by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Gloster Gladiator was the last biplane fighter to enter service with the RAF, entering service in 1937 and was then withdrawn from frontline service in 1941. By the time World War 2 got going, the RAF was equipped largely with the Hawker Hurricane and Super Marine Spitfire, but the Gloster Gladiator still served an important role during the war having been the fighter that many British pilots cut their teeth on, and of course continued to serve during the war. In addition to service with the RAF the Gladiator served with the Royal Navy and many European Air Forces. During World War 2 the Gladiator served as part of many Commonwealth Air Forces with Faith, Hope and Charity being especially well known Gladiators. Lastly the Gladiator also flew with Chinese forces against the Japanese and won some incredible victories.
This release from ICM in 1/32nd scale of the Gloster Gladiator is the third release and I hope it is as pleasing as the first release. This offering being the Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk II it is largely the same as the original release, but letís take a look and see what has changed.
This offering is supplied in the now usual flip top cardboard box favoured by ICM with a second separate card lid with the artwork on it; as a modeller I do appreciate a well packaged offering and I feel ICM is one of the best in this respect. The artwork on the lid is very nicely done and will draw your eye to the box I believe. Inside the box is an instruction booklet with the decals protected between the pages. The sprues are packed inside a single re-sealable plastic bag with a further bag holding the clear parts.
An examination of the contents leaves me happy as while the plastic suffers from some flow lines they do not look or feel to have caused any issues with the finish of the parts. The clear parts of the model have a nice thinness to them and this has resulted in no obvious lens magnification that I could see across the parts; there is a clear piece marked as not for use and this is the front canopy for the original release. The decals have great colour but feel a little on the thick side which may result in issues during application.
Identification of a Mk II from a Mk I Gladiator:
The engine is an 830 hp Mercury Mk X
Two bladed Watts propeller
Large prop spinner that can be removed
The MK II
The engine is an 830 hp Mercury Mk VIIIA
Fairey-Reed three-bladed propeller
Much smaller propeller spinner that is always in place
Mk II has a slightly alternate front canopy glazing
Vokes Air Filter used on both Mk I and II aircraft when serving in the desert; take note on which version you are building. This offering of the Mk II offers an alternate style of intake filter but I cannot find information on it in my reference.
This being a Sea Gladiator an arrestor hook and dingy pack is now included with the model. It should be noted that the Fleet Air Arm continued to fly the Gloster Gladiator after its withdrawal from front line service, and it was very common to see aircraft without the arrestor hook and dingy pack installed.
The interior of the model is almost identical to the original release and that is correct so far as I can see, but ICM has correctly altered the instrument display to the correct layout for the Mk II Gladiator and I am pleased that this change was picked up on. The release handles on the doors both left and right are a very weak on detail and will benefit from some work if a door is to be shown open. Something to remember is that the door on the left was the one usually opened unless damaged. A big weakness here and one that I wish ICM had addressed in this release is the harness detail for the pilot, I know they are more than capable to do this but it has been left to the modeller to scratch build or search the aftermarket. As I said in the build I did of the Mk I the detail provided is correct, but leaves room for further improvement depending on the ability of the modeller.
The detail on the fuselage panel detail is exceptionally accurate along the sides and top of the fuselage. I am really impressed with the effort that ICM has put into the detail on the fuselage. You will need to do some filling of the mating surfaces, but that is not exactly an unheard-of issue with any manufacturer. As this model is basically the same model as the Mk I with some modifications the fitting of the fuselage in the front of the cockpit is pain and it will fight you, plus due to the plastic being thin it could be easily distorted by pressure. Once you get it closed up my previous experience is that the result is generally pleasing and accurate; the addition of some Mr. Surfacer 500 and light sanding will correct the issues found here.
The wings are a thing of beauty in this release from ICM. The profiles from above and head on look to be a perfect match. The detail provided is exceptionally accurate with the modeller just needing to consider the placement of the aerial mounting on the upper wing. I recommend pre-drilling the wings ready for tensioning cables that will ideally be added by the modeller and I am very pleased to see that the four wing supports furthest from the fuselage have well designed recesses for the support to sit in and create a really strong bonding area. The finesse of the wings does mean that great care is needed when removing the parts from the sprue, and I did find that cutting the locators off at the end of the wings in the previous release resulted in cleaner joints. I did find getting the support arms attached to the fuselage a fight in the previous model and I do not see any changes to make that aspect easier. The tail of the aircraft has also been well tackled well and is again accurate as regards my reference. I again like that ICM has provided all of the control surfaces as separate parts allowing the modeller to place as desired on the model.
The undercarriage has great detail provided by ICM including the tread of the tyre; I will say I would have liked to see the wheels supplied weighted as an option in the model. The tail wheel has to be added when you close up the fuselage and could be easily damaged. I was pleased to see that ICM supplied the tail wheel separate from the support leg.
The engine in this model is a stunning all plastic offering which despite having one difference to the original release builds into a stunning feature of the model that can be reasonable well displayed. When building the model I do suggest that the exhausts are added after the engine is attached to the fuselage as I struggled getting these well placed in the original release when it comes to getting them between the legs of the undercarriage. The fixed pitch Fairey-Reed three-bladed propeller has been nicely done in this release and gives the Gladiator a very different look.
ICM has provided two angled drawings in the instruction sheet as a guide to stringing the model and I have to say this is far superior to the approach in the original release which was not as clear as these provide. Another very nice inclusion from ICM in this release is the cut out guide for making a set of canopy masks.
ICM has provided four finishing options straight from the box and these all have the same finish from above and the sides, one of the four options does have an alternate finish when viewed from below. In order to cover the finishes ICM has supplied side views of all of the variants and shown the flight surfaces from above and below that give the modeller clear guidance on painting the model. The four options are:
Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk II, No 804 Squadron, RNAS Hatston, Orkney Islands, October 1940
Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk II, No 804 Squadron, HMS Furious, May 1940
Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk II, No 813 Squadron, HMS Eagle, Summer 1940
Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk II, Hal Far, Malta, June 1940
This is the third offering of the Gloster Gladiator from ICM in 1/32nd scale with this offering being the Sea Gladiator Mk II and the addition of some minor changes to the underside of the aircraft; If you intend to replicate a specific Sea Gladiator make sure to check if an arrestor hawk and dingy pack was in place. As with the first offering I am for the most part very pleased with what ICM has supplied and the changes they have made in both the model and the instructions. The only aspect of the model that I can really knock is the lack of harness in the cockpit. On the plus side the areas that I am particularly pleased with are the guide for stringing the model, the plan that enables the modeller to cut out canopy masks and the wonderful engine detail. The next change I am looking forward too is the Gladiators with skies fitted.