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Mediterranean biplanes-Swordfish and Gladiator


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Hi all!

Time for my next WIP thread. This project was born out of the fact that I find biplanes stressful. Indeed, Ms. Vulcanicity teases that she can tell when I'm building a biplane because the noise levels in our flat go up considerably!

Because of this, biplanes build up in my stash. I currently have a Bristol F2B, RAF SE5A, Stranraer, Siskin, Gladiator, Swordfish, Demon and Tiger Moth sitting there waiting to be built...

I have therefore decided on a bold course of action which will help clear the backlog: building two at once!

DSCF9360_zps9f900da0.jpg

However, fear not for the state of Ms. Vulcanicity's hearing! The theory is that by synchronising all the stressful stages like assembly of the upper wing and rigging, the stress caused will be more than building just one or the other, but not as much as the total of building both separately...

The synchrony is further helped by the fact that I'm planning to build these two in a similar scheme. I like the OOB scheme for the Swordfish, so it's going to be a Taranto machine. I have also always wanted to give into that ultimate wartime RAF cliché, the Malta Gladiator. So the Glad is getting the "Faith" treatment as N5520 (I just couldn't do N5519/R - it's just so clichéd!).

Anyway, here goes! These are such nice kits that relatively few scratchbuilt additions should be necessary, which will be pleasant after my Lightning build :)

The 'fish is much more of a complex interior, so I'm kicking off with it in order to get a bit of a headstart.

The pit builds up into some nice sub assemblies before priming.

DSCF9364_zps31b1bb89.jpg

One of the first things I noticed about the 'fish is that the pilot's seat is tiny. Even a relatively lissom 1:72nd pilot couldn't squeeze his posterior into it. Just the effort of trying to do so has probably given the poor chap a complex.

DSCF9369_zps9338e21c.jpg

Here's the Gladiator seat for comparison. Helpfully, I've got a resin Gladiator seat in the stash courtesy of a Pavla set I bought for the Heller kit (for some reason I scratchbuilt my own seat for that build!). So I've decided to swap the Gladiator kit seat for the Swordfish one. The shape may not be spot on, but at least the aircraft's theoretical pilot can come off his diet of lettuce and cholesterol-reducing yoghurt drinks.

That's about as far as I've got! Hope you enjoy following the build :)

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Best of luck! I've just packed my Gladiator away for the night, after three hours' work in which I managed six lines of rigging (the previous Gladiator got smashed after frustration with my atrocious efforts at rigging the thing, and the temptation reared its head again tonight). And yet ... there's an Eduard Albatros that's next up from the stash, so there must be something about those biplanes that keeps me coming back.

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I find rigging easy, but a forever job. I use thin strands of wire that I straighten with a ruler and trim tiny bits off until it fits, when it is the right length I glue it with PVA glue, wait a while while it dries a bit and move on to the next one. The waiting awhile helps with the brain pain. I rigged an Airfix Handley Page 0/400 this way but on a sad note the wind blew it of the bonnet of my car (I was moving house), you can imagine the destruction.

I am also building a Gladiator, but I would like to do an Aussie Gladiator. I can't find any decals though.

Stephen

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This will be an interesting thread to follow! That pilot looks more 1/48 scale rather than 1/72.

Martin

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I understand your complex about the top wing and riiging. Do you have a bi-plane jig? If you don't then get one they really make life a lot easier. I have an Aeroclub one but SRAM also make one . One thing I have learnt when rigging bi-planes is only to do a few wires in a sitting, expecting to rig the whole plane at once leads to much frustration.

Patience young Padawan I keep telling myself when rigging.

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For rigging, try EZ line. it is an elastic thread used by the modeling railroad community. use CA glue to attach one end, and when set, do the other end. I think there are helpful instructions on the Wingnut Wings website, which also sells it.

I built the new Airfix Swordfish and I found it went together very well. The tolerances are tight so extra care needs to be taken.

Good luck.

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Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragment!

I realised somewhat belatedly that my last post was supposed to include a comparative shot of the two seats, so here it is:

DSCF9366_zps0c80b92f.jpg

The Gladiator seat looks a lot better in situ, suitably modified with plasticard to resemble the padding on the Swordfish seat. Our putative pilot will be much comfier now.

DSCF9370_zps094388b0.jpg

I seem to remember that I said these kits would be more or less OOB. It seems I just can't help scratchbuilding. The rudder pedal linkages under the floor were, in particular, just gratuitous.

I understand that the Taranto Swordfish had this decidedly un-aerodynamic looking tank bolted on in place of the observer-but nowhere can I find a definitive colour reference. I'm currently leaning towards black-any other ideas?

DSCF9372_zpsbf9f21e7.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, it's been a while, as I've had a week away and have been rather busy since I came back.

Anyhow, the Swordfish is now ready for primer, so I've been making a start on the Gladiator.

Airfix's cockpit is pretty good-not perhaps quite as accomplished as the Swordfish, but a great improvement on the old Heller kit. I didn't add much to the cockpit floor piece, just a few levers and knobs on the diagonal struts either side of the seat:

13934708449_bed30a9fba_b.jpgDSCF9746 by Vulcanicity558, on Flickr

The sidewalls need a map pocket and throttle/mixture control, but not too much else. I've decided to display the door and canopy open, so I cut out the door part of the fuselage, and drilled out the mounting holes for the door insert.

14118063451_93ca40fe53_b.jpgDSCF9745 by Vulcanicity558, on Flickr

I've also replaced the kit machine gun barrels with a thicker version of the blast tube behind the gunport in the side of the fuselage. This is a section of solid plastic drilled out in preparation for Quickboost gun barrels, which should be easy to fit after painting.

The scary bit for the Gladiator was navalising it. Although N5520 had unecessary equipment removed upon being pressed into service at Hal Far, and this almost certainly did include the arrestor hook, it's unlikely that the hard-pressed ground crews doped over the recessed slot for the hook, so I need to represent it.

The Pavla upgrade set, which I bought for my last Heller Gladiator, provides the Arrestor Hook in resin:

14098203846_840ea9bb99_b.jpgDSCF9743 by Vulcanicity558, on Flickr

So I taped it on to the fuselage underside as a marking guide, and used a permanent marker to mark out and draw in the slot:

14098193836_ae7c288557_b.jpgDSCF9747 by Vulcanicity558

13934729778_2668320a06_b.jpgDSCF9748 by Vulcanicity558

Then, with a razor saw and a shot of courage, I managed to cut a surprisingly symmetrical slot!

13934697909_328622c712_b.jpgDSCF9749 by Vulcanicity558

It needs a bit more trimming on the starboard side, and lining with plasticard from inside, then we're nearly ready to crack out the primer!

Edited by Vulcanicity
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I find rigging easy, but a forever job. I use thin strands of wire that I straighten with a ruler and trim tiny bits off until it fits, when it is the right length I glue it with PVA glue, wait a while while it dries a bit and move on to the next one. The waiting awhile helps with the brain pain. I rigged an Airfix Handley Page 0/400 this way but on a sad note the wind blew it of the bonnet of my car (I was moving house), you can imagine the destruction.

I am also building a Gladiator, but I would like to do an Aussie Gladiator. I can't find any decals though.

Stephen

didn't know there was an Aussie Gladiator. Cool! What sort of wire do you use for the rigging?. Does it look right in scale. Do you leave it metal finish or dirty it up a bit?

On the decals ....try printing your own if you can. I haven't tried it yet but will be soon.

Edited by Winenut
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been a while since updates, but despite being away last week I haven't been entirely idle (yes, I took my modelling gear on holiday!).

Most of my work has been painting, and by yesterday I had all the interior painting done on both kits:

14193027896_4d24cbc258_b.jpgDSCF9753 by Vulcanicity558

After some deliberation over Swordfish interior colours, I went for the kit suggestion.

With all the parts painted, it was time to begin the complex Swordfish interior assembly. This is one of the most complex interiors I've seen on a 1:72nd single-engined aircraft, and I don't think Airfix have bettered it before or since. Here is the floor, pilot's floor and side frames assembled, and the decking dry-fitted to the top.

14236350793_1966a25555_b.jpgDSCF9754 by Vulcanicity558

14212878201_b9221b4c2c_b.jpgDSCF9755 by Vulcanicity558

14212878201_b9221b4c2c_b.jpgDSCF9755 by Vulcanicity558

The whole assembly fits together almost perfectly, certainly amazingly well for its complexity. The only part which gave me any grief was the gunner's seat, which needs a bit of fettling to fit in its space.

Here is the completed assembly :)

14029493059_298e18f6a5_b.jpgDSCF9759 by Vulcanicity558

14029487129_721f7d5449_b.jpgDSCF9760 by Vulcanicity558

14029481289_f2ac1e9328_b.jpgDSCF9761 by Vulcanicity558

I haven't been neglecting the Gladiator, as you'll see from the first shot.

Here's the resin seat, which as I mentioned way back was from a Pavla set I bought for the Heller kit - having bought the set halfway through the build with the interior done I had no need of the seat, until now. The moulded belts had a few pits and bubbles so I covered them with pre-cut paper CAd into place.

14029678708_ef53497038_b.jpgDSCF9750 by Vulcanicity558

The long tails to my paper belts also nicely occupied the seat belt guide behind the pilot's bulkhead.

Here's the finished assembly:

14213033541_2c6b10be50_b.jpgDSCF9758 by Vulcanicity558

And the results of the last couple of days together :)

14216142305_86e97dd56a_b.jpgDSCF9762 by Vulcanicity558

Now it's off to button up the fuselages!

See you next time :D

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Great work Phil. That looks really good - super detailing

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just found this What a great project great work so far

Looking forward to more of the same

Roger

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Nice progress, love the detail you've put in to the inside.

Weren't those fuel tanks normally a brick red due to the material they were made from?

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Woody: do you mean the aux fuel tank for the observer's cockpit? I'd not heard any opinions either way so your suggestion of brick red is an interesting one...

Anyway, this hasn't been a very good WIP. Too much modelling and not enough photography thereof! So I apologies, but here are a few more pics to bring us up to date.

Both Gladiator and Swordfish fairly fly together once the fuselage is buttoned up. The Swordfish tailplane is a bit of an awkward fit to the fuselage, but the control surfaces go on beautifully. It's nice that Airfix give you instructions showing the maximum deflection on the real thing's elevators and rudder :thumbsup:

14167869308_4dbd2e230d_b.jpgDSCF0029 by Vulcanicity558

I have recently been building the wings of the Swordfish, which due to the folding option are quite complex assemblies (I'm going for unfolded wings). I c0cked this bit up by attaching the underside halves of the outer top wings to the centre section before attaching the inner pairs of interplane struts. (got that alright?!) I had to do quite a bit of surgery to the struts to get them to fit retrospectively, but I think they're OK.

The outer pairs of struts are joined at the top by a spacer bar which fits into a slot in the wings like an old 1960s biplane kit. This is great for getting the wings to sit right, but doesn't blend in to the wing underside properly. I therefore used filler to smooth over the slots:

14353638694_18648a3c3c_b.jpgDSCF0028 by Vulcanicity558

Meanwhile, I've also added the bottom wing to the Gladiator, which with most of its details attached is nearly ready for primer. This is where we're up to:

14167836519_5e8e6aff82_b.jpgDSCF0027 by Vulcanicity558, on Flickr

The eagle-eyed will note that I've broken a cabane strut. It's a bit of a Gladiator-building tradition of mine that at least one gets snapped with every build. I'm being very careful not to break any more, as I suspect the wing fitting will be very tough with all of them snapped!

I'm currently drilling endless rigging holes. The Gladiator is done with something like 42 separate holes drilled, I've done 20 on the Swordfish with many more to go. Three of my starting four 0.3mm drill bits are snapped, with mercifully more on their way from Hannants!

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This is really progressing well and I am enjoying this project to the full

Roger

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Looking very nice. I have a paused Gladiator build. Am I correct in observing that you've cut the barrels off the machine guns to make it easier to mask and paint?

PS I managed to break two cabane struts :banghead:

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One point about the seats. I've no idea whether the kit part is the right size or not, but the pilot doesn't sit in the seat. He sits on his parachute pack which rests on the seat. How this relates to the "sit" of the standard Airfix pilot, and the size of his posterior, might be another matter altogether.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone!

Graham: That's interesting about the seat, I hadn't quite realised that. Still, I feel that the kit seat is much too small even anyway, for one thing the backrest hardly comes halfway up the pilot's back! The Gladiator seat seems to be a more sensibly sized replacement.

Tomoskenko: Yes, I've cut off the barrels as I'm going to be fitting Quickboost replacements. The gunpods under the wings are drilled out to accept these, and much earlier on I put in some shaped and drilled-out stops in the fuselage for the nose guns. You're right, they're much easier to paint separately and install after construction!

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Good plan. I will try something similar myself, although I may try scratch building the barrels. I don't think the kit ones are very good.

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Primer finally went on yesterday!

14203471427_711ccf5b04_b.jpgDSCF0045 by Vulcanicity558

Before the primer coat I had spent a fun evening rigging the Swordfish's tail assembly, including all the control linkages. This may represent a novel definition of the word "fun".

14203351420_a1058383ed_b.jpgDSCF0046 by Vulcanicity558

This is the first biplane project I've tackled using 0.3mm drill bits for the rigging holes instead of 0.5. I suspect that after painting and assembly it's going to be very hard to find the holes I drilled in the wings, but at least they don't need filling after the wires are threaded through!

14388887284_18d248f986_b.jpgDSCF0047 by Vulcanicity558

I had a few dregs of white primer left in the rattle can, so I primed the Gladiator's underside half-white in anticipation of its Day Fighter scheme. Shame I forgot to mask the tip of the tailplane before finishing off with Grey!

14203345890_eb7d5b85b0_b.jpgDSCF0048 by Vulcanicity558, on Flickr

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