SUBJECT:A-20B/C Havoc
SCALE:1/48
MANUFACTURER:AMT/ERTL
KIT NO:8644
RELEASE DATE:1994
TIME TO COMPLETE:6.25 hours
RATING:★★★☆☆

Bottom line up front: To date, this kit is the only 1/48 Havoc on the market. Italeri and Revell have both reboxed the basic sprue contained in the original AMT/ERTL boxings, but the kit is essentially the same. That said, this kit is easier to build than other twin engine medium bombers like the Revell/Monogram B-25 and B-26, with slightly better out of the box detail, recessed panel lines, and is a great platform for the super-detailer to create something fantastic (follow along with master builder Paul Budzik as he does just that). The Revell/Monogram B-26, like the AMT Havoc is the only market of the kit in that scale, but unlike the Revell B-26 that is not a reason to contemplate avoiding the subject. As is a theme with many of the older kits reviewed here, this kit does not take an incredible amount of skill to build, and with a low parts count the Havoc would be reasonable for a newer builder. But, unlike newer Tamiya offerings, taking the kit from basic to competition level would take skill and a comfort with advanced techniques such as scratch-building and the use of aftermarket resin and photo-etch.

THE BUILD: My intent of the unvarnished feature is not to provide the reader with a comprehensive build guide but to give a quick reference of the overall quality and build-ability of the kit. To do this requires limiting myself to using only basic tools and skills. No paint, no filler, nothing hidden or corrected.

The instructions are a rather large tri fold affair printed on the front and back. The large illustrations are generally helpful with places where the builder is still left guessing or checking references.

After a review of the instructions, I decided that I am going to take the option presented by AMT of building the kit gear up. I know some builders will find this less than helpful as the landing gear are often complicated areas of the build that can be hit or miss. I figure that the rest of the kit will provide a good idea what to expect in that regard (as will the fit and design of the wheels-up option), so this choice isn’t fatal to the review. Also, I bought the kit so I get to decide how to review it.

Flash! Ahaaaaa…

My first impression of the kit was that the sprue are Jekyll and Hyde, either crisply molded with very little needed in the way of clean up (like the fuselage halves in a hard shiny grey plastic),or they looked like the molds did not seal and filled up all available space with flash.

As I began at step one, one of the first parts off the trees was a short-shot. This left me a bit confused and I found myself looking for more parts for the left control panel, as all I had was the throttle quadrant. Luckily, I was able to use the incomplete part for the purposes of this build, though I would have cursed loudly and sourced other parts or options if I were building the kit for a competition or customer.

Short-shot sidewall (left)

Attaching the cockpit tub to the front wheel well has less than positive fit, although the instructions provide some text narrative that is very helpful (basically the opening of the wheel well should be flush with the bottom of the forward bulkhead). Similarly, attaching the bomber’s seat to the bomber’s floor in step 1E was interesting and I took a guess at how it should fit to the forward floor. I think the seat is supposed to sit off of the floor, like this, but maybe it is supposed to sit on the floor? Note: If you are going to build her on her legs, you really need to contemplate where you can pack some weight into these areas of the forward assemblies.

Knowing I was building the aircraft in flight, with all doors buttoned up, I elected to leave out the assembly of the bombs. That’s it for bomb bay detail, by the way, just a rack of four bombs on a tree.

Now that you have the cockpit/bombardier’s station complete, it’s time to build the rear gunner’s station and assemble the halves. The gunner’s station is a total sum of three parts, not including the gun itself (to be installed later). I previously mentioned Paul Budzik’s Havoc build and he has almost an entire episode dedicated to remedying this issue. I couldn’t find any sort of substantial aftermarket solution to recommend either. The detail is not terrible (but not good) and the intrepid builder will need to find a way to at least fill the prominent wing root moldings that are an eyesore in the kit interior and not at all even arguably accurate. The solution here is some scratch-building and time, or, if you button up the rear compartment, you probably will not notice any of these issues anyway.

I must say that the fit of the fuselage halves with the sparse interior was relatively spot on with little in the way of fit issues or a need for filler (sanding will be required to even up the seams, obviously).

Mind the gap…

Step 4 requires taking the assembled fuselage and applying some forward glazing. As the Havoc B and C had two possible green houses for the bombardier, AMT supplies two nose halves (forward of the cockpit firewall), with different canopy glass. AMT wants you to build these as a sub assembly, then installing that assembly to the fuselage. This leaves a step that will need to be dealt with. My suggestion is to take the nose sections and attach those halves to the fuselage halves before the fuselage is joined together, then install the greenhouse glass. All that said, I was pretty impressed with the canopy fit to the nose and as unequally unimpressed with the clarity of the glass. There was some stubborn mold release agent that just did not seem to want to be removed from the plastic and the plastic was not as transparent as I would have liked though the surface detail was nice enough. Attaching the windscreen and canopy had the same good fit and troubling issues with clarity.

The fit of the of the tail assembly was very nice and will need only a modicum of clean up with the only gap requiring a touch of filler along the joint of the vertical tail to the horizontal stabilizers.

Step 7 is the carburator intakes to the wing tops, the wing tops to the wing bottoms, built around the wing spar running through the fuselage. The intake inserts will need some attention and multiple dry fit runs before they sit correctly in the wing top. At best, you will still likely need some sanding to make sure the intake inserts sit flush with every curve on the top of the wing. Once I had that sorted, I elected to attach the wing top to the fuselage sides in order to make sure there was no gap and the fit along the wing root was acceptable. After that dried, I attached the wing bottom in the same manner, working from the wing root out. The result was a pretty remarkable fit (at least remarkable to anyone who has built the Revell/Monogram B-25 or 26).

Steps 8 and 9 are dedicated to the main landing gear and engine nacelles. Given the complexity of the main gear, you are required to build it before you install the nacelle around it (if you can figure out how to build it and install it later, let me know how you did because that would be much easier).

That inboard gap though…

As I was doing my build gear up, I skipped 8 and went straight to the nacelles in 9. The nacelles are halved with one bulkhead in the rear. The detail is nonexistent. The fit, however, is acceptable and probably will just require some light sanding to unify the halves into a whole. The fit of the nacelle to the wing bottom will require some work. My solution is to first align the outboard seam, apply glue and allow that to dry. Once cured, you can bend the inboard nacelle to fit very closely in place. The engine nacelle to wing joint is tricky on any twin engine bomber I have done and I think this method will allow you to get a joint needing very little in the way of cleanup. This leaves only the joint along the back of the wing and nacelle, another consistently tricky seam. I clamped the nacelle to the wing top and applied glue. With some filler and a few swipes of a sanding stick, I think it will be alright.

with some fast acting glue, and some pressure, you can bend the insides of the nacelle’s so the gap disappears.

At this point, the “hard” part of the build is well behind you and you have a shiny grey Havoc on your work bench. Step 10 is the rear glazings, and they fit as well as the front (although the rear gun hatch was damaged on the sprue tree in my boxing, so I elected to leave it off as if it were opened – although a test fit revealed no fit issues to speak of).

Step 11 is the simple engine and cowling assembly. As simple as the assembly of these 4 parts are, they reveal a reasonable Wright Cyclone. There is no positive location for the cylinders into the cowling, but the instructions show an alignment that helps. The cowling assembly fit to the wing as well as could be expected (better than I had hoped), but the molded in detail leaves something to be desired (Quickboost to the rescue?).

Steps 12-18 are installing the wheels, gear doors, other various intakes, antenna, weapons and props. The gear and bomb bay doors come molded in one piece requiring them to be cut if any doors are to be open. Cutting them wouldn’t be an issue as you follow a prominent panel line in the doors, but the detail in all of the bays is too sparse to be taken seriously without some help. If you want to build the kit with the doors closed, I would suggest attaching some tabs to the surrounding plastic to support the doors. Otherwise you are left trying to fit a piece of plastic into a hole that roughly matches the shape of the plastic you have. The end result looks a bit messy here but could be cleaned up with some time filling, sanding and scribing.

In sum, this is a fun build with some major room for improvement in the detail department. For a twin engine medium bomber, construction and fit are relatively straight forward and easy. The worst part, for me, was trimming flash from some of the parts and the fact that I don’t particularly like working with the hard, brittle, shiny grey plastic it is molded in. Its a nice enough kit that I plan on revisiting it and building the gun nose “G” model.