Hobby Boss 1/72 Dewoitine D.520
KIT: Hobby Boss 1/72 Dewoitine D.520
KIT #: 80237
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker


The Dewoitine D.520 was designed in the late thirties in an attempt by the French to catch up with the apparent lead of Britain and Germany in fighter development, and was the only really modern fighter in the Armee de l’Aire inventory when war finally broke out in 1939.  One factor in its late introduction was the nationalization in 1936 of the French Aircraft industry, and the original Dewoitine firm’s incorporation into the nationalized French aviation industry. Emile Dewoitine and several other engineers and designers left the firm and started a design bureau, and after several prototypes, developed the D.520, which was certainly on a par with the Hurricane although slightly lower in performance than the Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf-109E, partially due to its lower engine power. Their new firm was later nationalized, but development of their aircraft was slowed because the Air Ministry had already decided to adopt the Morane MS.406 as its standard fighter, so the D.520 had a lower priority.

 Eventually, French authorities saw that the D.520 was a better airplane, and in late 1939, large orders were placed, with a target delivery rate of 200 aircraft per month. In addition, fighters were ordered from the U.S., including export versions of the Curtiss P-36A.  The first production D.520 flew in October, 1939, and deliveries were slow due to shortages of critical components.  By the time of the German offensive in May, 1940, 246 D.520’s had been produced, with only 79 accepted into service.  During the Battle of France, additional units were converted to the D.520, but the type was not influential in the outcome of the battle.  D.520 units claimed 108 confirmed and 39 probable victories at a cost of 106 aircraft, 26 in air combat and 80 to other causes.

 After the Armistice, the Vichy government was allowed to maintain a limited air force, and D.520’s were used by those units that remained intact.  Throughout 1940 and 1941, these units operated D.520’s in unoccupied France and Algeria.  In November, 1942, the Allies landed in French North Africa, and French D.520 units strongly resisted, losing 35 aircraft to U.S. and British fighters. The Germans responded by invading unoccupied France, taking over the D.50’s that remained in France.  These aircraft were used by the Luftwaffe as fighter trainers, or passed on to other allies, including Italy and Bulgaria. Some Luftwaffe survivors recaptured by the French were used against the Germans in areas cut off by the allied advance, and after the war, the surviving aircraft were reincorporated into the postwar air force, some being converted to two seat trainers. Some of these lasted until 1953. Four aircraft survived into the eighties, and three have been placed on display in various museums, while the fourth, which was flown regularly, was damaged beyond repair in a fatal crash in 1986.


Hobby Boss, a Chinese firm, has introduced a line of “quick-build” kits in 1/72 scale, mainly depicting World War II fighters.  This is one of the more obscure types they have offered, and if you can ignore the simplicity and lack of details, you can build an acceptable model from almost any of these kits. They all have their faults, of course, but they are designed for youngsters with little experience, and when assembled, produce a model that with a little extra effort, could compare favorably with some of the earlier offerings from Airfix and even Hasegawa.  Besides, they are quick and they are fun.

 The kit consists of a main fuselage, a lower section that includes the entire wing, elevators, exhaust stacks and shields, a radiator scoop, landing gear, tailwheel,  propeller, and canopy.  There is only a little flash, and this is easily removed.  Parts snap into place, and I believe that the kit is designed to be assembled without any kind of solvent or glue. If the parts are assembled correctly, there is no way that the wing or tailplane can be out of alignment. They are as “idiotproof” as a kit can be.


This kit is the equivalent of the model railroading ‘shake the box” kit.  Everything snaps into place, although serious modelers will want to use some solvent glue.  The wing fits into the bottom of the fuselage, and requires only a little filler at the rear.  Fit is excellent.  The horizontals snap into place, and the radio mast fits perfectly in the aft portion of the fuselage.  The landing gear consists of wheels, struts, and doors, like any other kit. The radiator is well done, and snaps into place under the fuselage.  The canopy snaps into place easily, and is easy to mask and paint.  The propeller assembly consists of the prop, two alternate spinners (although I don’t know why, as both planes depicted in the painting guide have the shorter spinner), a long shaft, a spinner place, a long wire shaft, and an end cap.  This is probably the most complicated part of the kit. It is intended to be pushed into the nose after assembly and painting, and the prop will turn but it won’t spin like normal kit assemblies.

As a quick build kit, it is childishly simple, and any kid above the age of six should be able to get one together if daddy does the trimming of the parts from the sprues.  And the end result for a serious modeler isn’t bad either.  I haven’t built the Hasegawa kit, but I suspect that the completed model would look OK next to it.


Decals are provided for two aircraft, a D.520 of GC1/3 during the battle of France, and a D.520 in Vichy French markings, complete with red and yellow nose and tail markings.  Of course, I chose to do one in Bulgarian markings, as I already had Heller models of the other two color schemes.  The decals go on easily, although they are pretty glossy and need to be trimmed. I elected not to use them. I have used other decals from Hobby Boss kits, and they seem to work OK. 


This kit would be a good starter for a kid interested in modeling, and wanting a quick-build.  It is robust enough to survive, sans landing gear and prop, for a while as a toy.  Of course, it can be built into an acceptable model by the serious modeler, and with a little detailing,  looks comparable to more sophisticated models.

 Try several of these kits.  They are quick, fun, and inexpensive. 

Brian Baker

May 2008

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