MPM’s 1/72 Northrop A-17A

By Chris Banyai-Riepl


The Northrop A-17 was an early Army monoplane dive-bomber featuring fixed undercarriage and a large set of dive brakes.  While the standard A-17 was being produced Northrop made some design changes, resulting in a new aircraft with retractable landing gear and featuring the Wasp Junior engine.  The USAAF took delivery of the first A-17As in 1937 and the plane served as a fast and effective attack aircraft until 1939 when they were relegated to training duties.

The Kit

Who would have thought that we’d have a decent injection-molded kit of the A-17A, but MPM has always released the more eclectic aircraft and this definitely fits the bill.  The kit comes molded in the usual light gray plastic, with finely recessed panel lines throughout.  The canopy is injection-molded as well and is thin and clear.  One piece of resin rounds out the parts, this being the propeller hub.  A decent decal sheet provides markings for four aircraft.

Taking a deeper look at the kit, the cockpit is well detailed, with separate front and rear sections.  Sidewall detail is molded on the fuselage halves, and while the basics are there some additional wiring & plumbing would go a long way to making the innards look busier.  The front office has a separate floor & bulkhead as well as a separate rudder pedal block and control stick.  The rear cockpit gets a three-piece gun trough and a three piece gun mount, as well as a separate floor.  The front seat has a separate rear piece, while the rear seat is a simple bucket (much like the real thing).  There are no seat belts included, though these would be simple to add.  The engine is just a front section on a disk, which is sandwiched between two halves of the nacelle.

The wings are made up from five pieces, with a center lower section incorporating part of the fuselage underside as well.  This keeps seams from appearing in the middle of those dive brakes and also helps keep everything aligned properly.  There are a few smaller inserts that fit into the front of the wing that might cause some fit problems, especially the two that go onto the upper wing right at the wing root leading edge, so you’ll want to do some careful test-fitting with these before attaching them.  The landing gear is pretty basic, being little more than a pair of struts and a couple of wheels.  The tailwheel is molded as two pieces, allowing for easier painting of the tailwheel & hub.  Finally, the propeller has separate blades matching up to the one-piece resin hub, resulting in a nice-looking prop.

The decal choices aren’t too spectacular, as the A-17A didn’t wear much in the way of camouflage.  Three of the four options are natural metal overall, while the last features a temporary camouflage on the upper surfaces for anti-aircraft exercises.  Starting with the overall natural metal planes, two are from the 90th Attack Squadron, 3rd Attack Group and differ only in the tail numbers and the dice on the fuselage sides.  Both have red cowlings and green anti-glare panels.  The third natural metal plane is from GHQAF and features the General Headquarters winged star on the fuselage side.  Finally, the camouflaged example is finished with maroon, sea green, dark green and olive green on the upper surfaces, while the undersides remained natural metal.  All examples have large “U.S. ARMY” on the lower wings.  The decals are well printed and have excellent register and should go down without any problems.


While the A-17A might not be on everyone’s most-wanted list, this is a very nice little kit and would make for a very interesting display set next to a Navy equivalent like the SBD or TBD.

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