MPM 1/72 Northrop A-17






2 aircraft, but everyone will do the box art version.


Scott Van Aken


Short run with resin prop hub


The A-17 was a very typical attack plane of its age. Simple in design and offering fairly good performance, it would have found itself an easy target without fighter escort, a similar characteristic of the RAF's Battle and the German's Ju-87. However, the military was looking for a plane that was inexpensive more than one that was adequately prepared for battle. Developed from the Northrop Gamma civilian aircraft, the A-17 was available at a paltry $19,000, minus government furnished equipment. It was also powered by a rather low rated Pratt & Whitney R-1535 of 750 hp that gave it a maximum speed of 206 mph. The speed and armament (four forward firing .30 calibre machine guns and up to 650 lbs of bombs) of the A-17 was considered good by 1935 standards. Fortunately for the crews, none of the 110 A-17s built were called upon to serve in battle, having been pretty well been removed from the inventory by the time the US entered the war.


As time goes on, MPM continually improves its kits. Each one seems to get better and better. In terms of mold quality, the current versions are as good as any that they have produced. Still, it is a short run kit so has a number of the qualities of any kit of this genre. Basically that means that you'll find some parts in resin, etched metal or vacuformed plastic. Fortunately, this kit has only a single resin part and that is for the prop hub (I personally dislike this kind of thing and wish that manufacturers would go back to a single construct for the prop). The canopy is injected plastic and is relatively thin.

There are no ejector pin stubs on the large parts, these being replaced by small depressions, though none will be visible when the kit is completed. I did spot a sink mark on the cockpit floor, but it will be pretty well out of view, and some of the thinner parts have stress marks where they attach to the sprue. This means you'll have to be very careful when removing them from the sprue to prevent them from breaking. A thin razor saw should do the trick.

Detail is fairly good with nice engraved panel lines. There is detail on the side walls of the interior and some bits to add to them to make it seem properly busy. Aircraft of this time didn't have the mass of 'stuff' attached to the inside that became typical with later airplanes. There is a machine gun for the rear seat though it will have to be displayed stowed unless you are good at cutting canopies or make a vacuformed replacement.

The instructions have improved over the last MPM kit I built by having a dedicated fuselage cut away to show were all the interior bits fit. There is also a head on overall view to show proper placement and alignment of the undercarriage. I do hope that these two features are a permanent addition as I like them very much. Though the instructions would have you believe that there are markings for two planes, in reality, there is only one and that is for the 13th Attack Squadron at Barksdale Field in Louisiana. The other is just a generic plane with no unit or special markings. Decals are by Propagteam so you know that they will be very thin, opaque and tricky to use. I hesitate to even use the term camouflage for this, but the paint scheme is blue fuselage with yellow flying surfaces. Colors are given in FS standards which is nice, but I'm not sure how applicable that is to a 30's plane. Nonetheless, it will make for a colorful model.



The choice of an A-17 is a good one for MPM. I personally like these types of aircraft. They are pre-war with all the color and are not biplanes so I don't have to do a lot of rigging. Really, the best of both worlds. There are several other aircraft of this type like the Consolidated PB-2 and the Curtiss A-18 that lend themselves well to this type of kit. I anticipate few problems with this one, so stay tuned.

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

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