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A-20A Havoc
US Army Air Corps Recovery Project

UAS is currently awaiting final government approval for the recovery of an Army Air Corps A-20A from Canada.  The project has received preliminary approval and UAS will start moving forward on this project once final approval is received.

Aircraft History

The origination of the A-20 Havoc began in March, 1937 when a design team headed by Donald Douglas, Jack Northrop and Ed Heinemann produced a proposal for a light bomber powered by a pair of 450 hp (340 kW) Pratt and Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engines assembled to a high-mounted wing.  It was designated the 7A and had an estimated 1000 lb. (450 kg) bomb load at 250 mph (400 km/h).  Reports of aircraft performance from the Spanish Civil War indicated that this design would be seriously underpowered and, subsequently, it was cancelled.

In autumn of the same year, the US Army Air Corps issued its own specification for an attack aircraft.  The Douglas team, now headed by Heinemann, took the Model 7A design, upgraded massively to 1100 hp (820 kW) Pratt and Whitney R-1830 S3C3-G Twin Wasp engines, and submitted the design as the Model 7B.  The Model 7B was maneuverable and fast, but did not attract any US orders.

A French order for the aircraft called for substantial modifications, and the new designationDB-7 (for Douglas Bomber 7) was introduced.  It had a narrower, deeper fuselage, 1000 hp (750 kW) Pratt and Whitney R-1830-SC3-G radials, French-built guns, and metric instruments.  Midway through the delivery phase, engines were switched to 1100 ho (820 kW) Pratt and Whitney R-1830-S3C4-G.  The French designation was DB-7 B-3 (the B-3 signifying "three-seat bomber").

The DB-7s were shipped in sections to Casablanca for assembly and service in France and French North Africa.  When the Germans attacked France and the Low Countries on May 10, 1940, the 64 available DB-7s were deployed against the advancing Panzers.  Before the armistice they were evacuated to North Africa to avoid capture by German forces.  Here, they fell under control from the Vichy government, but saw practically no action against the Allies except briefly during Operation Torch.  After French forces in North Africa had sided with the Allies, DB-7s were used as trainers and were replaced in frontline units by B-26 Marauders.  In early 1945, a few DB-7s were sent back to France where they saw action against the remaining isolated German pockets on the Western coast.

When DB-7 series production finally ended on September 20, 1944, a total of 7,098 had been built by Douglas and a further 380 by Boeing.  Some military historians consider it the third most important twin-engine aircraft of World War II, behind the Junkers Ju 88 and De Havilland Mosquito.  This is probably due to its extensive use by the Soviets, yet the DB-7 remains largely unknown.

Although not the fastest or longest-legged in its class, the Douglas DB-7 series distinguished itself as a though, dependable combat aircraft with an excellent reputation due to its turn of speed and good maneuverability.  In a report to the Airplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (AAEE) at Boscombe Down, test pilots summed it up as "has no vices and is very easy to takeoff and land...  The airplane represents a definite advantage in the design of flying controls...  extremely pleasant to fly and maneuver."  [1] Ex-pilots often consider it their favorite aircraft of the war due to the ability to toss it around like a fighter [2]. Its true impact was that the Douglas bomber/night fighter was extremely adaptable and found a role in every combat theater of the war and excelled as a true "pilot's airplane." [3]


The original American indifference to the Model 7B was overcome by the improvements made for the French and British, and the Army Air Corps ordered two models, the A-20 for high-altitude bombing and A-20A for lower altitude work.  Both were similar to the DB-7B, the A-20 was to be fitted with turbo supercharged Wright R-2600-7 engines, but these were bulky and the prototype suffered cooling problems, so the remainder were completed with the un-supercharged R-2600-11.


The US Army ordered 123 A-20As with the R-2600-3 engines, and a further 20 with more powerful R-2600-11.  They entered service in spring, 1941.  The Army liked the A-20A because of its excellent performance and because it had no adverse handling characteristics.  Nine of them were transferred to Australia in 1943.  The British name "Havoc" was adopted for the A-20A.

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 2-3
  • Length: 47 fft. 6 in. (14.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 61 ft. 4 in. (18.7 m )
  • Height: 17 ft. 7 in. (43.2 m2)
  • Wing  Area: 465 ft2 (43.2 m2)
  • Empty Weight: 15,051 lb. (6,827 kg)
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 20,320 lb. (9,215 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2x Wright R-2600-A5B "Double Cyclone" radial engines, 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) each

  • 4x fixed .30 caliber machine guns in the nose
  • 2x flexible .30 caliber machine guns, mounted dorsally
  • 1x flexible .30 caliber machine gun, mounted ventrally
Bombs: 2,000 lb. (900 kg)

Surviving Aircraft

Our current research finds that of over 7,478 aircraft constructed only 5 are currently in existence.  There are no A models known to be in existence as either restored or project aircraft.

A-20G 42-21709
In the collection of the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas

A-20G 43-22200
On display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio

A-20H 44-0020
Currently under restoration to flying condition in the Air Heritage Museum in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

A-20G 43-21664
Currently undergoing restoration in the UK

A-20C 41-19393
Parts donor aircraft for restoration of 43-21664 in the UK

References for Aircraft History

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-20_Havoc

1. Gann 1971, p.7
2. Winchester 2005, p.72
3. Taylor 1969, p.489
4. Winchester 2005, p.72
5. Winchester 2005, p.73

  • Gann, Harry.  The Douglas A-20 (7A to Boston III).  London: Profile Publications, 1971
  • Mesko, Jim.  A-20 Havoc in action.  Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1983.  ISBN 0-89747-131-8
  • Taylor, John W.R.  "Douglas DB-7, A-20 Havoc, and Boston (Bombers) and Douglas DB-7, Havoc, P-70 (Fighters)." Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present.  New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969.  ISBN 0-425-03633-2
  • Winchester, Jim, ed.  "Douglas A-20 Boston/Havoc."  Aircraft of World War II (The Aviation Factfile).  Kent, UK: Grange Books plc, 2004.  ISBN 1-84013-639-1

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