by: Andy Brazier [ ]
History The air war of World War II was, with some exceptions, a war of monoplanes. Their dawn came on just as the first shots of the Second World War began to ring out. The era of the biplane was coming to its end by the late thirties, notably in the fighter role.
Nevertheless, some of these 'Last Mohicans' played their part in WWII, and in no negligible measure, either. The Gloster Gladiator was certainly one of them.
Development of the Gladiator commenced as a private venture of Gloster Aviation, in an attempt to further improve on the existing Gauntlet. With numerous changes, including, at the time, an unusual enclosed cockpit, chief designer Harry P Folland managed to better the flight characteristics to such an extent that the RAF took notice. As a result, the RAF ordered production in 1936, the decision being heavily influenced by the fact that the development of modern monoplanes was still ongoing at a time when the political situation in Europe had started to deteriorate rapidly. Under such conditions, the RAF opted for an interim solution with a biplane, obsolete at the time, but with rather acceptable performance figures. Although limited in speed and firepower, Gladiator pilots were able to fight not only similarly outdated Italian or Russian planes, but also modern German planes like the Heinkel He 111 or Messerschmitt Bf 110. It was not unusual for Gladiator pilots to expend all their rounds of ammunition to gain a victory. Among the most interesting incidents, the victory of Gideon Carlsson, a Swedish volunteer, over a huge Russian TB-3 bomber during the Winter War in Finland deserves mention.
Shortly after the production of the Mk.I version began, the Mk.II was on the board, sporting a three blade Fairey Reed prop instead of the two blade Watts unit. The Mercury Mk.IX engine was replaced by the Mk.VIII version of the same rating, but the maximum speed increased a little due to the new propeller. Also, the instrument panel changed.
Gladiator pilots were especially satisfied with the aircraft's manoeuvrability and stability while firing, although the armament, consisting of four small calibre 7.7 mm machine guns, was insufficient. The first 60 series Mk.Is received two Vickers Mk.V guns mounted in the sides of the fuselage and two Lewis guns under the lower wings. After that, four Vickers Mk.Vs became standard, later being replaced by more powerful Browning's of the same caliber.
The Sea Gladiator came as a development of the Mk.II. The first batch of planes, being considered 'interim', featured
a strengthened fuselage and tail hook. A housing for a dinghy and pilot emergency supplies was added to the Sea Gladiator Mk.II.
Although Sea Gladiators were to be equipped with a three bladed propeller, about half of them later received the two blade Watts type which suited operations from carrier decks better, since the plane was able to achieved a shorter take off run and had a faster initial climb rate.
Production of all versions of the Gloster Gladiator totalled 746 units, in service with not less than 21 air forces during pre war and wartime periods.
Info from the Eduard instruction sheet
In the box Packed in a sturdy top opening box, the Roden based Gladiator has three plastic sprues, two of which are in a light grey plastic and one clear sprue.
A set of coloured photo etch, one small mask set, a glossy colour instruction booklet and a huge set of decals complete the contents of the box.
There is no flash present but there are a few sink marks to be found. There are some prominent marks inside the cockpit area which will need dealing with.
Roden originally released this kit as the Gloster Gladiator Mk.l version way back in 2002, and over the next couple of years released two more versions.
With this Eduard boxing you get all the parts for the Mk I, Mk II, Mk II Sea Gladiator as well as the ski equipped Finnish version.
External detail for the plastic parts is very good with some crisp recessed panel lines and very nice representation of the ribbing for the rear fuselage.
The wings have very subtle ribbing and are moulded as one piece. Separate ailerons, rudder and elevators can be positioned off center.
Two choices of undercarriage are given, wheeled or the Finnish version which has the skis. A choice of two or three-bladed propellers is also packaged and depends on which version you choose.
For the Sea Gladiator variant there is a tail hook supplied. A dinghy pack bulge is also supplied for the underside of the aircraft.
Internal detail comprises of some nice plastic parts along with a P.E instrument panel, seat harness's and a few more P.E parts for the side consoles and cockpit sidewalls.
The engine is made up of 26 plastic parts and three P.E parts, so it should look very detailed once painted and installed.
The cowling is made up of three parts, and was one of the criticisms of Roden's release of the kit.
The clear parts seem slightly thicker then normal, but they are blemish free. Two choices of front windscreen are given, but one is for the Sea Gladiator variant. The canopy isn't shown in the instructions are being fitted in the open position. A clear instrument panel is on the sprue which is used as the base for the P.E parts to attach too.
Two internal guns are fitted inside the fuselage halves with the barrel tips just seen. External weapons are two Lewis guns fitted under the lower wings.
A small mask set for the canopies and wheel hubs are supplied and are the standard Kabuki tape style Eduard supply. A guide for the positioning of the masks is given in the instructions.
Instructions and decalsThe colour instruction booklet is easy to follow, with any photo etch parts to be used highlighted. The masks supplied are for the wheel hubs and the canopy glazing, and have a full page positioning diagram midway through the build sequence. Internal colours are given through out for the Gunze color range of paints. A very handy rigging guide and the eight full page, full colour profiles are supplied along with a 2 page stencil guide.
The eight marking options are -
A - Gladiator Mk.II, L9044, No. 3 Squadron RAAF, Maruba, Libya 1941
B - Gloster Gladiator Mk.I (J8), 278, Flygflottilj 19, Finland, March 1940
C - Gladiator Mk.I, No. 123 Fighter Squadron, Spilve, Latvia 1938
D - Gladiator Mk. I K7985, No. 73 Squadron RAF, Church Fenton, England, September 1937
E - Gladiator Mk. I, K7974, No. 87 Squadron, Shoreham, England, 1938
F - Gladiator Mk.I, 1er Escadrille du 1er Groupe du 2éme Regiment Aéronautique, Schaffen,
G - Gladiator Mk.II, N2308, No. 615 Squadron RAF 'County of Surrey', Merville, France 1939
H - Sea Gladiator Mk.II, N5517, 813 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Eagle, July 1940.
The large decal sheet is printed by Cartograph, so the printing quality is excellent, with no mistakes, and colour registration is excellent. Having used Cartograph decals before I have had no trouble with them.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.