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MPM 1/72 scale Northrop A-17

Kit: No. 72504
Scale: 1/72

Manufacturer: MPM, Mezilesi 718, 193 00 Prague 9, Czech Republic,
Price: $18.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 50 parts (1 resin propeller hub), decals
Pros: Good fit, good surface details, excellent decals
Cons: Attaching the wing to the fuselage is tricky, no positive locators for small parts.
Developed from Jack Northrop's Delta and Gamma monoplanes, the A-17 was an attack monoplane delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1935. It paralleled the Navy BT-1 dive bomber, and both were valuable stepping stones to what was considered the best Allied dive bomber of World War II, the Douglas SBD Dauntless. You can see the similarity of the three designs in the wing structure with the characteristic perforated dive flaps.

MPM has the honor of producing the first injection-molded A-17. The kit parts are well molded in medium gray and clear plastic. The resin propeller hub provides a fine rendition of the centrifugal counterweights. MPM's one-piece clear canopy is injection-molded, thin, and distortion-free.

Parts cleanup is expected with any kit, and only a little effort was needed here. The fit overall was good, and unlike some earlier MPM efforts, the cockpit details fit inside the fuselage without modification. They include two seats, a bulkhead, rearward-firing gun with scarf ring, instrument panel, floor, gun magazines, radio gear, and a trough for the gun. You can't see much of this with the heavily framed canopy in place, though.

The trickiest part of the assembly is adding the five-part wing to the fuselage. Following the instructions is a good idea here, as you will establish most of the joint with the bottom wing section, then add the overlapping top and bottom outboard surfaces. Dry-fitting and lightly sanding the mating surfaces produced a good fit.

There are no positive locating devices for the spatted landing gear, airscoops, horizontal stabilizers, and the cowl. They are best left off until after painting, unless you like to mask everything.

The blue and yellow Air Corps paint scheme makes this model a real eye-popper. I masked and painted the canopy with interior green to represent the interior surfaces of the framework, then painted the entire model with Testor flat white enamel. When it was dry, I sprayed the wings, horizontal stabilizers, and fin with gloss "chrome" yellow enamel. After letting that dry for about a week, I masked and painted the fuselage with Polly Scale USAAC blue. An overcoat of Future prepared the model for the decals. I airbrushed Alclad II "chrome" over Future on the prop.

MPM's decals were beautifully printed and went on well even without setting solution, but the overlapping rudder stripes had to be trimmed off. I cut wing walks from black trim decal material.

The finished model looks like the photos of A-17s in Dana Bell's Air Force Colors, Vol. I 1926-1942 (Squadron/Signal). I spent about 28 hours on it. If you like aircraft of the colorful 1930s, you'll want to add the A-17 to your collection.

Paul Boyer


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