Douglas A-20G Havoc early block models in Europe.

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Shessi, Mar 23, 2021.

  1. Shessi

    Shessi Junior Member

    Hi Folks,
    Could anyone help please, with info regarding the early block model A-20G Havocs, fitted with the cannon/MG nose and the non-turreted rear gunners position (as with the RAF Bostons), and their use by the US (& possibly RAF?) forces in the European Theatre?

    Although some 1000 aircraft of this version were built (and maybe later converted to carry a rear turret?), there is very little photo evidence of this version. There are some pics of them being used in the Pacific theatre, but not in Europe.

    Many thanks in advance.

  2. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Aircraft SQ - K Douglas A-20G-35-DO Havoc

    A-20 Havoc bombers of US 410th Bomb Group based at RAF Gosfield, England, United Kingdom, circa late 1944

    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
  3. Temujin

    Temujin Member

  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The Douglas A-20 Havoc/Boston in Soviet Service
    Indeed, A-20Gs were initially meant to be used solely by USAAF units; neither the Soviet Union nor the RAF were meant to receive the gunships. Nevertheless, due to the VVS’ need for and effective use of the twin-engine aircraft, a total of 1,606 G variants, nearly half of those produced, were sent to the Soviet Union, where they were given the nickname Zhuchok, meaning little bug (the suffix G is pronounced Zh in Russian, thus leading to the nickname).


    1/48 A-20G Havoc

  5. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    A Douglas A-20 Havoc light bomber of the 9th USAAF is seen over enemy territory a few seconds before the fatal burst of flak hit the plane. Note black puffs of flak near one wing."

    - A-20G 43-9502 took a direct hit from flak, obliterating the entire tail unit. Pilot, 1Lt Thomas G. Walsh, was KIA. Both gunners, however, managed to bail out and were taken prisoner. MACR 7932

    UPL 33368 | American Air Museum in Britain

  6. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Failed to Return (FTR) Grand-Couronne, France 4 August 1944
    Shot down by AA fire E of Grand-Couronne on a mission to Rouen, France on 4 August 1944. Pilot 1Lt Thomas Gerald Walsh KIA, gunner Sgt Karl Waldemar Haeuser POW and gunner SSgt Fred Herman POW. MACR 7932

    Production block number

    43-9502 | American Air Museum in Britain
  7. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Douglas A-20G-35-DO Havoc

    410 Bomb Group on the way to target in Europe

  8. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Unidentified A-20G of the 644th Bomb Sq, 410th BG


  9. Shessi

    Shessi Junior Member

    Temujin and TD,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, appreciate it......but...these are all turreted late block A-20G model Havocs. Great pics and info as they are, and the use by the Russians, but it's the US usage of the early block non-turreted A-20G Havocs that I'm interested in.

    So, dig deep, and see if you have anything on this specific subject..thanks.

  10. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Some information here. The turret was introduced on the G-20 which left 700 of the earlier blocks without it, produced from Feb 1943.
    Douglas A-20G Havoc

    The 409th, 410th and 416th BGs who were the main USAAF users of the A20 in NWE didn’t arrive in Britain until Feb-April 1944. I would have thought it probable that they only brought the later turreted versions with them.

    The RAF did not receive any A-20G.

    Looking through “Air Arsenal North America” which gives the serials of all A-20G sent to the USSR it is clear that the vast majority of those 700 early A-20G went there. The USSR received 1447 A-20G.
  11. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Info removed......repeat of info that was posted above so didn’t need it here.....sorry
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
  12. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member


    Went through my copy of this book. The electric Martin Turret was introduced in the A-20G-20 series, 350 being delivered from August 1943. The UK based A-20 units did not use the non-turreted G according to Wolf.
  13. Shessi

    Shessi Junior Member

    Thanks Ewen,
    That's mostly what I thought, also about the RAF not having the G models.

    Yes, most of the early cannon armed A-20G block 1 ac went to the Russians, but not all. And there's no info I can find about what happened to the 500+ A-20G block 5 / 10 / 15, that had the .50's fitted in place of the cannon. As you say the units did use them in the Pacific campaign (see pic attached, an A-20G block 10 of the 417BG, 674th BS in Papua New Guinea), but what happened to them? Were they later converted to turreted versions?; Were they left as they were and sent to Russia?; Were they returned to the US to be used for training? Or were they used later in Italy and the European campaigns?

    Thanks Temujin/Orwell (after you helped me last time on Havoc NFs, I bought the book), yes I have that from Wolf's 'bible' on the Havoc, unfortunately there's no info in that book on specifics of what happened to them.

    The attached pic seems to be the only pic of an MG fitted early block A-20 with gunner position, I have found on the net, which is odd for 500 such fitted ac?! 417BG_674th_BS_A-20_42-54081.jpg
  14. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

  15. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    If you had read what I said, I referred to the majority of 700 (should have been 750) going to USSR. And the link I gave shows only 250 G-1 built. The rest were G-5/10/15.

    Anyway I’ve broken down the numbers for you.

    G-1 250 built. 237 to USSR. Leaves 13 with USAAF.
    G-5 50 built. 31 to USSR. Leaves 19 with USAAF.
    G-10 300 built. 80 to USSR. 26 conversions to P-70A-1 nightfighters. Leaves 194 with USAAF as attack aircraft.
    G-15 150 built. 99 to USSR. 20 conversions to P-70A-1 nightfighters. Leaves 31 with the USAAF as attack aircraft.

    So 447 or 60% of those aircraft went to the USSR. 46 NF conversions and 257 left as attack aircraft for the USAAF. Note Soviet receipts do not always match USAAF dispatches due to losses along the way. The Soviets refused to pay (via Lend lease) for those losses.

    As for the nightfighters I suspect that most of them went to the night fighter training squadrons in Florida. IIRC the only NF unit to use the P-70 in combat was the 6th NFS in the Pacific.

    A USAAF light bomb group had a unit equipment of 96 aircraft. In the Pacific the A-20 equipped 312th and 417th BG both arrived in the Pacific in late 1943/early 1944 to join the partially A-20 equipped 3rd and 38th BG in 5th AF. So plenty of Pacific based units to absorb those 257 early aircraft.

    The 417th BG, part of the 5th Air Force, used G-10 models. Why? Because you have photos and because in Sept 1944 the RAAF received 6 of that model with 5 coming from that unit. The RAAF had already received later G-40/45 models on loan and the 6 G-10s saw little operational use. The RAAF handed back all its A-20s in early 1945 when its sole squadron re-equipped with Beaufighters.
    Douglas Boston

    As for what happened to the survivors, Sept 1944 saw 5th AF units generally re-equipping with later models of whatever they were flying, p-38s and B-25s come to mind. Probably because European demand was falling as no more new units were being sent there, just replacement aircraft to cover losses. The USAAF had a number of airfields in the Markham Valley area of New Guinea around Nadzab for aircraft maintenance. Old aircraft were sent there and new ones collected. The old ones were then used for training in theatre or for salvaging spares to keep others flying. At the end of the war anything left there, or in other such facilities in New Guinea, was simply scrapped often just by bulldozing it into a pit.
  16. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

  17. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Bostons began operations with the 2nd TAF in late 1943.In August 1944 squadrons started to receive the Boston Mark 1V equipped with a power operated dorsal turret.

    Over 250 Boston Mark1Vs and Boston Vs were transferred from the USAAF to the RAF which were known by the USAAF as the A-20G and A-20 J Havocs respectively where they served in France in the 2nd TAF, the Desert Air Force in Italy supporting ground forces to the end of the European war.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
  19. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    The Boston IV was the A-20J in USAAF service while the A-20K became the Boston V.

    The A-20G was not used by the RAF.

    The Boston began service with 2nd TAF in late 1943 because that Tactical Air Force came into existence on 1 June 1943. Early versions, called Havocs, entered service as night fighters and intruders in April 1941. Later the Boston III versions entered operational service in early 1942 with 2 Group Bomber Command in the U.K. and in the Middle East and then Italy with the Desert Air Force.

    Edit:- 2 Group Bomber Command transferred to 2nd TAF on its formation in 1943.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
  20. Shessi

    Shessi Junior Member

    I did read your first reply, and your last post on the block breakdown, thank you for both. I agree that is probably what happened to the early block A-20G's later on, it's just the annoying blank area of the lack of definitive info and pics of those 257 US aircraft??
    I've found another 417th BG A-20G pic (see below), along with the previous one I attached, is the only evidence of an mg nose and gunners position US A-20G in 'action' I can find. A-20G_42-54122_417th_BG.jpg

    Thanks Itdan for those pics. Even those, the first pic is actually a late block turreted A-20G, and the others are the early block cannon armed aircraft which unfortunately neither look operational.

    Has anyone a list with the build/bureau number of the aircraft in my attached pics which are 42-54081 and 42-54122, or those aircraft movements within the 417th BG?


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