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 Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)

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Kyushu J7W


Posts : 192
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)   Sun Feb 19 2017, 17:30

I found this model in the dump bin at the small UML hobby shop in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on one of my last trips.   The box was in great condition and it was still sealed with the factory tape on the box sides but not shrink wrapped.   Art work is great IMO .  It had been there on prior visits and while I wanted an A-20 I thought this was an interesting variant and for the price I could not pass it up.      It was during the time when Dragon and Fine Molds  were starting to disappear from the shelves, as were aircraft models in general after diecast was relegated to the upper out of reach storage racks.     Italeri must have their contract  factory near by or their kits were being produced by the same outfit that pumped out the Dragon &/or Tamiya products.  They were more often than not the second most presented for sale kits in many hobby shops after Dragon started exiting.  I did not see a lot of movement of Italeri kits however,they were pricey in Hong Kong, so they were often in the dump bin.  

Data from scalemates web page.

Brand: Italeri
Product name: Douglas P-70 A/S
Product number: 2724
Scale: 1:48
Type: Full kit
Includes: Plastic sprues, Waterslide decals, Clear parts
Released: 2013 | Rebox (Updated/New parts)

What I find interesting now is that many kits show an official licensed marking on the boxes.   I guess it was not enough that as taxpayers we paid for the planes design and construction. The producers still want to draw money years later.  Opinions?

The P-70 actually saw some combat action in the Pacific Theatre, although their service there was quite brief. The 6th Night Fighter Squadron began operations in February of 1943 with its P-70s from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, in an attempt to intercept high-flying Japanese night raiders. It was later supplanted by the 419th Night Fighter Squadron. The 418th and 421st Night Fighter Squadrons flew P-70s operationally in New Guinea for a brief time. The P-70 was not very successful in combat, scoring three kills during the entire war. The P-70 lacked sufficient performance to intercept Japanese night raiders unless it was extremely fortunate. P-70s were replaced with P-61s just as soon as these aircraft would be made available.

The kit is packaged in three plastic bags that fit easily in the  oversized box.  The instructions and decals are loose in the box.    

There are about 86 gray & clear plastic parts in the kit on 4 sprues and one sprue with clear plastic canopy and lights.  Some parts are marked not needed as they would go on the bomber variant.  

The Douglas DB-7/A-20 Boston/Havoc was one of the most popular and effective light bombers of the Second World War. A total of 7478 of these bombers were built, and they served with the USAAF under the designation A-20 and with the RAF under the designation *Boston*. However, it is a little-known fact that there were night fighter versions of this attack plane which served with the RAF under the name *Havoc* and with the USAAF under the designation P-70.

The initial USAAC order for the DB-7 had been for 63 A-20s. They were to be powered by turbosupercharged Wright R-2600-7 radials, and were to have been high-altitude light bombers. However, these engines developed cooling problems and troubles were encountered with the turbosuperchargers. In the event, only the fifteenth aircraft (39-735) was actually fitted with the supercharged R-2600-7 engine. Since it was felt that there was no need for higher power at high altitudes for an aircraft which was meant to perform at its best at low and medium altitudes, all other A-20s were converted to A-20A configuration with 1600 hp Wright R-2600-11 engines without superchargers.

The XP-70

   The parts are crisp, no real flash to speak of with a slightly heavier attachment to the sprue in a few cases that will reguire a bit of trimming and sanding.   Panel lines and hatches are evident but there is  little rivet detail to speak of.  

   It has some  nice detailed raised cockpit and radar room  floor pan.  

Only five night fighter squadrons were still equipped with P-70s at the time they were deployed overseas. Four P-70-trained night fighter squadrons were sent with their aircraft to North Africa in 1943 for service with the Twelfth Air Force. However, when they got there, these outfits used Bristol Beaufighter VIF fighters obtained from Britain under Reverse Lend-Lease. The 427th Night Figher Squadron took its P-70s with it when it deployed to Italy, but the squadron exchanged its P-70s for Northrop P-61 Black Widows before it became operational.

It does not come with a seated pilot  or radar operator figures.

   Not much in the way of rivet detail on the wings, but access hatches abound on them and the fuselage etc. In the wheel wells there is no detail on the floor of the gear bay or on the gear doors.  

   The cockpit is lacking any interior side detail

The instruments are not bad but the canopy does not appear to be easily hinged upward so we will see what can be done to show off some of the floor pan and instrument dash details

Decals are included for two aircraft of the 6th Night fighter Squadron bases in the SWPacific in 42-44 serving with the13th airforce.  The decals provided for the Orlando  FL training unit are simply aircraft numbers for the nose and tail.  In some kits the decals are in the plastic sealed bags with parts.  As the kits ages this may be the difference in some decals being usable .

   Instructions cover 10 pages and in are English. They are adequate to support the build. Only one color for the aircraft,  flat black, the rest of the pics are for decal placement.  Smile  


   Overall a nice impression though IMO not quite as nice in some details provided with the much older ARII N1K1-J  kit that is part of the group 5 build. This is a very pricey kit in the USA even before shipping, so I would have hoped for a bit more.  

The build

There are some fit issues, but nothing insurmountable.   The wings and fuselage have alignment pins but they are very small & are easy to get offset.

The interior was sprayed an OD green, as were other wheel bays and inside of the gear doors.  The landing gear doors had to be split!   Even with a very sharp exacto knife this is a PIA and given some other parts in the kit are tiny this seems to be an unnecessary thing to put the builder through.    

Doug I thank you every time I use these clamps.  The fuselage went together well and the nose cap and bottom gun tray fit well.  The engine nacelles lined up perfectly and the landing gear is sturdy.   There is a bit of a gap on the vertical and horizontal stabilizer assemblies where it meets the spine of the fuselage that needs to be filled.  

It could be defective workmanship on the part of the builder, but I did dry fit it a few times first and could not find a way to not have a gap.  

Beautiful and detailed cockpit but it all unfortunately disappears in the build as you close it up.  The yellow paint is a simulated raft that was kept behind the pilot.  It would not be seen either.

Anyone who  builds twin engine aircraft know how tough the wings can be to attach properly.  The wing spar really helps to keep the wings in place while they set up.  

The paint is a satin black vs gloss ...the pics are wet.    I forgot my nose weight...  Sad  so I have a tail sitter unless I use a couple of fuel drums.

Just a couple of small parts to go.  The small windows seem to be more of an inside mount but the instructions show an outside mount .....  The nose cannon are tiny , see the tip of the exacto blade.   Some of the decals are invisible against the black.     On many WWII aircraft you see a stenciled serial number , crew chief  and other information behind the cockpits.  The kits includes this, but in black its pretty much useless.   The prop warning stripes are more pronounced so show up well .

Finished.   Not my best build but I wanted to see what this looked like in 1.48 and was a unique subject.  That Emily would have a hard time seeing him come up behind him, but unless the P-70 was already in the air and close by its performance might  let the Emily get away.

This would be quite a item in 1.48 diecast but William long ago said such size 1/48 twin engine aircraft were not in the cards for HM.  I doubt we will ever see the likes of a Franklin Mint rise ever again to offer affordable WWII large aircraft to the general public.  

Other night fighter uses.

After the fall of France in 1940, outstanding contracts for Douglas DB-7 & DB-7A medium bomber aircraft were appropriated by the British Purchasing Commission. With relatively few aircraft available and the good performance of the DB-7/A, named Havoc in UK service, made them suitable for use as intruders and night-fighters.

Thirty-one of the DB-7's (Havoc I) were converted to carry the 2,700 million candela (2.7Gcd) Helmore Turbinlite searchlight in the nose, as well as Airborne Interception Mk.IV (A.I. Mk.IV) radar. These aircraft were to operate in conjunction with Hawker Hurricane nightfighters, illuminating the targets after tracking them with the radar, for the Hurricane fighters to despatch.

1453 (Turbinlite) Flight was one of the flights formed -in their case on 10 July 1941–[2] especially to use the Turbinlite Havoc operating in conjunction with Hawker Hurricanes of No. 151 Squadron RAF and No. 486 Squadron RNZAF, also housed, like 1453 Flight, at RAF Witterin

Thirty-nine DB-7A's (Havoc II) were also converted to use the Turbinlite searchlights and these also saw service with the Turbinlite flights and the squadrons formed from the flights from 2 September 1942, the flight being replaced with 532 Squadron on 8 September 1942[3] (not on 2 September due to administrative reasons)and the flight officially disbanded as late as 31 January 1943.

Results of the combined operations were not spectacular, (only one confirmed kill with 31 aircraft lost), but valuable experience in the use of the A.I. (Airborne interception) radar was gained. The Helmore Turbinlite was also evaluated as an anti-submarine attack searchlight, but the Leigh Light was found to be superior.

most of this data with a few modifications came

Compared to a FM B-25 in similar scale.  

Before the USA entered the Second World War, the USAAC felt that it needed long-range fighters more than it needed attack bombers, and the prototype A-20 (39-735) was adapted for night fighting duties under the designation XP-70. Two unsupercharged 1600 hp Wright R-2600-11s replaced the turbosupercharged R-2600-7s. RAF experience with the modified DB-7 Havoc was used as a guideline. British AI Mk IV radar was mounted in an unglazed nose, with an arrow-like transmitting antenna located in front of the nose, and receiving antennae being located on the fuselage sides and on the port wing. All bomb racks and all defensive armament were removed. The crew was reduced from three to two, the second crewman being a radar operator seated in the rear cockpit. Four 20-mm cannon with 60 rpg were installed in a ventral tub. The success of these modifications led to a USAAC decision on October 15, 1940 to have fifty-nine more of the A-20s on order modified as P-70 night fighters.

Fifty-nine P-70s, originally ordered as A-20s were completed with R-2600-11 engines as night fighters. Serials were 39-736 to 39-740, 39-742 to 39-744, 39-746 and 39-747 and 39-749 to 39-797) They were identical to the XP-70 except for minor equipment changes. Maximum speed was 329 mph at 14,000 feet. An altitude of 12,000 feet could be attained in 8 minutes, service ceiling was 28,250 feet, and combat range was 1060 miles. Weights were 16,031 pounds empty and 20,984 pounds gross. The first P-70 was delivered in April of 1942, and the order was completed in September of that year. The name *Nighthawk* seems to have been given to the P-70

Since the USAAF had no night fighter units when the USA entered World War 2, a night fighter training organization was established at Orlando, Florida. Most of the P-70 Nighthawk aircraft served there with the 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group to develop tactics and procedures for radar-controlled night interceptions and to train the crews of nineteen night fighter squadrons. Very few of these P-70s ever went overseas, most remaining in the USA to be passed on to the next night fighter units that needed to be trained. Most units trained on the P-70 were reequipped with the Northrop P-61 Black Widow before they transferred overseas.

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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PostSubject: Re: Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)   Sun Mar 05 2017, 15:45

You've done a really nice job on this kit, which was originally tooled by AMT in the 90s. In 1/72 there's a Special Hobby/MPM kit of the Turbinlite version shown in one of your profiles, with the giant searchlight housed in the nose.

 Mike Grant | Calgary AB
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Kyushu J7W


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PostSubject: Re: Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)   Sun Mar 05 2017, 17:37

Thanks Migrant

I think I will still build the attack bomber as it does a lot of great work in the SWPA. The Turbinlite was an odd idea. Seems you made your self a target for the rear gunner pretty easily and for any other night fighter lurking about in your targets radar shadow. It did say they lost 31 aircraft with 1 confirmed victory, but not much else to be found on line about this unit .

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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PostSubject: Re: Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)   Sun Mar 05 2017, 17:53

Another very nice build Kyushu despite the problems you encountered.

I thought this photo of a Turbinlite equipped Havoc as the aircraft was known in the RAF. The lamp was a carbon arc light, a bigger version of the type used in cinemas to project films for many years. I have always thought that all the effort put into to this exercise was a waste when there were better aircraft such as the Beaufighter already available and proving their worth.  The total success of the Turbinlite  aircraft amounted to one e/a destroyed, one probable and two damaged.

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PostSubject: Re: Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)   Sun Mar 05 2017, 19:47

This is another really wonderful build and great documentation. Beautiful.
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Italeri Douglas P-70 A/S Nighthawk ( A Stop Gap Night Fighter)
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