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1:32 Douglas A-26 Invader from Trumpeter/Hobbyboss?


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Posted (edited)

And yet another update... Please, let me know if I get too wild.

 

I checked the production blocks and serial numbers of early A-26B's. For me the most challenging modification would be the later style bubble canopy so I am focusing on the flat style canopy versions. So, now, which serial numbers could be built with relative ease with the Hobby Boss kit? Here is my summary:

  • The first 500 production A-26B's up to the production block A-26B-40-DL were built at the Long Beach factory and the bubble canopy was introduced already with the block A-26B-30-DL. The Long Beach factory had the 'DL' ending of the production block (D: Douglas, L: Long Beach). During the whole Douglas A-26 Invader production 205 A-26B's were produced also at the Tulsa factory and their block numbers end with 'DT'. At the Tulsa factory they started with A-26B-5-DT, i.e., with one of the flat canopy versions. Only prototypes were produced at the El Segundo factory and they had the 'DE' block number ending.
  • There were 450 flat canopy A-26B's produced in total but the first 35 had some really interesting nose gun trial arrangements, which means scratch building if you want to build any of those.
    • The first production block A-26B-1-DL (5 aircraft, s/n 41-39100 to 41-39104, c/n 6813 to 6817) had the same nose armament as the prototype, i.e, one 75 mm cannon plus the turrets.
    • The next production block A-26B-5-DL and A-26B-5-DT planes (30 aircraft in total, 15 aircraft from Long Beach: s/n 41-39105 to 41-39119, c/n 6818 to 6832, 15 aircraft from Tulsa: s/n 43-22252 to 43-22266, c/n 18399 to 18413) were armed with 1 × 75 mm cannon on the right side of the nose and 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns on the left and 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each of the turrets.
    • So for these first 35 planes you should modify the nose for the 75 mm cannon and scratch build the cannon. Not that difficult but still some extra work.
  • A new all-purpose nose was installed beginning with the A-26B-10-DL (55 aircraft, 20 aircraft from Long Beach: s/n 41-39120 to 41-39139, c/n 6833 to 6852, 35 aircraft from Tulsa: s/n 43-22267 to 43-22301, c/n 18414 to 18448). They had 6 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in the nose and 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each of the turrets. This is quite easy to build with the Hobby Boss kit because all the needed guns are included.
  • Next blocks A-26B-15 through A-26B-25 (360 aircraft, Long Beach: s/n 41-39140 to 41-39349, c/n 6853 to 7062, Tulsa: s/n 43-22302 to 43-22466, c/n 18449 to 18613) had 8 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in the nose, 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each of the turrets and 4 additional gun packs mounted on the underwing hard points, each with 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns. This is the most straightforward build with no modifications needed for the nose section. I also found a mention that this 8-gun-nose may have been retrofitted to some earlier planes as a field modification.
  • Some planes had an exit hatch on the right hand side of the gunner position. Again, check your references. The kit has that hatch molded with panel lines and a clear window. If your plane did not have that, you can just fill the panel lines, paint over the window and copy the internal structure from the left half of the fuselage interior.
  • All the flat canopy A-26B's had the lower turret installed at the factory. Only with the later bubble canopy aircraft destined for service in the Pacific (-51-DL, -56-DL, -61-DL, and -66-DL), the lower turret was replaced by a 125-US gallon auxiliary tank for extra range. There are mentions that the lower turret may have been removed from some aircraft because of increased drag and to improve the center of gravity. Also during low level missions the lower turret was considered useless. So again, check your references and you may find some flat canopy A-26B's without the lower turret which makes the kit modification easier. However, as I said in my earlier post, I am planning to make a resin part for the lower fuselage and that will add the missing lower turret. To me this is easier than trying to replace the clear flat style canopy of the kit with a home-made bubble canopy.

 

By the way, if anyone needs the exact block number, production site, serial number or construction number of a certain plane, I can help with that. I combined information from a few sources and made an Excel sheet with all the produced Douglas A-26B Invaders. Just let me know. Or just check https://www.abcdlist.nl/main.html - they have a very accurate list of all Douglas aircraft.

Edited by Lietsalmi
Correction based on better sources
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Posted (edited)

This time I would like to take focus on the kit decals. Printing looks good and colors are well in register. So technically good quality. But stencils are missing and the selected aircraft are not suitable for the kit parts without modifications.

 

Here are the selected aircraft:

  • Douglas A-26B-15-DT, s/n 43-22337, c/n 18484, Douglas Fuselage Number 86
    • Produced in Tulsa, OK and delivered to USAAF in Aug-Sep 1944. Served in 416th Bomb Group, 670th Bomb Squadron in Base A-55 in Melun/Villaroche, France. During the mission # 201 on Friday, Feb 9, 1945 with Henry W. Borman and Raphael J. Perujo as the flight crew, the aircraft was flying as the # 5 ship in the Flight III of the Box I in a 42 aircraft mission and it bombed Scherfede, Germany at 3:03pm in a cloudy weather from an altitude of 12,500 feet. After that the aircraft failed to return to its base and was force landed on the alternative landing field B-75 because of shortage of fuel. The nose wheel tire blew out and the aircraft ran off the end of the runway. Neither of the crew members were injured.
    • I was not able to find any photos of the plane but I gathered some information about other similar aircraft of the same production block and the same Bomb Squadron. Based on that information it seems that there are a few modifications needed:
      • The nose should have 6 guns instead of 8. The lower turret, upper periscope, nose pitot tube and the left side slanted antenna behind the cockpit need to be added. This block had a loop antenna instead of the 'football' antenna of the kit. The extra belly vent/antenna should not be used. And the cockpit should be modified for one pilot only. Underwing gun packs may possibly be used as well.
    • Painting: The instructions are correct, except that olive drab on the engine cowlings should go all the way down to cover the plane-side half of the cowlings. Also the black area on the rudder should be narrower.
    • Markings: The kit identification code '24-D' is most likely wrong. For this Bomb Squadron all the Invaders used 'F6' as the first part of the code and, if the letter 'D' was correct for this plane, the code should be 'F6-D' painted in black around the US insignia, 'F6' in forward of the insignia and 'D' in the tail. 'F6' should be with higher letters than '24' on the kit decals. Not a difficult job to mask and paint. Here is a picture of an A-26B-20-DL model of the same Bomb Squadron:
      FB_41-39222.jpg
  • Douglas A-26B-61-DL, s/n 44-34575, c/n 27854
    • This -61-block B-model was originally produced for the Pacific theatre so the lower turret was replaced by a 125-US gallon auxiliary tank for extra range. The plane was designated as a B-26B and sold to France Air Force (Armee de l'Air) in 1951 where it got the registry number BC-575 and the plane code 'Q'. In the 1950's the aircraft served in French Indochina with the unit GB 1/19 'Gascogne' in Tourane and later with the plane code 'D' with the unit GB 1/25 'Tunisie' in Cat Bi. The plane was finally broken up.
      douglas-a-26-invader-007-jpg.131488
      Please, notice the 'football' antenna on the belly.
      21_15.jpg21_15_b1.jpg
      Note: These drawings mistakenly mention this aircraft as a block 60 model and also the first drawing mistakenly shows the lower turret that this plane did not have.
    • Modifications needed:
      • Replace the flat canopy of the kit with a bubble canopy (vacform? resin?). Move the 'football' antenna to the belly side and paint it black. Don't use the belly vent/antenna. Add the upper periscope. Insert 3 x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns to each wing (wing mounted guns, not in underwing gun packs). Add hard points for rockets. And the cockpit should be modified for one pilot only.
    • Painting: Kit painting instructions look correct. Only the olive drab on the nose should go a bit further to the nose and not so wide. Please, see the above photo for clarification.
    • Markings: Markings show the plane in Tourane, French Indochina in 1951. Again, markings look right. The only confusing part is that decals have the unit insignia but it is not mentioned on the instructions. Just look at the drawing above for the insignia placement.
    • All in all, if only there was the bubble canopy available as an after market part, this version would be the easiest one to build. And with an interesting history.
  • Douglas A-26B civil version (On Mark Marketeer), s/n 44-34765, c/n 28044
    • Delivered to Reconstruction Finance Corp. as 44-34765 and immediately put up for disposal in 1945. Sperry Gyroscope Co, Great Neck, NY registered as N67160 and used it in 1954-1964.
      xxxa26_0002.jpg
      R.C. Johnson, Las Vegas, NV bought it in 1966. After that International Commercial Aviation Service based at the Kennedy International Airport, NY bought it and used it in 1969-1970. Then in August 1970 the plane was sold to Germany to W. Rall in Munich and at that time it was registered as D-CAFY. It was impounded and parked in open at the Antwerp Airport in 1972-1974. Since 1976 it has been restored and on display for the Musee Royal de l'Armee in Brussels, nowadays the Brussels Air Museum. The plane has been painted to represent a fictional war bird 'Mission Completed', aircraft code 'AN-J'.
      640px-Douglas_A-26B_Invader_%E2%80%98434
    • During the plane's history there was an interesting episode of lobster business that this plane had a part of. The aircraft was leased by Antwerpe Kreesten Central, which housed lobsters imported from all over Europe. Since transportation costs were also part of the price per lobster, it was decided in 1968 to transport lobsters from Europe to Antwerp using the company's own transport. The aircraft was leased in December 1968 and registered D-CAFY. In 1969, the company started with lobster flights between Turkey and France and Antwerp. At the end of 1969, it was parked at Antwerp for so long, that it was chained for failure to pay landing and parking fees. After many years the aircraft was donated to the Brussels Air Museum.
      a263.jpg
    • Modifications: This is not a war bird but a museum piece painted to look like a fictional war bird. If that is what you want to build, then you just need to replace the flat style canopy with a bubble canopy (vacform? resin?) and that's it! No need to add the lower turret or upper periscope because this plane does not have those. Also the cockpit for the civil versions had dual controls like with the kit.
    • Painting: All is well here except with the cowlings and the spinner heads that should be blue (see above). Also the 'football' antenna should be black instead of silver like in the instructions.
    • Markings: The kit decals have the aircraft code 'A-J' so there is one 'N' missing. Ahead of the US insignia there should be 'AN'. Masking and painting the code would probably be the easiest solution.

Conclusion? Because I would go with the flat style canopy the only option of all these versions would be the first one, 43-22337. But it looks too plain to my taste (no nose art at all) and there are no photos to verify that the painting and markings would be correct. But that plane is my recommendation if you want to use the kit decals. If there is an after market bubble canopy available in the future then the French 44-34575 would be really interesting and easy to build. For now, I am counting on my own laser printed decals and possibly after market decals if they are available soon.

Edited by Lietsalmi
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For those willing to find a little bit of documentation, there are not tons of A-26 books. The most common ones are the three(!) In Action booklets published by Squadron Signal as well as one in their Walkaround series. There is also a quite good Warbird Tech book. Besides that, the references for US planes are not that numerous. For some weird reasons, it is easier to find good books dedicated to foreign users!

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1 hour ago, petrov27 said:

anyone know if the ID/Tigger vac had the bubble canopy with it? Or the clear nose option?

 

 

alas, no bubble (clamshell) canopy, just the straight one like the HB offering, but is does have the clear nose option, and also gun nose version.

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1 hour ago, Jack said:

 

alas, no bubble (clamshell) canopy, just the straight one like the HB offering, but is does have the clear nose option, and also gun nose version.

 

bummer on that - was hoping maybe a way to use the vac parts with this new kit.

 

I guess wait and see if the next release has that canopy and it is mostly accurate or if aftermarket comes to the rescue but not sure there is much chance of that.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, petrov27 said:

 

bummer on that - was hoping maybe a way to use the vac parts with this new kit.

 

I guess wait and see if the next release has that canopy and it is mostly accurate or if aftermarket comes to the rescue but not sure there is much chance of that.

My best bet would be Aerocraft. What I have seen, e.g., from Nigel's review of the P-51D resin canopy made by Aerocraft, they should have the knowledge to create really first-class resin canopies. And I do have several of their brass and resin sets and they are really world class. Even though I am ok with casting resin, I do not dare to try to make clear canopies myself. Could we somehow make a kind plea to Aerocraft and ask them to create correct canopies for us ordinary mortals?

Edited by Lietsalmi
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On 6/5/2020 at 8:01 PM, Lietsalmi said:

My best bet would be Aerocraft. What I have seen, e.g., from Nigel's review of the P-51D resin canopy made by Aerocraft, they should have the knowledge to create really first-class resin canopies. And I do have several of their brass and resin sets and they are really world class. Even though I am ok with casting resin, I do not dare to try to make clear canopies myself. Could we somehow make a kind plea to Aerocraft and ask them to create correct canopies for us ordinary mortals?

I have been watching this thread with interest, I have a kit on the way, it should be here with me in the next week or so.

I have some ideas For replacement parts, either upgrades and conversions, possibly even up to doing the K but we will have to see. I am sure that Hobby Boss will release the glass nose as we have send that on there pictures.

i am willing also to do new clear canopy parts for versions and corrections, but just remember NOTHING will be a quick overnight fix. I have a day job and this venture is all in my spare time, but the more accurate and detailed information that I can get to specific areas one at a time I can work on those parts.

i have made other offers for other clear parts for other subjects this morning so we will just have to see.

please PM me if you are wanting to assist in any way, and or even to produce more elaborate conversions like the K.

 

Just as aside I still do intend to get turrets out for theB-24 and also the Hellcat -3 conversion in 1/24, but more of that later as I do not want to drift this thread.......

 

cheers Ali

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7 hours ago, Ali62 said:

i am willing also to do new clear canopy parts for versions and corrections, but just remember NOTHING will be a quick overnight fix. I have a day job and this venture is all in my spare time, but the more accurate and detailed information that I can get to specific areas one at a time I can work on those parts.

i have made other offers for other clear parts for other subjects this morning so we will just have to see.

please PM me if you are wanting to assist in any way, and or even to produce more elaborate conversions like the K.

This is great! I will PM you.

Now, I started to look a bit deeper to the canopy issue. Originally I thought that there were two kind of canopies: the earlier flat style front opening canopy and the later bubble style clamshell canopy. Like it shows here:
candev.jpg

Now, I started to look for a good aircraft to model and, since I found quite a few pictures and a color film footage about 41-39250 'Dottie Mae' (A-26B-20-DL), I thought that I will build that. BUT THAT PLANE HAS A THIRD STYLE CANOPY! This one is kind of an interim canopy model between the earlier flat canopy and the later bubble canopy. It is flat and only the right side opens and it opens forward but the lower corners of the windscreen are more rounded than with the earlier windscreen and the left side window does not have the heavy framing. See examples here:
CarrotTop.jpg

DB_Disagreeable.jpgDouglas_A-26B_in_flight.jpg

You can easily see that the canopy is flat but the heavy framing is missing. Some of the aircraft had some kind of a windscreen vent in left front of the pilot (see 'Carrot Top' above and the cockpit photo in my earlier post). I have now found numerous photos about this 'interim' canopy and it even seems that it was more common in the European theatre with -15 and -20 blocks. In fact, it is quite difficult to find war time photos about the early flat style canopy. So did the early flat style canopy even exist? Oh, yes! See here:
a26-8a.jpg

 

Now I understand how Hobby Boss got themselves so mixed up with the canopy. If you just read the sources, they talk about two kind of canopies. Hobby Boss probably saw similar pictures as that of 'Carrot Top' and thought that this must be the bubble canopy needed for the French Air Force and museum planes. And then if you compare those photos with some drawn sketches, you might come to a conclusion that the later canopy was flat with fewer frames than the earlier canopy. And thus the 'Hobby Boss canopy'.

 

Tonight I took a much closer look at the kit clear parts. The windscreen indeed has framing of the later bubble canopy but is too low for that. So for both flat style canopies sanding and re-framing is needed. But the good news is that the side windows are clear without heavy framing so it is quite easy to make the 'interim' canopy with that as well.

 

So, Ali, I will PM you with further information.

 

A few other points about the clear parts:

  • All the canopy parts and very clear. There is some distortion but not much. So overall good quality.
  • Gunner top glazing is also very clear. Heavily rounded corners do have more optical distortion but, again, good quality. However, the top periscope should have a recessed area in the glazing but there is just a flat panel instead. Those who dare may want to drill a hole for the periscope and build the recessed area for it. For many just adding the missing top periscope will do. Gunner top windows also seem to be too narrow with too heavy framing but it is something that most people wouldn't notice.
    norightclick-3.jpg.w300h202.jpg
  • The gunner side window and escape hatch are missing from most early planes. In fact, I watched a few hours of history footages and I couldn't find a single war bird with that side window. So check your references carefully.
  • Underwing landing lights are really nice! They are both made of two clear parts: the dome for the light and the round glass. You can make really convincing landing lights with these.
  • Navigation lights are very good and make you believe that there is an actual light bulb behind the clear part.
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Much has been said about how the top of the fuselage of this model is too rounded.  As I sit here looking at my 1/48 PBJ, I wonder how closely the shape of the fuselage center section of the Invader mirrors the shape of the B-25 center section?  Both are products of North American Aviation after all and, to me, they are more similar than not.   If it's pretty close, especially along the top, then that may open an avenue for some creative type to come up with an easy/easier correction to the Invader kit, assuming the extant 1/32 B-25 kit is at all accurate. 

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