DOUGLAS DB-7B “BOSTON
22 Squadron RAAF 1943
“The Art of Camouflage”
(Or “Disguising the boo-boos”)
AMT A-20B/C converted to DB-7B
The aircraft gallery on www.hyperscale.com includes a model
of a Douglas A-20A with impeccable surface detail and a natural
metal finish you could use as a mirror to
shave your whiskers.
My build of the same kit is different.
I started the 1/48 scale AMT/ERTL Douglas
A-20B/C Havoc kit around 1997, proceeded as far as unsuccessfully
trying to modify the engine cowls and exhausts,
and put it away as life intervened until 2007. Armed with
Red Roo’s engine cowl set
and further references I took a deep breath and continued
To my eyes it seemed that the dry fitted
engine cowlings - both kit supplied and after
market - sat with an excess angle of incidence when compared
to photos of the real
thing. Much tinkering led me to trim the wing as shown in
the middle photo above
and remove the cowl flaps thereby reducing the angle when
attaching the cowling.
This left irregular gaps where the cowl flaps should have
been so I made some new
flaps from “Dymo” tape and attached them in an
open position to partly hide the
irregularities. The supplied parts probably sat at the correct
angle to start with. Air
intakes atop the wings had their height reduced a touch by
knife, plastic card and
The nose had holes drilled to accept extra
guns, was weighted with fishing sinkers
kept in place with superglue, which in turn partially obstructed
the drilled holes. The
extra weight also resulted in the nose cracking when I managed
to drop it and repairs
led to the loss of some of the panel detail.
True Details main wheels and life raft were
used. Excess bulging of the tyres was
trimmed away, main wheel gear moved forward a tad as per
a couple of references.
A bulkhead at the front of the gunner’s
compartment was removed to allow the
canopy to be posed open.
The colour scheme was settled
on after looking at photos of the aircraft on
books including "Frend Bilong Australia Tru" and
references containing colour photographs.
I understand the aircraft modelled was originally destined
for a Dutch order with
American equivalents of British type camouflage colours and
would have been
repainted in sections at least with change of nationality
markings, style of squadron
codes and serials, and repairs, so my final choice of colours
is possibly as accurate as
the painting jobs of my childhood when various available
remnants of Dulux and
British Paints from the shed adorned my models.
I attempted pre shading for the first time and a rather random
pattern of black
squiggles and blotches resulted. The undersurface colour
was made by mixing some
Tamiya XF19 “Sky Grey” with Model Master “RAF
Sky Type S”. I was completely
confused as to whether the undersurfaces should have been
a blue or a grey so used
both. This fortunately went on smoothly giving a nice satin
finish and obscuring the
horrid pre shading.
Humbrol 118 was chosen for the brown. A bad choice of thinner
and foibles of the
airbrush resulted in a less than smooth application of paint.
The greens behaved
beautifully though-Model Master FS34102 “Medium Green”,
Humbrol 149 (as “Foliage Green”)
to the nose and Humbrol 116 around the port side nose gun
blister and port engine cowl. Paint chipping was applied
to the propellers with Floquil “old
silver” by brush. Very light chipping elsewhere was
applied with a silver pencil.
The Camouflage pattern was based on diagrams in 'Frend Bilong
Australia Tru' and
modified according to photographic references.
Humbrol gloss enamel did
not seem to coat smoothly and actually still felt a little
tacky on the wing leading edges after a couple of days, but
the decals went on very
nicely. The decals were a mixture of Aussie Decals, Aeromaster
(for the fuselage
codes in particular as the “Q” is a more correct
shape), and Ventura decals for some
roundels and fin flash. Aeromaster Aeroset and Aerosol II
decal solutions worked a
treat. I did decide to try and move one roundel AFTER applying
solution with predictable destruction of the decal and reminded
myself not to be such
I continued to be a similar sort of goose.
The figure of Tojo settled so well that
a huge Himalayan like ridge became apparent
across his forehead, the result of previously masking the
area with tape to touch up the
camouflage colour/pattern and applying a tad too much paint
along the tape edge
forming a raised line. Late one night after exhausting myself
at tennis I returned home
and got it into my head to correct the ridge with a scalpel-and
nearly scalped Mr Tojo.
Fortunately a mix of some yellow and white Humbrol enamels
adequately patched his
scone and the scarring was further hidden with some brushed
on clear gloss. The
indentations on his forehead can still be felt if one runs
a finger across the affected
I elected not to use the wing walkway decals as they seemed
too bright. Markings
probably were present on the real aircraft.
I’ve not used washes before so was hesitant to risk
the paint job. I read of water
colour washes and these seemed pretty benign so I bought
a set of Reeves water
colours (tubes) and merrily spent a day applying and removing
very dilute paint
(containing a drop of dish washing liquid) by brush and cotton
A coat of matt Humbrol clear enamel gave a good flat finish.
Engine exhaust staining was airbrushed with
a mix of a brown and gun-metal.
An armoured glass windscreen
was made from clear plastic and attached inside the
main canopy windscreen. A little glue managed to fog the
very top of the windscreen
as I used super glue rather than my usual Aquadhere for clear
parts in an attempt to get
a quick attachment in a fiddly spot. I am attributing the
fogging to condensation in the
tropics. A Red Roo etched brass gun sight was attached to
the canopy frame.
Nose guns were made from 21 G hypodermic tubing. Tail mounted
pitot tube and
nose mounted gun sight were fashioned from plastic card and
wire, cockpit seatbelts
from an Airwaves etched set, gunner’s seatbelt from
masking tape, rear fuselage step
from a bent staple and card, and the antenna wire from 5/0
monofilament nylon suture
material. I did not add wing tip lights and I have learned
that the tailplane dihedral
could be greater, but mine is as AMT decreed.
Finally I looked at the “completed” model
and it dawned on me that the nose landing gear should be
longer to give a slight nose up attitude to the aeroplane
call it a plane Bader. It is an aeroplane”)*.
Boldly a few days later
after a good sleep, no tennis and careful consideration and
planning I used a new scalpel blade and excised cleanly the
nose wheel gear without
mishap, attached some blocks of styrene in the nosewheel
bay, and reattached the
nose gear. I also set the nose wheel doors just inside the
wheel well to help give the
appearance of a slightly higher nose.
The model is done and no more tinkering
I shudder to think of the natural metal jobbies in the stash
still to be built.
Books and magazines
1. Gary Byk "Frend Bilong Australia Tru", Red Roo Models,
2. Gary Byk & Peter Malone "Understanding RAAF Aircraft
Colours", Red Roo
Models, Melbourne 1996
3. Roger A Freeman "The Royal Air Force of World War Two
in Colour" Arms
and Armour Press, London 1999
4. Daniel J. March (Ed) "British Warplanes of World War2",
Publishing Ltd Kent 2002
5. Jim Mesko "A-20 Havoc in Action" Squadron Signal
Publications ,Texas 1994
6. Geoffrey Pentland "RAAF Camouflage and Markings 1939-1945"
Volumes1 & 2, Kookaburra Technical Publications, Melbourne
7. Stewart Wilson "Boston,Mitchell and Liberator in Australian
Aerospace Publications, ACT 1992
8. Models and Hobbies Magazine, Best Models 199?
1. www.adfserials,com -especially gallery photographs of
2. www.aussiemodeller.com -discussion forum
3. www.hyperscale.com -“RAAF
foliage green-a brief discussion” by Gary Byk
and Peter Malone
1. The Way to the Stars, 1945 United Artists –contains
film of RAF Bostons with
engines starting up, cowl flaps closing and taxying/taking
*2. Reach for the Sky, 1956 Rank Organisation -irrelevent
quote from movie.