by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Gloster Gladiator bi-plane was used by the Royal Air Force and The Royal Navy [Sea Gladiator]. It was exported to a number of other air forces during the late 1930s. It was the RAF's last biplane fighter aircraft and was rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs even as it was being introduced. Though often pitted against more formidable foes during the early days of the WWII, it acquitted itself reasonably well in combat.
The Gladiator saw action in almost all theatres during the Second World War, with a large number of air forces, some of them on the Axis side. The RAF used it in France, Greece, Malta, Norway and the brief Anglo-Iraqi War in which the Royal Iraqi Air Force was similarly equipped. Other countries deploying the Gladiator included China against Japan, beginning in 1938; Finland, along with Swedish volunteers against the Soviet Union in the Winter War and the Continuation War. The Gladiator was also used by Norway, Belgium, and Greece resisting Axis invasion of their respective lands.
South African Marmaduke “Pat” Pattle was the top Gladiator ace with 15 victories over Italian aircraft, his aircraft is featured as one of the marking options.
This conversion set is designed for any 1/72 Gloster Gladiator kit.
Within the vac formed clear plastic blister is:
-1 x pilots seat.
-1 x belly fuel tank.
-1 x Fairey Reed three-bladed metal propeller.
-1 x Watts two bladed wooden propeller.
-1 x air filter.
-2 x main wheels.
-1 x arrestor hook.
-1 x decal sheet cut in two.
-1 x eight page construction and markings guide.
Pilots seat beautifully cast, translucently thin, nicely shaped, with very finely cast harnesses, buckles and a seat adjustment lever. You will need to exercise a little care separating the seat from the attached casting block.
Belly fuel tank Nicely cast and is attached to its casting block via two small flow channels. Features some recessed panel detail.
Propellers the two types are supplied. The one piece two bladed Watts propeller is a little gem. The leading and trailing edges of the blades are thin, while the centre of the blades have a little more meat. The attachment bolts at the front are beautifully done, worth the money alone. There are three very thin attachment points to the resin block.
The three bladed Fairey reed propeller is one piece. The leading and trailing edges of the blades need a little thinning, but look very good. The attachment point to the casting block is at the tips of two of the blades. With a little care there should be no no damage when detaching the unit from the casting block. There is thin resin flash between two blades and the casting block, which should present no problems when removing.
Air filter as attached to the Gladiators operating in the desert. The grill at the mouth of the intake has some very fine detail.
Main wheels some good attention to detail here, very subtle detail on the wheel centre covers.
Arrestor hook no hiding the fact that this very delicate piece of casting is going to be challenging to cut away from the casting block and the two areas of resin flash. The hook itself is well defined and will be well worth the effort.
Decal sheet Although it is two sheets in reality it's a single sheet that's been cut to fit into the packaging. The sheet may be familiar to some of you if you have the lovely Pavla 1/72 kit of the Gloster Gladiator. The quality of the decals look excellent; thin, with good colour depth, registration and minimum carrier film. I particularly like the fuselage markings of the 87 squadron aircraft. Printed by Boa for Pavla Models.
Instructions Simple but effective. The were a little scrunched up so that they would fit into the packaging. There is a parts map that includes a drawing for the location of the arrestor hook. Colour instruction are a little confusing at first as options II and III are duplicated. This reviewer spent quite a few minutes trying to spot the difference between the duplicated drawings. There isn't, just a printing error me thinks.
Painting instructions includes the four colour upper wings of the Sea Gladiators. Also appreciated are the two views of the inner and outer surfaces of the Watts two bladed propeller a they are painted different colours. Options II, III and IV have the under surfaces painted half black half white. A nice touch is the illustration showing the difference between the aluminum coloured doped areas and the unpainted metal surfaces of the pre war 87 Squadron aircraft.
Markings there are five choices of markings with this set: one pre WWII and the others are during WWII. Due to a printing error there looks like there are seven options, two options are printed twice in the painting guide.
I Gladiator Mk I K8027 No 87 [F] Squadron, Debden, United Kingdom, October 1937.
II Gladiator Mk I L8011 No 80 Squadron, flown by F/Lt. Marmaduke T St John “Pat” Patlle, Amriya, Egypt, early 1940.
III Gladiator Mk II N5585/B “ANZAC AnswerNo 247 Squadron, flown by P/O N I C Francis, Roborough, August 1940.
IV Sea Gladiator N5519 R “Charity” of the Hal Far Fighter Flight, flown by F/Lt. George Burgess, Hal Far, Malta, June 1940.
V Sea Gladiator N5567/6-C No 813 NAS Fighter Flight, flown by Lt. A N Young and Lt. R H Oliphant, HMS Eagle, Mediterranean Sea, Summer 1940.
This is a very welcome release from Pavla Models particularly if you fancy building a Sea Gladiator. Not the most complex conversion, but it will offer the modeler the chance of painting the unusual four colour disruptive camouflage scheme of Royal Naval WWII bi planes.