by: Darren Baker [ ]
A-26 Invader was a remarkable aircraft seeing service with the United States Air Force at the end of the Second World War, through the Korean War and even saw service during the Vietnam War; this aircraft also served with the French during the Indo-Chino War before the Americans got involved and later Algeria. The B-26 was tested and trialled early during World War 2, but due to requirements placed upon the Douglas Aircraft Company from contracts already in existence a production aircraft was not completed until 1944; a real shame when you consider just how effective this aircraft turned out to be. There was no A variant of the B-26 built as a production aircraft due to I believe the time between the trials aircraft and a production aircraft being completed, but there were a lot of different set ups tested, even a night fighter version was produced but lost out to the P-61 due to the manufacturing of the P-61 already being in production. When this aircraft finally went into production it resulted in an aircraft that was forgiving in flight, sturdy, well armed in various configurations and effective at both low and medium height. Letís take a look at this all latest 1/48th scale model offering from ICM of a World War 2 A-26C-15 Invader.
This offering of the A-26 is packaged in the usual way favoured by ICM and approved of by me; a cardboard tray with flip top lid that provides a high degree of protection and a separate card lid with all of the artwork on it. Inside you will find an instruction booklet with the decal sheet inside. The model parts are in a single re-sealable bag that also contains the clear mouldings in their own bag. An initial inspection does not cause me any concerns beyond some flow lines in the larger mouldings, but these pass the look and feel test.
The internals of this model are surprisingly wide reaching and well produced by ICM. The internal frame structure is replicated from the nose all the way passed the rear of the bomb bay to the rear crew compartment. The cockpit is a fairly simple affair due to the aircraft not requiring a co-pilot. The dials, radios and the like look good and should with careful painting bring the interior to life, I also appreciate that ICM has included decals for the instrument panel but no effort has been made to provide the seat harness either moulded or as a decal and this detail is needed in models of this scale. Bomb racks and bombs have been provided in this release from ICM, but you only get four not the eight that I believe were carried. The mid upper turret has received attention from ICM and results in a well detailed area both inside and out; I do think that watching companies such as Master for turned barrels will lift this model even further, but if you have a steady hand drilling the muzzles is another option.
This offering of the A-26 differs from the earlier two releases due to the glazed nose for the bomb aimer. This aspect of the model has been supplied with good quality glazed parts that will allow a good view of the area inside. A side note here that I approve strongly of is that ICM has supplied patterns for making paint masks for the glazed areas of the model and covered their application. I feel this is a great aspect for the modeller on a budget as it is one less item that the modeller will need to look to purchase. The bomb aimersí workspace has been well catered to in many respects from the floor detail to the airframe and attachments. The bomb sight has been tackled with three separate pieces which provides a reasonable representation. With the glazed nose now being covered the nose weight will need to be added to the engine nacelles and I am thankful that ICM has provided the required weight that needs to be added to each one.
Looking at the fuselage of the model and an issue comes to light on the right hand half of the fuselage; the frame detail on the interior of that side has caused light ridges on the exterior and so it will require filling on this example or so I believed, but it has been pointed out to me that the internal structure does cause distortion on the exterior and so this could be classed as a very nice touch. The panel lines are nice and lightly engraved which results in a pleasing look. I have tried to check the panel lines and failed to find enough good reference and so I cannot say if they are 100% accurate with any certainty. Due to the way that ICM has tackled this release and the future releases in the works it does mean that there are some large panels that need to be added to the fuselage and it is only as these are added that the fuselage assembly will become stable so take care with the handling. The number of panels that need to be added has caused some issues during the build process of the previous model. These issues come to light as you add the panels to the model and resulted in filling being required in a few places which damages some of those lovely panel lines. I am not going to complain about this too loudly as the finesse of the parts has caused this issue and it is an issue that I believe will be hard to avoid.
Moving onto the flight surfaces and controls left me pleased with what I found. ICM has supplied all of the flight control surfaces as separate parts and means that the modeller can decide how they wish to display them despite the instructions only showing them in a neutral position. The engraved panel lines here are again finely replicated and so pleasing to my eye. the various wing weapon options require the modeller to open the needed locators and I give ICM special merit for including the needed drill sizes for the openings and also clearly identifying what holes are for what. The wings on larger models can end up with droop occurring; in order to prevent this ICM has the modeller securely fit the wings together and then later using structural slides inside the wings that attach to braces extending from the fuselage, this should allow the wings to be secured in the correct orientation and set before adding the weight of the engine nacelles and undercarriage; not forgetting that this is where the weight to prevent a tail sitter is now located.
The clear parts for the model are of a very good standard being of a reasonable thickness with a high level of clarity. The detail present on the parts used with this offering do match online reference so far as I can see. To repeat I was very pleased to find glazing mask pattern included.
The nacelles on this offering have a lot of detail moulded into them in the area of the undercarriage and pleasing shallow engraved panel lines. Unusually for nacelles these are assembled off of the model with the undercarriage doors open. They are then added to the model minus the undercarriage and engine, I like this approach as it prevents parts getting in the way or damaged as building progresses. I also appreciate that ICM has included a front and rear panel in the wheel wells and so providing detail on all faces. The undercarriage itself looks good with excellent diamond pattern on the wheels; the wheels are supplied in two halves and so any seams will be hard to rectify. The struts look to be accurate when compared to images showing the legs, but it does mean I can only view the visible portion of the struts. I like that the scissors have been provided separately and I believe only requires the break cabling be provided by the modeller. The undercarriage was an issue on the Invader and during the trials had to be altered and strengthened, but from what I can see in my reference the undercarriage continued to be an issue, in one case even collapsing on a static aircraft that is a feat in itself.
ICM has a good record of providing engines to their models and this offering of the A-26 is no exception with two Pratt & Whitney R 2800 engines included. ICM has provided both banks of cylinders with each bank in two halves. The required exhausts are included as separate parts and with some work by the modeller will look very good. The ignition harness has been replicated for the engines, but due to being in plastic it would benefit from being used as a pattern and fine wire used instead. There were several variants of the R 2800 built and used in this aircraft and I am told they can be told apart by the details on the cone and in this case a smooth cone is present; I am no expert in this field and so can only say they look good to me for the model. The R 2800 served in a huge number of aircraft during the war and its reliability also saw it serving well after as well. The cowlings for the engines are positioned in a way on the sprue that one of mine again came free but without damage, the detail provided on the cowlings are good and have the correct lip mounted air intake present. Displaying the engines is not easy from an accuracy standpoint, but with a little extra work on the firewall and improved detail on some areas means leaving the whole cowling off would seem the best way of displaying the engines. I have to thank Gary Buchanan for pointing out that a guide piece is included for getting the exhausts correctly positioned and orientated as I have missed this on two other occasions.
The external weaponry provided for this model is nicely replicated and varied in choice, but there is the issue of what to add or not to add and that is not clearly covered by the instructions from ICM. I very strongly suggest that those who seek to perfectly replicate an aircraft some online searches are undertaken to clarify this detail, or of course you can add what you wish to.
ICM has provided three finishing options for this model, but of course there are already alternative decals for the model if you want to finish it differently. I like that ICM has provided a top and bottom view covering decal placement as this is often overlooked on large models. The decals themselves are of a very good thickness as I cannot feel them on the carrier paper. The finishing options provided are:
A-26C-160DT, 553rd BS/386th BG, A60 Beaumont-sur-Osie, France, March 1945
A-26C-20DT, 86th BS/47th BG, Grosseto, Italy, Early 1945
A-26C-30DT, 553rd BS/646th BG, A60 Beaumont-sur-Osie, France, June 1945
This is the third offering of the A-26 in 1/48th scale from ICM and I am pleased with what I am offered in the box. The finesse of the parts has created a very good level of detail, but has the possible consequence that filler will be needed in places. Complaint wise I can only really say I would like to see the seat harnesses tackled from the box rather than needing scratch work or aftermarket parts. On the plus side we get a lot of interior detail that is a boon for the large glazed areas to display. The radial engines are a very nice inclusion as is the ability to display that detail. Finally having built one of these models I am pleased with how the wing attachment and the undercarriage has been tackled in the model.
A-26 Invader in Action Ė No 134