AMT 1/48 P-70

KIT #: 8646
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1997 release


In October 1940, the USAAC felt a need for long-range fighters more than attack bombers. As a result, sixty of the production run of A-20s were converted to P-70 night fighters, all delivered by September 1942. They were equipped with SCR-540 radar (a copy of the British AI Mk IV), the glazed nose often being painted black to reduce glare and hide the details of the radar set, and had four 20 mm (.79 in) forward-firing cannon, each provided with 120 rounds, in a tray in the lower part of the bomb bay, while the upper part held an additional fuel tank with a capacity of 250 US gallons (950 L; 210 imp gal). In 1943, between June and October, 13 A-20Cs and 51 A-20Gs were converted to P-70A. Differences were to be found in the armament, with the 20mm cannon package replaced by an A-20G gun nose with six .50 caliber guns installed, the SCR-540 radar installation being carried in the bomb bay with the vertical-plane, twin-dipole "arrowhead" transceiving antenna protruding between the nose guns. Further P-70 variants were produced from A-20G and J variants. The singular airframe P-70B-1 (converted from an A-20G) and subsequent P-70B-2s (converted from A-20Gs and Js) had American centimetric radar (SCR-720 or SCR-729) fitted. The P-70s and P-70As saw combat only in the Pacific during World War II and only with the USAAF. The P-70B-1 and P-70B-2 aircraft never saw combat but served as night fighter aircrew trainers in the US in Florida and later in California. All P-70s were retired from service by 1945.


When AMT was producing kit, they provided a fairly complete selection of A-20s in 1/48. This includes the P-70 night fighter. This kit is based on their A-20B/C with the inclusion of a single sprue that contains the belly gun pack, a new nose, and the radar antennas.

The kit provides a nice cockpit with a full rear gunner's position. Since the nose will be painted over, there is lots of room for nose weight and this one will need it. All of the control surfaces are molded in place in the neutral position. The wings benefit from a fairly lengthy spar that is molded into a fuselage bulkhead.

One attaches all of the flight surfaces before attaching the main landing gear and later trapping it between the engine nacelles. It has been pointed out to me that the main landing gear is actually a bit too far back in the nacelles. It can be fixed if the builder wishes to put in the effort by drilling new mounting holes. The main gear should just about butt up against the front of the gear well opening. All the gear doors need to be cut if one wants to have it gear down.

The uncut bomb bay doors will need to be installed prior to attaching the gun pack. Another note is that the tires on this kit just look wrong. Fortunately there are aftermarket wheels that have a much nicer tread and you should seek them out.

Instructions are well done and you are provided two markings options. Both are overall black and differ in nose art and the size of the insignia. Decals are nicely printed, though a bit thick. Not sure if aftermarket is available, but I'd look to see what's out there if you want something different.  


The AMT A-20 kits are pretty easy to build with no real surprises. For those who want a complete collection of US WWII fighters, then this one should be on your list. The kit is pretty easy to find and can also be found in an Italeri box with a better decal sheet.


February 2024

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