Special Hobby 1/72 A-35B Vengeance 'Armee de l'Air'

KIT #: 72049
PRICE: $12. 75 on sale at GreatModels 
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes photo etch, resin and vacuformed parts.


In 1940, Vultee Aircraft started the design of a single engined dive-bomber, the Vultee Model 72 (V-72) to meet the requirements of the French Armée de l'Air. The V-72 was built with private funds and was intended for sale to foreign markets. The V-72 was a low-wing, single engine powered,  with a closed cockpit and a crew of two. An air-cooled radial Wright Double Row Cyclone GR-2600-A5B-5 engine rated at 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) powered the V-72. It was armed with both fixed forward firing and flexible mounted .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns in the rear cockpit. The aircraft also carried up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) of bombs in an interior bomb bay and on external wing racks.

The Vengeance was uniquely designed to dive vertically rather than at an angle. To this end the it had a 0-degree angle of incidence on the wing to prevent the aircraft from "tracking" forward during its dive. This resulted in the aircraft cruising in a nose-up attitude giving a poor forward view for the pilot, particularly during landing. It had an unusual, "W" shaped wing planform. This resulted from an error in calculating its centre of gravity. Moving the wing back by "sweeping" the centre section was a simpler fix than re-designing the wing root. This gives impression of an inverted gull wing, like the F4U Corsair, when seen from an angle, when in fact the wing has a more conventional dihedral on the outer wing panels.

France placed an order for 300 V-72s, with deliveries intended to start in October 1940. The fall of France in June 1940 stopped these plans, but at the same time the British Purchasing Commission, impressed by the performance of the German Junkers Ju 87, were shopping for a dive bomber for the Royal Air Force, and as it was the only aircraft available, placed an order for 200 V-72s (named Vengeance by Vultee) on 3 July 1940, with orders for a further 100 being placed in December. As Vultee's factory at Downey was already busy building BT-13 trainers, the aircraft were to be built at the Stinson factory at Nashville, and under license by Northrop at Hawthorne, California.

The first prototype V-72 flew from Vultee's factory at Downey, California on 30 March 1941. Additional aircraft were ordered for Britain in June 1941 under the Lend-Lease scheme, with these being given the US Army Air Corps designation A-31.

Following the United States entry into the war following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, a number of V-72 and A-31 aircraft were re-possessed for use by the Army Air Corps. As the Army Air Corps became interested in dive bombing, it decided to order production of an improved version of the Vengeance, designated the A-35, for both its own use and for supply to its allies under Lend-Lease. It was fitted with a more powerful Wright Cyclone R-2600-19 engine and improved armament. As US Army test pilots disliked the poor pilot view which resulted from the zero-incidence wing, this was "corrected" in the A-35, giving a better attitude in cruise but losing its accuracy as a dive bomber.

When production of the Vengeance was completed in 1944, a total of 1,528 aircraft had been produced. The majority were produced at the Vultee plant in Nashville, Tennessee.

Indecision about what aircraft should replace it in production at the Vultee plant led to several "make-work" contracts for Vengeance aircraft to prevent dispersion of the skilled workforce. This resulted in overproduction of what was considered an obsolete aircraft.

In combat the type was considered rugged, reliable, stable, and generally well-behaved. Commonwealth forces operated the type from May 1942 to July 1944. Burma tended to be a low priority for Allied air planners, and forces in that theater got what was left over. Aircraft such as the Vickers Wellington and Hawker Hurricane spent their last days in Burma. The Vengeance saw considerable action attacking Japanese supply, communications and troop concentrations in Burma. Its service in that theater has been described as sterling. At best the Vengeance was a qualified success in Burma, doing much to hold the line against Japanese advances.

The Free French Air Force received 67 A-35A and -Bs in 1943, being used to equip three bomb groups in North Africa. The French, however, keen to get their aircraft operational as soon as possible did not incorporate improvements found necessary by Britain and Australia, so their aircraft proved to be unreliable and required extremely high oil consumption. As such, they were restricted to training operations, being finally withdrawn in September 1944.


This kit is very similar to the previous A-31/35 issues from the MPM group. There are two sprues of injected plastic for the main airframe parts. The molding on these is quite good with crisply formed engraved panel line detail. The landing gear are also injected so one doesn't have to concern one's self about the possibilities of resin deformation over time. There are two nicely molded vacuformed canopies included with the kit. Having a spare is always nice. Also in with things is a small, but nicely done photo etch fret. This set is for the cowl flaps and engine accessory compartment vents.

All the rest of the detail parts and the cockpit are in resin. This includes the engine, prop hub, exhaust, tail wheel insert, and main wheel wells. A bit of sprue stretching will be needed as well.

The kit's instructions are well drawn and provide colors using the Gunze range. Generic names are also provided for those who cannot obtain Gunze paints. There are detail drawings for those areas where alignment or placement is critical. Both markings options are olive drab with medium green edge splotches on the upper side and neutral grey undersides. The only difference between the two options are serial number and the extended exhaust of the first option as shown on the box art. The decals are superbly printed by Aviprint and should work as well as any aftermarket sheets.


Here is yet another fine short run kit from the folks at Special Hobby. Thanks to their work, we have good kits of some of the less well known aircraft types. This will make a nice addition to your collection.



December 2010

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