Douglas A-20 / DB-7 / Boston / Havoc
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Douglas A-20 / DB-7 / Boston / Havoc

The original DB-7 was built as a private venture, produced to the order of the French government. The first production DB-7 flew on 17 August 1939. When France fell the undelivered aircraft outstanding from French contracts were taken over by the British government and given the name Boston. Production for the RAF, USAAF, US Navy and Russia ceased on 20 September 1944 after well over 7,000 had been built. Russia received twice as many as the RAF and only some 800 less than the US Army.

As delivered to the RAF from the French contracts, the Boston I was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3G-4G engines. It was used mainly for training duties, although some were converted for night fighting and given the British name Havoc. The A-20 was the first of the series built to a US Army specification and was powered by two 1,112kW Wright R-2600-7 Cyclone engines with exhaust-driven turbo-superchargers. It was fitted with American armament and equipment.

As the Boston II for the RAF, the A-20 had R-2600-A5B engines and British armament. Those converted into night fighters became Havocs each with a lengthened nose fitted with 12 forward-firing 7.62mm guns, AI radar and other special equipment depending on the sub-variant - one carried a high-power searchlight in the nose. As an intruder it carried a crew of three and full armament and bombs.

The A-20A for the USAAC/USAAF was powered by two 1,192kW Wright R-2600-11 engines with integral two-speed superchargers. The A-20B was an experimental development of the A-20A, armed with two 12.7mm guns firing forward, one 12.7mm upper flexible gun, one 7.62mm lower flexible gun, and one 7.62mm gun in the tail of each engine nacelle, firing aft. Nacelle guns were remotely controlled by a foot trigger in the rear compartment. The A-20C was powered by two similarly rated R-2600-23 engines. Armament comprised four fixed guns (two on each side of the transparent nose), two on a flexible mounting in the rear cockpit, and one in the lower rear-firing position - all 7.62mm (A20G) or 7.69mm (British Boston Ill). Ejector-type exhaust stacks replaced the collector rings used on the earlier models and range was increased by the addition of a self-sealing fuel tank in the forward and rear bomb-bay compartments. Provision was also made on some aircraft to carry a 900kg naval torpedo.

The Boston III was powered by R-2600-A5B engines and carried a crew of four as a bomber. The Boston IIIA was similar but built by Boeing. Some Boston III/IIIA were fitted as intruders with four 20mm cannon under the forward fuselage, four 7.69mm guns in the nose, and two 7.69mm guns in the upper flexible position.

Following the experimental XA-20E, with a 37mm nose cannon and General Electric turrets, the A-20G appeared. This was similar to the A-20C except that the transparent bombardier nose was replaced by a solid nose fitted (in earlier versions) with four 20mm cannon and two 12.7mm machine-guns and ultimately with six 12.7mm guns. A few also had a single 12.7mm upper flexible gun, but this was soon replaced by a power-driven turret armed with two 12.7mm guns. Thicker armour for increased crew protection on ground-attack missions was also added.

The A-20H was powered by two 1,267kW R-2600-29 engines and incorporated minor improvements. The A-20J was identical to the later version of the A-20G except that the attack nose was replaced by a moulded-plastic bombardier's nose incorporating bombing controls and flight navigation instruments. One in ten A-20G were completed as A-20J to serve as squadron lead planes. Armament consisted of two 12.7mm machine-guns (one in each side of the transparent nose), two in the power-operated dorsal turret and one in the lower rear firing position.

The A-20K was identical to the A-20H except that the attack nose was replaced by a bombardier's nose, as with the A-20J. The British Boston V was similar. Special US versions of the A-20 appeared as the P-70 night fighter with R-2600-11 engines and armed with four 20mm cannon mounted in a fairing beneath the fuselage bomb bay; the P-70A conversion of the A-20G with R-2600-23 engines and six 12.7mm machine-guns in a solid nose and dorsal and lower guns; the P-70B development of the P-70A for training, with six 12.7mm 'package' guns and special radar (converted A-20G/J); the F-3A night photographic-reconnaissance conversion of the A-20J/K; and BD-1/2 target tugs for the US Navy.

Douglas A-20 / DB-7 / Boston / Havoc

 ENGINE2 x Wright R-2600-23 Cyclone 14, 1193kW
    Take-off weight12338 kg27201 lb
    Empty weight7250 kg15984 lb
    Wingspan18.69 m61 ft 4 in
    Length14.63 m48 ft 0 in
    Height5.36 m18 ft 7 in
    Wing area43.20 m2465.00 sq ft
    Max. speed510 km/h317 mph
    Cruise speed370 km/h230 mph
    Ceiling7620 m25000 ft
    Range1650 km1025 miles
 ARMAMENT9 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 1800kg of bombs

Douglas A-20 / DB-7 / Boston / Havoc

Klaatu83, 20.08.2015

A radar-equipped night-fighter version of the Havoc was also produced for the USAAF, known as the P-70 "Nighthawk". 163 were manufactured as an interim measure until the aircraft the AAF really wanted, the Northrop P-61 "Black Widow", became available. The P-70 was never regarded as entirely satisfactory because, being derived from an attack-bomber, it's engines were optimized for operation at low-to-medium altitudes, and their power output fell off at higher altitudes.

Dante, 09.05.2015

Lew, did you know Don Reed pilot a20 later colonel reed. He was my mothers second husband, Purple Heart winner and injured in the 46th over North Africa. I think it was at kasserine pass?

LEW DILLON, 07.02.2015


Harold Hiskes, 19.01.2015

There is an A-20 Havoc on display in the museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. I have heard that there are 3 known to exist of the 10,ooo + built. (Most went to the Russians. There were 3 A-20 bomb groups in Europe, the 409th, 410th, and the 416th. I'm not sure about the Pacific. In Europe they were part of the 9th Air Force. I lost an uncle (pilot) 12-25-44 shot down over Germany.

S Korth, 18.01.2015

I lost an uncle Sept 6, 1945, when his A20 went down off the Okinawa coast. He and his crew members were never recovered. I wish I could find more info on this incident.

Daryl, 23.12.2013

I found an A-20G in the moumtains of Papua New Guinea. I have pictures of it. I found the remains of its 3 crew members. It was quite an experience. I found it in 1971.

Dennebouy, 18.10.2011

I live near Valognes in Normandie ,andd I'm just starting research about this A20 shoot during WWII and downed at Tamerville .
Regards ,

pree, 18.06.2011

I flew him overhead (low level) the field in 1991 which all will know, no longer exists. Father is no longer with us but looks down and keeps an eye. RB

, 18.06.2011

Boston / Havoc

Klaatu, 31.05.2011

On July 4th, 1942 the first offensive mission flown over Europe by the USAAF during World War II was carried out in these aircraft.

It has always struck me as odd that this particular airplane should have been so successful and so widely used, and yet at the same time be so forgotten. I'm not sure if a single example exists anywhere in the world.

M. A. Walek, 20.02.2011

My Father loved flying in this airplane, He said it was so well armed and fast that when German Fighters attacked him they we shocked at all the fire power that the A-20 could throw back at them and usually would only make one pass.
He got hit over Valgones France on D-Day June 6 1944 by German 88 flack guns and all of the crew except him perished. He Bailed out but was captured and spent the rest of the war in several different prison camps. His tombstone carries these words" Major Michael Walek
Loving Father and Husband
Veteran of WWII , Korea and Vietnam" He was a true American..

Garnett Stancil, 23.01.2011

One of my most prized possessions is the revolver, holster, military records, and photo of a gunner (from Alabama) with his pilot standing in front of an A-20.

p, 31.07.2009

does it have a rear gun that was so tight that you had to lay down??

Richard Benjamin, 08.06.2009

My father served in the RAF as ground engineer service personel for this aircraft during ww2 at RAF West Malling, Kent. I flew him overhead (low level) the field in 1991 which all will know, no longer exists. Father is no longer with us but looks down and keeps an eye. RB

Rick Watson, 26.04.2008

My wife's dad went down in one off of New Guinie(ran out fuel on the way back from a mission-they never recovered his body god bless his brave soul!

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