by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Gloster Gladiator was the last biplane fighter to enter service with the RAF, entering service in 1937 and was withdrawn from frontline service in 1941. By the time World War 2 got going, the RAF was equipped largely with the Hawker Hurricane, 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 the World War 2 the Gladiator served as part of many Commonwealth Air Forces with the Australian aircraft having a particularly noteworthy history. 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 fills me with a lot of expectations for this model and others that I am sure will follow, models such as the Gladiator Mk II and the Sea Gladiator, plus of course there are a number of paint finishes and finishing options that should make this series of models soughtafter kits for many years.
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 the plastic suffers from some flow lines which 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 is a sure sign of future releases. The decals have great colour but feel a little on the thick side which may result in issues during application. Identification of a Mk I from a Mk II 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
Vokes Air Filter used on both Mk I and II aircraft when serving in the desert; take note on which version you are building.
As with most models the construction begins with the cockpit and for the most part this area has been accurately detailed. The build of this area requires very little effort on the part of the modeller if built from the box, but there is plenty that can be added to improve the area. So letís start with what is missing, inaccurate or needs help.
The release arms for the cockpit doors need some help as the detail of the actuator is weak, but the structure present is very good. It is worth noting that the left hand door was the usual one to use as the one on the right was only really used in an emergency.
The frame detail in the cockpit is generally correct as regards structure, but the form could be greatly improved if you wish to go to work on it. Areas such as reinforcing shapes are missing from where they should be, but once closed up there is not much you can see.
The instrument panel in the Gladiator is in two pieces. The upper panel is a perfect match for a Mk 1 Gladiator in every detail, but the lower panel is haphazard in that most of what is there is generally accurate, but there is missing detail. Please note that the Mk II instrument is different and so do not confuse the two.
The feed shoots for the fuselage-mounted machine guns are missing, but the detail that is present is good enough for what can be seen, though there is plenty of room for improvement. The muzzles will need drilling out in all four machine guns located in the fuselage and under the wings, or like me you can add barrels from Master that are a big improvement. The barrels from Master are longer than those in the model and so I have to question the accuracy of those supplied by ICM.
Annoyingly ICM has again failed to supply any harness detail for the seat. I am going to overcome this by using the seated figure from the 1/32nd British pilot set released last month and a small amount of Tamiya tape to extend the missing harness detail down to the rear of the seat. The image of the figure in the seat has the figure supplied parachute under him in the seat recess. Other than some Mr. Surfacer 500 in the joints of the pilot, I am happy with what is offered. I will need to do some work to make the yoke meet the figures hand.
The triangular cut out in the seat is correct.
The Mk II reflector gun sight is very well-detailed as regards shape and form. But the modeller will need to add the clear portion of the sight.
So to generalise what is supplied is correct, but the modeller could throw a lot more at this area of the model in order to add some stunning visual appeal.
Moving onto the fuselage, there is a problem: the fuselage halves are bowed out along their length, but with a little care they can be brought back together. It is my belief that this bow is the result of the packaging rather than the model moulding, but as the interior elements are added the alignment of the fuselage is much easier to obtain.
The detail on the fuselage panel detail is exceptionally accurate along the sides and top of the fuselage; on the underside I did find a single error and a missing detail which I will point out in the images. 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. The fitting of the fuselage in the front of the cockpit is the area that bugs me as it will fight you and due to the plastic being thin, it will be easily distorted by pressure. Once you get it closed up 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 pre-drilled the wings ready for tensioning cables that will be added and I was very pleased to see the effort ICM has gone to in order to provide detail on that aspect. The flight control elements have been supplied as separate parts and so the modeller could opt to position them as wished. Another nice aspect is that the four wing supports furthest from the fuselage have well designed recesses for the support to sit in and creates 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 resulted in nicer joints. Every high needs a low and that low is the support arms from the fuselage to the upper wing; no matter what I tried the fit was never perfect and some filler is needed. Regardless of that I am really pleased with this area of the model. 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 is easily damaged; guess how I found that out. I was pleased to see that ICM supplied the tail wheel separate from the support leg.
The 830 hp Mercury Mk X is a wonderful piece of work by ICM considering that no photo etch elements are used in it building. Construction is a little testing as some aspects assembled prior to addition to the model are very fine and I found them difficult to get at the correct angles. Once the main area of the engine is assembled the modeller needs to decide if they want it fully exposed or covered as in flight; I have gone for an in-flight finish, but you are now presented with two options for the engine covers and it took me a little while to work out what the differences signify. Eventually I worked out that B1 & B3 are for the desert finishing options with the cut-out being for the filter used on those versions. If like me you are not going for a desert version, you will need to remember to sand away the locating lug. The exhausts caught me out as I was sure that I placed the correctly numbered one on each side, but when I added it to the aircraft it was obvious that they needed to be reversed.
This is as far as I am going with the build for this review and my observations generally are very positive. The model is for the most part a very accurate representation of a Gloster Gladiator Mk I in so much as the supplied detail is usually accurate with a minor concern about some engraved detail on the lower fuselage. At the same time that I say this is accurate there is plenty of scope for further detail to be added to a level the modeller chooses. I was very impressed that ICM got the instrument panel accurate for a Mk 1 Gladiator as it would have been easy to supply the same option with all variants and the Mk II seems easier to find reference on. While it is my belief that this model will meet the needs of many modellers straight from the box, the super detailers out there have a fantastic canvas with this release from ICM. there are some fit issues present, but these are nothing that anyone with a basic skill set could not overcome.