Building an A-20A Havoc Pacific Strafer

“In some respects, the combat career of the Douglas A-20 was much less spectacular than that of many other bombers employed the combatants.  It was associated with no outstanding operations but remained in first-line service throughout the war;  it did not distinguish itself on any particular battlefront, but flew with equal distinction over them all.  It did as well in Russia as it did in the Pacific or the Western Desert and withal was one of the most pleasant of all combat aircraft to fly.” ..... that is how William Greene described the Douglas A-20.

The Douglas A-20 Havoc was designed and placed in service prior to WWII.  However, it remained the fastest bomber in the USAAF inventory until the Douglas A-26 Invader made its appearance late in war.  It pioneered the role of a light bomber in ground attack and interdiction ... tactics that are still used today.

The subject of this model is an early A-20A of the 89th Bomb Squadron.  The 89th arrived in Australia in early 1942 and were supplied with factory standard A-20A’s.  To adapt the A-20 to operations in the Pacific Theater, extended range fuel tanks were fitted to the forward bombay, four 0.50 cal. machine guns were added in the nose, and new bomb racks were fabricated to handle parafrag bombs.  These became the first Pacific strafers.  The modifications proved so successful, the B-25’s were also converted in a similar manner.  This led the way for both Douglas and North American to create factory versions incorporating these field modifications.

Despite the Havoc’s widespread use and success, it never seemed to make it into the spotlight ... and that same lack of recognition has followed it into scale modeling as well.  To date, the only 1/48th scale plastic model of the A-20 is the AMT kit first produced in 1994.  Over the years, the kit has been re-released under the Italeri and Revell labels.

A-20 Havoc Kits that have been issued

I chose the AMT A-20 kit, as the basis for this video series, because it allows me to bring together many of the concepts and techniques that are the purpose of my Scale Model Workshop channel.  So many of the current modeling articles and videos claiming to be “full builds” focus only on painting and weathering.  The “building” portion consists of just quickly gluing the kit together or adding a litany of premade after-market parts . The motivation and/or skills to actually create a desired result from a basic kit, or from scratch, are increasingly falling to the wayside.  So this video series is my attempt to create an example of the type of “build” report that I find most enjoyable and informative.

Episode one provides a little historical background and a brief description of the kit.  This is followed by the construction of the fuselage along with the addition of two crew figures.  The kit details for the cockpit and gunner’s station are relatively spartan and the addition of two crew figures helps to function as a guide for improving some of the interior detailing.

Building the AMT A-20 Havoc, Episode 1

In stock form, the kit seat for the pilot is located too far aft.  The image on the left shows how the seated pilot should appear in relation to the canopy framing.  The image on the right illustrates the armor protection and helps to confirm the placement of the pilot seat.

To date, I have been unsuccessful at finding definitive detailed images or drawings of the gunners compartment, so I was forced to rely on a limited number of images to put together bits and pieces to fill in around the gunner.  The flight manual image shows a single .050 cal. gun fitted to the “B” model rather than the twin 0.30 cal. guns that were standard on the A-20A.  The grotesque humor of the cartoon might explain the lack of consideration given to the moral of the gunner.

The main external features that distinguish the early “A” model are the cooling vents cut in the cowl and the single exhaust stack.

I have several pages of 89th Bomb Squadron reference photographs here