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Mike

Gloster Gladiator Mk.1 1:48

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Gloster Gladiator Mk.1
1:48 Merit Models


boxtop.jpg


The Glad was the winning contender for the competition that R J Mitchell's original "Spitfire" design was intended for, and after adding a better engine and enclosing the cockpit it went into service with the interwar RAF, as well as achieving some export success. By the time WWII broke out it was outclassed and starting to show its age, but was initially engaged in front-line service, most famously as the trio defending Malta. Even though it was old technology, it still performed comparatively well, even against more modern all-metal monoplanes, but its days as a fighter were numbered, except as a carrier fighter where it lingered a little longer.


The Kit
The 1:48 market has had only one kit for a number of years, so when we heard of this new release from Merit we were hopeful of a modern tooling with additional detail, which is in fact what we received. The kit arrives in a small box with three large sprues and two smaller in grey styrene, plus a clear sprue containing just the canopy part and a medium sized decal sheet. Instructions and separate painting guide complete the package, and from these you'll see a distinct familiarity with Trumpeter and Hobby Boss instructions if you haven't already recognised the link.

sprue1.jpg

sprue2.jpg

sprue3.jpg


The instructions are little more than two A4 sheets in landscape due to the simplicity of the moulding, which has no fancy features such as separate control surfaces or multi-part canopy, and marks this out as a more simplified product from their stable. Detail is good overall, with some nice moulding on the fuselage and engine cowling, but a few sink marks here and there due to over-thick moulds that might have been better split to avoid this. Construction begins with a ladder framework added to the interior of each fuselage half, and a simple cockpit floor onto which the seat, radio gear and control column are fixed. The instrument panel slips into a slot in the fuselage sides, as does the floor, and you've already closed up the fuselage in step 1! The shape of the fuselage looks to be pretty good overall, although there is a slight taper forward of the cockpit, and an incorrect angle of the canopy rail "sill" that stand out. The tail feathers are all separate, and as already mentioned have moulded in control surfaces, fitting in the familiar slot and tab style.

cowling.jpg


The engine is well-detailed, and builds up beginning with the piston banks with separate reduction gear housing, and at the rear the exhaust part traps a prop-shaft in place so that it can rotate freely. A pair of intake trumpets are added to the front of the engine, and it is then slid into the cowling. The cowling shape is unfortunately wrong, having the correct forward profile, but without the taper of the rear section that is so noticeable from the side. Underneath the exhaust pipes and another small intake are added, after which the keyed rear of the engine is mated to the front of the fuselage.

clear.jpg


The lower wing seems a little thick and blunt at the leading edge, but has good rib detail and shape from above, however on my review sample there was a degree of shine on the upper surfaces that may well be down to shrinkage in the mould during manufacture, leaving the valleys between the ribs looking a little uneven in depth. The single piece canopy offers no possibility of leaving the cockpit open unless you take your life in your hands and cut the part with a razor saw thereby exposing its thickness, at task that most people probably wouldn't attempt in fairness. Flipping the model over, the landing struts are installed in deep recesses, but they will need a good scrape to remove the prominent moulding seam, and the bands that pass around the skin where the real thing telescopes to absorb bumps might also need re-scribing to complete the rather faint lines already there. The single piece wheels fix to the lower ends of the struts, and have the shallow convex hub covers that were often used, but could do with a swipe of a sanding stick to flatten the bottom a little to reflect the weight of the airframe on the smooth tyres. The wing-mounted Lewis guns and their streamlined fairings fit into recesses in the lower wing, which would make it difficult to leave them off, but as most carried them, it shouldn't affect many people. The prop is a single part, and comes moulded with the spinner cap that was sometimes left off, and will require some scraping to remove the mould seam, plus maybe a little filler to remove the slight sink marks near the base of the two blades, due to the thickness of plastic there.

The upper wing is again a single part, although it appears thinner and less blunt to the leading edge than the lower, with the correct zero-dihedral central panel and dihedral outboard of the first bracing struts. The cabane struts and wing bracing struts are supplied with good-sized mating points, which should result in a good join between the wings, but there isn't a wiring diagram for those wishing to rig the aircraft as it should be in the real world. There are plenty of photos of the rigging out there though, so it shouldn't be very difficult to work it out for yourself.

Markings
There are three options in the box, and as is often the case with kits from this stable, there isn't any information supplied about the aircraft depicted. From the box you can build one of the following:

  • K6130 of 72 Squadron 1937 in overall silver dope with red fin and elevator planes, plus red/blue stripes over the upper wing and down the fuselage sides. This aircraft and pilot were lost when it flew into a hill in cloud in Egypt.
  • K7965 of 73 Squadron 1938 in overall silver dope with stylised blue/yellow diamond on upper wings and fuselage sides. Also lost after an overshoot on landing in Egypt 1942.
  • 2602 Chinese Nationalist Air Force 29th chungtui, 5th tatui 1938 in all-over green with blue/white striped rudder.

decals.jpg


A decal is included to improve the simple instrument panel, but otherwise decals are limited to national markings, codes and squadron motifs. They are well-printed in good register, but with a few jagged lines evident under magnification. For those averse to masking, the Chinese option has the blue/white stripes provided on the sheet.

Please note that the artefacts picked up on the camera are simply differences in the glossiness of the decals, due to the sheet's contact with the protective paper while shipping. The colours aren't actually blotchy to the naked eye.


Conclusion
The kit has some shape issues that might be tricky to correct without aftermarket, but if you aren't hugely focused on that, it should build up well with the caveats mentioned above. It appears more of a "budget" product than we have come to expect these days, and as such it suffers in comparison to the competition, having no poseable flying surfaces, opening canopy or crew door to show off the interior.

Review sample courtesy of
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.gif

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A good looking kit, but I have to agree with comments I have seen that the engine cowling is wrong. It has slab sides where the real one (and box art) is curved. Also a lot of the flush detail on the real thing seems to be fairly proud on the model one. It also seems to be missing the cut outs for the guns.

Julien

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Get Quickboost on the case, and that would be sorted for a couple of quid, although you might then struggle to get the engine in through the rear. :)

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Get Quickboost on the case, and that would be sorted for a couple of quid, although you might then struggle to get the engine in through the rear. :)

Or you could just buy the Eduard Profipack Glad. And save yourself the bother. :P

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A review match between this and the lattest Ed (Roden rebox) release would be interesting.

But I suspect (and understand) it's impossible regarding BM's relationship with the kit provider?

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Both kits are imperfect in different ways (as are almost all of 'em in some way, shape or form). We don't have an Eduard/Roden kit on hand, and we're not really about comparisons anyway. Judge the kits on their owns merits - it's not a difficult decision with there being just two options. :shrug:

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We don't have an Eduard/Roden kit on hand, and we're not really about comparisons anyway.

As a customer, a comparison would be highly useful.

But nevertheless, I understand your position.

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On a positive note, I do like the colour used for the Chinese roundels. Other manufacturers seem to have adopted a much paler blue that doesn't match colour photographs of CNAF aircraft. These look much better (on my monitor...usual caveats apply!).

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I have the Roden kit part built. Stalled on getting the wings straight. Might bin it and use the engine/cowl on this one.

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