HOME  -  ABOUT US MODEL GALLERY  ARTICLES MEETINGS  -  NEWSLETTERS  -  CONTEST

 

 

1/48 Lindberg Gloster Gladiator
by Lee Rouse

 

This kit has been in my possession for about 7 years. The molds have been around even longer. Based on a recent exchange of gunfire on the Hyperscale forums page, it appears that the kit was first marketed in the late '60s under the name Impact. Following this, and over the next 20 years, it was reissued under no less than 3 different brand names, including Pyro, Lifelike, and in 1993, Lindberg.

Although this kit does show its age with rather large ejector pin marks and a scantily dressed cockpit, it is still a surprisingly respectable and accurately proportioned offering. The fabric effect for the wings and fuselage is just right, IMHO.

As I've said, this kit has been on my shelf for more than a few years. I purchased it shortly after finishing another Lindberg offering, the Bristol Bulldog. Like the Gladiator, the Bulldog was a basic kit that built into a nice model. I decided that I would dress the Gladiator up as much as possible, and started looking for aftermarket offerings. It took some scrounging, but I was eventually able to obtain an Airwaves photoetch set (aw48087), which I believe is still available. I would recommend this set for anyone building the Lindberg Gladiator, as it definitely improves the Spartan look of the cockpit.

Construction started in 1998 with the photoetch pieces for the cockpit which includes seat, floor, sidewall, rear decking, instrument panel, rudder pedals, compass facing, control stick. Trim wheel and throttle levers. At the time, I had relatively little experience with photoetch, and trying to fold, position, and glue all these pieces eventually did me in. So after a couple of days, the kit went back on the shelf where it remained for another couple of years. In the meantime, I was able to purchase a new Bristol Mercury resin engine, offered by Engines and Things, and a 3-blade prop from Aeroclub.

Flash forward to November 2002. I am tired of looking at this kit. "Must work on itů must work on it". This time I persevered. With the aid of several references (see end of article), I completed assembly of the cockpit (not without a fair amount of test fitting and mild profanity). Parts were glued together using Tombo Mono glue, and airbrushed using PollyScale British Interior Green. TomboMono glue is available at craft stores and can also be purchased online (just do a word search in Google). This glue is advertised as a permanent, water based glue. Using the small tip applicator, I squeezed a small amount of glue onto a scrap of paper, and then used a toothpick to transfer a small amount onto the back of each photoetch piece. This glue looks and behaves like regular white glue, but dries faster. If the pieces are joined immediately, the bond will be permanent. I like using Tombo Mono better than gel superglue, because the bond, while permanent, is not as rigid as superglue. So if you have glued parts together and then accidentally drop them onto the worktable, the bond is much less likely to shatter.

Fuselage halves were glued together using Tamiya Liquid glue, applied with the applicator brush. Once the glue was set, I filed along the seamline using a small bastard file to smooth out any irregularities in the surface. I then mixed Testors Liquid Cement with Some Tamiya putty, until the putty was not quite a liquid, and brushed this along the seam lines. Once this was dry, I laid down a line of super thin superglue, also along the seam lines. This was give about 10 minutes to dry, and sanded with progressively finer grades of sanding film. This method does take longer, but it had the effect of absolutely eliminating any trace of the seam line, so much so that I could have applied a natural metal finish with no resulting evidence of the old seam. I'm not sure why it works, but my theory is that the thinned down putty settles better into tiny crevices than the undiluted putty. The superglue seals the pores in the putty, resulting in a glass smooth surface when sanded and polished.

The wings were attended to next. The top wing consists of three pieces (center, left and right outside panels). Lots of putty, filing and sanding are needed to turn out a product which looks like one continuous surface! Next the bottom wing and wheel struts were glued onto the fuselage. Again, substantial puttying, sanding and filing are needed to produce smooth joins. Obliterated panel lines were rescribed. Wing struts were glued to the bottom wing using Tamiya glue. Once the struts were set enough to stand on their own, the top wing was test fitted to ensure the correct alignment of the struts. Surprising, very little adjustment was needed.

Paint was mixed next. I had already decided to model my Gladiator as an Mk2 in Egyptian markings, so I needed Light and Dark Earth colors. I decided that Tamiya XF-59 (Desert Yellow) was close enough to Light Earth for my tastes. The Dark Earth required a little creativity. XF-49 (Khaki) served as the base, with other colors (my apologies, one day I will scientifically mix and record my combinations) added until the "right" color appeared. To start the painting process, I airbrushed the bottom of the top wing black along the wing ribbing lines. I then airbrushed white (XF-2) over the bottom side of the wing, adding paint until I got the desired mix of light and darker areas. The upper side of the top wing was painted next with XF-59. Camo lines for my Dark Earth concoction were then airbrushed freehand using my Iwata HPb. Finally, I went back over the highlights by mixing slightly darker shades of the base colors and airbrushing these along the ribbing lines.

The underside of the aircraft and lower wings were airbrushed white using the same technique as with the underside of the top wing. After masking this off the white areas, XF-59 was airbrushed over the topside of the bottom wing as well as the fuselage. Dark Earth was freehand airbrushed next to conform to the camouflage scheme. Wing and fuselage parts were then hand brushed with several coats of Future. After this had dried for 24 hours, artist's oils (primarily raw umber) were thinned with lighter fluid, painted along panel lines and then wiped away (lighter fluid contains naphtha, which evaporates very fast, resulting in less time for the thinner to "eat through" the Future clear coat.

The top wing was then joined to the rest of the model. The engine, and then the engine cowling were painted, joined together, and attached to the fuselage. Exhaust stacks were airbrushed Modeler Master Acrylic jet exhaust which had been mixed with black to dark it. Under wing gun fairings were painted and attached to the bottom wing. Main and tail wheels were painted and attached.

Decals were next. I used the Gladiator Mk 1/II sheet available from Mike Grant Decals. This is a beautiful sheet that includes markings for "foreign" Gladiators including Egyptian, captured Luftwaffe, Latvian, Greek and Lithuanian. After some deliberation, I decided on the Egyptian scheme. Decals went on with out a problem, and snuggled down nicely with an application of SuperSol.

Now time for the rigging. The kit comes with preformed locator holes for rigging in the wings. Based on what information I could obtain, it appears than these holes are all in more or less the correct location. To rig the aircraft, I used .009 steel piano wire, purchased from Small Parts, Inc. Although rigging wires in 1930's aircraft were more flat than round (thus reducing wind resistance), I decided to go with the .009 wire because, frankly, I thought it looked good, and I had some on hand. This was probably the most laborious part of the whole construction process. Using a pair of dividers, I measured the length for each wire. I purposely overestimated length, so as not to cut too short. Each wire was test fitted, clipped a little, test fitted, clipped a little more, until it was the right length. Once the correct length was obtained, a small dab of white glue was placed in each locator whole to help secure each piece of wire.

I haven't mentioned the canopy and windscreen, but I decided early on that new canopy pieces would be nice, given the thickness of the kit parts. The windscreen kit part looked fine. Using the Heat 'n Smash method, I created a new windscreen and rear decking canopy. These were "painted" using strips of clear decal film which had been airbrushed XF-59 or Dark Earth. Parts were then attached to the fuselage using white glue. Wing tip navigation lights were replicated with a dab of clear 5 minute epoxy, painted Tamiya clear red or clear green after the epoxy was dry.

The final fiddly bit was the radio antenna wire. I usually use nylon sewing thread rather than stretched sprue, the latter being too delicate and easily broken. I drill out a small hole in the aircraft rudder, insert the end of the thread, apply a drop of superglue, and then pull the thread taut and attach it to the antenna mast. This time, however, I did something different. The technique I used is described in an article by Lauren Blakley on the Armorma.com website. Click here to read this article. Rather than stripping telephone wire insulation as suggested in the article, I tried something different to create the insulators. This consisted of inserting a piece of stiff wire inside a piece of .08 styrene tubing and then stretching the tubing over a flame. I then used a sharp #11 blade, rolling it over a small section of the tubing, until a small length of the tubing separated. This easily slid off the wire, which also kept the tubing from being crushed by the pressure of the knife blade. The insulator tubing was then placed on a piece of Poster Tack stuck to the end of a toothpick, for easier handling (I hate trying to handle small fiddly bits with tweezers. They inevitably spring off and are lost forever).

One loop was attached to the tail post, pulled snug and glued. The same procedure was followed for the antenna mast. This method is really easy once you get the hang of it and makes it simple to get a taut wire without having to resort to heating the thread.

Well, seven years later, the project is done. I'm pleased with the way it turned out, especially considering the age of the kit. I'll have admit, though, the next Gladiator I build will probably be the new Roden kit, not the venerable Impact/Pyro/Lifelike/Lindberg offering!

References

1. Peczowski, Belcarz, Monografie Lotnicze #24: Gloster Gladiator
2. Argus Press, Aircraft Archive Volume 1
3.
J8 Gloster Gladiator in the Swedish Air Force (website)
4.
The Battle of Britain History Site (website - image)
5.
Armorama.com (website - Quick Tip)
6.
Small Parts Inc.