Revell/MPM 1/72 P-70 Nighthawk

KIT #: 03939
PRICE: $25.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


Intended as a stop gap measure until more potent types became available, the Douglas P-70 was a derivative of the company’s A-20. It featured an SCR-540 radar and was equipped with four 20 mm forward-firing cannons, located  in a tray in the lower part of the bomb bay, while its upper part held an additional fuel tank for endurance.

The glazed nose was often painted black, or even replaced with a solid one, in order to reduce glare and hide the details of the radar set, with various other modifications incorporated in later versions.
Apart from serving as night fighting aircrew trainer back home in Florida and later in California, the type was utilized in the Pacific Theater and, while Its success was limited, it played a crucial role by being present when little else was available.


MPM launched their very nice 1/72 A-20 family in 2007, starting with the A-20G, then regularly reboxing the molds with occasionally new parts, practically covering every version of the plane and from 2014 onwards carrying the Special Hobby logo. Revell has reboxed the kit twice, in 2012 as Boston Mk.V/A-20J and in 2016 as the P-70 Nighthawk, which is the subject of this preview. The specific kit was a gift from my Polish friend Bernard Sobczyk, who was even more generous by including a set of Eduard masks and Armory resin wheels!

The kit comes in the usual (now black, not blue) side opening Revell box, made of good quality cardboard, carrying a very attractive box art of artist Andrzej Deredos, depicting two P-70s flying during sunset. Upon opening the box, I was greeted with around 180 black styrene parts, arranged in seven sprues of various sizes. Of them, only around 120 are to be used for the specific version, as the sprues feature parts for the other variants (like bomber/navigator compartment bits, different exhausts, noses, armament, antennas and so on), meaning you will be left with a considerable amount of leftover bits, which might at cases be useful for your future projects (like the antennas, for example).

Being one of the later MPM offerings and though still limited run in nature, this kit has done solid steps towards being mainstream. Molding, apart from some not too prominent mold lines, is quite crisp without flash, there are helpful locating pins in quite a few areas and panel lines are finely recessed. Some sprue gates might be found at awkward places, like near the finely detailed prop hubs, deeming parts removal from the sprues not an always easy task. Though looking more “shiny” than we are used to, the styrene itself is of good quality, reacting positively to normal glue, something very helpful, especially when dealing with less mainstream kits.

Cockpit and radar operator’s compartment are thoroughly done for the scale, including all main items found in the real plane. The instrument panel features nicely molded instruments, with a good looking decal to be (optionally) placed onto. Seat belts are provided as decals, a nice touch for the scale. The radar operator’s office features the expected plethora of consoles and the correct for the version seat. Though not sure if it was always fitted, I would not mind if the famous liferaft that was stowed aft of the pilot’s cushion would be provided (if you want to replicate it, you should either scratch build it or go for a resin aftermarket).

Landing gear is finely represented, with the legs featuring scale thickness (a good think realism-wise, but, maybe, not that good regarding strength), the bays are fully boxed and well detailed and the wheels look good. The other key area of the engines is equally well represented and the props look fine. The aerodynamic surfaces are nicely done and this includes the fabric representation.

Transparencies are crisply molded with well defined frames and crystal clear. Instructions are excellently done per the “New Revell Style”, provided in the form of a 16-page color A4 booklet, including a reference photo of a completed model, a sprue diagram, with the construction spread in 36 clear, concise and followable steps, with color callouts included where applicable.

Two schemes are provided, for two quite famous P-70s: one is “Black Magic”, #9753, a bird used for training crews, as it stood in California, early 1944 and the other is “Dusty”, #9768, as it stood in the Pacific Theater in late 1943. Both are overall black, with “Black Magic” carrying a sort of two tone black scheme (presumably featuring the original, partly faded black, with some freshly painted areas). Colors are given in Revell codes and in generic form. Decals are supremely done by (almost definitely, though not imprinted) Cartograf and include maintenance stenciling.

Instructions want you to assemble the cockpit and radar operator office, then trap them between the fuselage halves. The two distinctive aft-located oval windows have to be attached beforehand, however I would consider replicating them with Clearfix or a similar product. The wings and tail planes are then assembled and attached, followed by assembling the engine nacelles/main bays, and the engines themselves.  

Landing gear is then put together and installed. The main legs have to be attached prior to attaching the nacelle/main bay subassembly to the wings and, though tempted, I doubt if it is possible to attach them afterwards uneventfully. The underside gun tray is then attached (you may wish to open up the gun holes and ejector chutes for extra realism), followed by the props, the top engine air inlet extensions (expect some fit issues there), the nose (you have to choose the correct for your version), the antennas’ suite (again, the correct for your version) and, finally, the canopies.

The kit clearly possesses a certain level of complexity, aiming to the more experienced modeler, this being very true, taking into account its “limited run” nature.


This is a very comprehensive kit of the iconic P-70. Shapes of parts look correct, panel lines are finely recessed, molding is good, details are plenty all over (the key areas included), transparencies look great, instructions are thorough and decals are superb.

Though vastly departed from the first MPM attempts and approaching mainstream offerings, this is still a limited run kit that will require your extra attention (cleanup, test-fit three times, then attach), so the novice modeler is typically excluded from the potential builders. The kit is definitely buildable and an average modeler, apart from the extra cleanup/test-fit, will have no difficulty putting it together.

As of 2023, this kit is by far the most detailed P-70 of all scales, the same being true for the other MPM/Special Hobby versions of the whole A-20 family. Surely not shake and bake, but, on the other hand, not that difficult and offered at very sensible prices, if you have some modeling experience and do not mind walking the “test-fit, sand, repeat” extra mile, this is a kit worth tackling.

My sincere thanks to Bernard Sobczyk for sending me this kit.

Happy Modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

March 2023 

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