Comments: Completely new tooling with engraved panel lines

History

The Douglas Boston Mk. IV, also known as the A-20J, was based on the A-20G medium attack bomber, and the development of the two types was closely intertwined. The G converted from the Plexiglas nose of the earlier versions to an all-metal nose bristling with guns. The Douglas A-20G was the first version of the A-20 mass produced for the U.S. Army Air Force (prior versions had mostly shipped out to Britain and the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease Act), and was initially fitted with an all metal nose which carried four M1 20mm cannon and two .50 caliber machine guns. The gunship version eliminated the bombardier’s position, reducing the A-20G’s crew to two. While the type seemed promising, the 20mm guns tended to jam, and their additional weight hampered the A-20’s performance, so the USAAF was not interested initially. 250 of the first A-20G’s were given to the Soviets under Lend-Lease, who had shown great interest in the type after successfully operating earlier versions. Subsequent versions, from the A-20G-20 on, had six nose-mounted .50 caliber guns, and no 20mm cannon.

The A-20J returned to the Plexiglas nose, but it was modified so that it had almost no frame, providing far greater visibility. The J also restored the third crew member, the navigator/bombardier, and was employed in the European Theatre as a formation leader for A-20G’s. Some J versions benefitted from the more powerful R-2600-9 engines, developed in response to the increased weight of the gun-nosed G series. In the European Theatre, A-20J’s were mostly used from bases in England, but also saw action over Sicily and Italy with the R.A.F. under the designation Boston Mk. IV. These aircraft also served with the RAAF, the Free French 342nd “Lorraine” Squadron, the USSR, and Brazil, the last of which flew the type up until the 1950’s.

The Kit

MPM has set a new standard with its Boston Mk. IV/V, the British Royal Air Force designation for the Douglas A-20J. This superb kit is a long-awaited offering featuring all new tooling, including engraved panel lines and interior detail. The only other A-20 in 1/72 scale is the Airfix Boston, which first appeared in 1963 and reappeared just a few years later under the Revell label. While the Airfix and Revell kits can still be found, neither are very detailed and are crude by modern standards.  Editor’s Note: A notable omission from the text above is the Matchbox kit of the A-20G/Boston IV, which dates back at least to 1983, bears rather heavy engraved panel lines, and includes decals for either the gun-nosed “Green Hornet” or the same markings for the Free French 342nd “Lorraine” squadron as are provided in the MPM kit. This notable contribution to the 1/72 universe of A-20 kits is unfortunately long out of production.

MPM’s Boston kit comes in two resealable clear plastic bags and consists of 102 injection molded parts featuring engraved panel lines, a detailed cockpit, bombardier’s position, gun turret, and engines, right down to individually mounted exhaust vents on the cowlings and detailed illustrations for positioning them. There are also detailed landing gear and a faithfully recreated long, narrow overhead hatch for entry into the A-20’s trademark single-seat cockpit, which may have been unique among twin-engine bombers.

Decals

The Boston has an excellent set of decals by Aviprint. There are markings for four versions: the 342nd Free French “Lorraine” Squadron, based at Vitry le Francois, France, October 1944; and three Royal Air Force versions: BZ507 of No. 18 Squadron, Italy, 1944; BZ611 of No. 13 Squadron, Italy, 1945; and BZ604 of No. 18 Squadron, Italy, 1945.

Conclusion

This is an excellent kit addressing a decades-old deficiency in 1/72 scale offerings: a newly tooled A-20 attack bomber. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: