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Torbjorn

Gladiator in Norway

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Hi all,

After just stumbling upon this group build and feeling the urge to participate, I realised the choice of model was already made for me. The delivery time of new kits measures in many weeks, and the only kit I have hidden at home that could be built to an RAF machine is an Airfix Gladiator. It fits well though, since I can build it to represent a plane from the unfortunate but valiant No. 263 squadron sent on almost sacrificial  missions here in Norway. The decision on  which particular airframe it will be will have to wait until I find suitable decals... 

 

In addition to the Swedish/Finnish plane on the front cover, the box comes with decals for a machine of No. 605 squadron, which refitted with Hurricanes before the fighting began, and the machine in question was transferred to met duties before crashing in a tree. It does have the same squadron code as No. 263 so there is a backup plan.

 

I just opened the red box, enjoying a moment of boyish enthusiasm probably driven as much by nostalgia as anything else. The kit contains parts for both a Mk I and II, which leaves all possibilities open for choice of stickers.  

 

 u0jcPhu.jpg

 

 

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Good one Torbjorn, I'll be interested to see which version you build.

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Following this one.

 

 

Chris

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Posted (edited)
On 4/2/2018 at 11:39 AM, Robert Stuart said:

Good one Torbjorn, I'll be interested to see which version you build.

So will I - it was apparently not the easiest task. These are some options I have found so far - none has a dedicated decal sheet that I could find, but it's possible to get the necessary decals anyway by butchering other sheet(s). For example, found one sheet for HE-B, but with code N5641, and another for HE-K but without any code. HE-K might have been painted in naval camo, but I've also seen very convincing argumentation that it was not.

 

N5628  HE-B  Black/white undersides, land scheme with shadow-shading?
N5641  HE-G   Black/white undersides, land scheme with shadow-shading?
N5579  HE-D   ? / land scheme with shadow-shading?
N5633  HE-K    silver or B/W undersides, land scheme with shadow-shading? 
N5905  HE-N    Black/white undersides, normal land scheme
N5908  HE-F   Black/white undersides, normal land scheme? 

 

As if this wasn't complicated enough, some of the black-white planes might have had a different colour under the upper wing.

 

On 4/2/2018 at 7:16 PM, dogsbody said:

Following this one.

 

 

Chris

Welcome - though it'll be a slow start I'm afraid.

Edited by Torbjorn

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I have the old Heller kit. It has decals for N5908  HE-F   Black/white undersides, normal land scheme?  Would you like to have them?

 

 

Chris

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On 4/5/2018 at 12:35 AM, dogsbody said:

I have the old Heller kit. It has decals for N5908  HE-F   Black/white undersides, normal land scheme?  Would you like to have them?

 

 

Chris

Many thanks, Chris, but I will order new ones. Heard the Heller decals might be yellowing and thick. I’ve already prepared an order for sheets with 24” and 30” code letters and A and A1 roundels (plus some other goodies :)), which should enable me to build any of the 263 Gladiators. If I have understood it correctly, on the first trip to Norway they wore type A roundels with smaller code letters (24, 26 or 28 inch I’m not sure, delaying until I figure that out) and on the second trip there were new regulations and they had type A1 roundels, with fin flashes and 30” letters.

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Posted (edited)

Put an order for decals and other goodies from UK, including cockpit PE :)

 

In the meantime, starting with the engine. The MkII Gladiator was powered by one of these (from wiki: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bristol_Mercury_RAFM.JPG):

500px-Bristol_Mercury_RAFM.JPG

 

A Bristol Mercury VIIIA (ok, ok the picture is a VII, but close enough!). The Airfix representation consists of 4 parts, plus 3 cowling pieces of which one contains the exhaust pipes and 2 air intakes. Rather complicated for Airfix, I suppose, but there is room for more complications. :D Here's the three most interesting pieces: the cowl ring, which is an integrated part of the engine as it doubles as exhaust collector, the cylinders and manifold. Several things are oversized, but it's difficult to do muchabout it. 

 

oCek7dlm.jpg

 

I've replaced the struts and added some missing support struts and some other bits and pieces. The top of the cylinders can't be represented well due to the thickness of the cowl.  Here's a dry fit (edit: hmm, still oversized supports). The second image shows how the exhaust pipes from the cylinders should connect to the collector ring - the joints are not pretty and difficult to fix inside there. I considered replacing the ducts but that'd be too annoying. I tried filing one down and adding a piece of plastic sheet at the end - after filing down it will do fine as a flange and conceal the joint a bit. 

 

Ij1IQvlm.jpg

 

ptjx0wRl.jpg

 

 

 

Does anyone know how these things were painted? Restorations shows them all black - a tad boring if I may say so. The collector ring colour can best be described as plain heat discolouration.

Edited by Torbjorn

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On 4/5/2018 at 12:35 AM, dogsbody said:

I have the old Heller kit. It has decals for N5908  HE-F   Black/white undersides, normal land scheme?  Would you like to have them?

Unfortunately, the Heller decals are nothing like the markings that were used by 263 Sqn in Norway. They are based on inaccurate drawings in an old Aircraft in Profile monograph.

 

Nils

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58 minutes ago, Torbjorn said:

Does anyone know how these things were painted? Restorations shows them all black - a tad boring if I may say so. The collector ring colour can best be described as plain heat discolouration.

The only information I have shows black with bare metal cylinders, pretty much as in the photo

500px-Bristol_Mercury_RAFM.JPG

It is a bit dull, but ...

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Seems like the cylinders, air intakes and support struts might have been bare metal. That’s enough variation for me :)

 

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Posted (edited)

Terribly good weather has prevented progress, but here is a small update. Finished building up the engine - ready for painting. One very prominent feature is the two air scoops sticking out at 5 and 7 o’clock positions. The kit supplied scoops were a bit crude and even somewhat underscaled. Made two replacements. The ”trumpets” are sliced at an angle and directed along the circumference towards incoming direction of the propeller - I’m guessing this is in order to improve air flow or reduce vibrations (they are very close to the prop). Anyhow here’s a dry fit, the left scoop is not rotated correctly and the bracket of the right one needs to be trimmed, but otherwise I’ll stop here.

MLBTg1S.jpg

 

 

 

 

From one end to the other: I also started looking at the tail. On the real thing there is an opening in the fuselage where you can see some of the innards: the actuation of the elevators. I opened up this area while searching for a detailed photo of it. So far I found this wiki image, which zoomed in give some indications:https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gloster_Gladiator_II_'N5903'_(G-GLAD)_(14076652635).jpg  . Pic of plastic: 

 

 

WeI7zx1l.jpg

Sorry for not cropping the images - haven’t figured out how to do it on the phone...

 

 

Edited by Torbjorn

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Nice work on the engine. This is going to be good!

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I'll just echo Z about your work on that engine, very good!

 

Thank-you also for the link to that photo, it may be useful for my own build.

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Thank you - here is a belated update. Almost finished with painting the engine. Will continue with the collector ring and cowling as well, and assemble the entire affair off the fuselage.

vpea8Vi.jpg

 

Still waiting for mail from England containing PE for the cockpit. In the meantime I’ve done some small changes on the exterior. The kit is very detailed, so there isn’t much to improve. :) I have so far replaced this tube on the right side(not sure what it is though...):

n3NiJ6l.jpg

 

The hole for the hand crank on the port side is too large, so I plugged it, drilled a new hole and added a piece of brass into which the crank should go. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Four weeks and no package from UK... I’m beginning to fear I will get neither decals nor PE. :(

 

Call the engine finished, bar dullcoat and touching up, which will be done after the rest of the plane has been painted as well. I also did some work on the behind, adding what can be seen of the elevator actuation mechanism. The elevators were loosened and pushed down a bit to make it easier to see into the little opening.

Otherwise I’m out of things to do, I really need to start on the cockpit now, but I’ll give the postal service one more week (hope never dies!)...

 

vQo7r69.jpg

 

 

 

vQtRFcn.jpg

Edited by Torbjorn

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6 hours ago, Torbjorn said:

 

 Four weeks and no package from UK... I’m beginning to fear I will get neither decals nor PE. :(

 

That sounds like a long wait, UK to Norway.

 Is post usually that slow? I ask because I've received stuff into UK bought from places like Poland within a few days, maybe a week.

 

I'd check with my supplier, to see if they are aware of an issue.

 

 

Nice work on engine and tail plane.

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It’s usually around 2 weeks, at least half of that spent in customs. Domestically it takes a day or two. This is the first time I had longer delays. I had aftemarket stuff arriving from small towns in Russia much quicker than this. Hopefully it’s just a delay but the local post office has been bungling deliveries recently, by failing to send out notices to tell recipients to come and pickup their packages with the result that said packages are returned to sender... 

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Posted (edited)

It is now obvious I won’t be receiving any aftemarket stuff. I had already cut away the door, so I decided to make homemade details instead. This is what the kit gives: nice but rather oversized chair and structure and an IP made of decals, which is fine. (I found a Yahu IP in my drawer and was delighted - until I realised it was a Mk I..)

 

TagBs9Gm.jpg

 

The internals, going under the knife:

GhmruxLm.jpg

 

The IP is integrated with the cabane struts, and is cleverly covered by a top piece designed by Airfix so that the edges correspond to real panels. I have already cut away the lower part of this piece, to be replaced with a false tank. 

 

3hc8HsX.jpg

 

The decals work ok, but they need to be trimmed because the coloured parts fit the plastic perfectly, meaning that the silvery see-through edges are too large. I added blobs of PVC on the dials and added some 3d pieces to make it look less flat (image below).

 

In the windscreen I added a reflector gunsight carved out of clear sprue and brace pieces from stretched sprue. The latter shows on the image below. I was a bit too eager and drilled through the frame. I am using the armoured screen by the way (Airfix give you two options) which I believe should be right. The anti-headbang protection was added after this pic by layers of PVC.

Cw4alezm.jpg

 

The comfy chair was made from my favourite raw material (beer can) using the kit chair as template, and various  other bobs and bits were added based on pictures. I know the telegraph key is often missing from MkII images but I have also seen it with it, so I added it anyway. Current state below: next comes drybrushing and washing and then it will all be put together:

 

 

yfjgMpV.jpg

Edited by Torbjorn

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Great dedication to detail

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Thanks - the trick is to know when to stop... :)

 

 

Added make-shift seatbelts from tape and beer-can, and glied it all together. Unfortunately one of those struts got warped somewhere in the process.Not sure how to fix it, but first I have to add the wing struts so I can position it correctly using the upper wing (dry fitted).

 

0LsMxy9.jpg

 

rzt7fuA.jpg

 

 

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That cockpit is a work of art, Torbjorn.

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Posted (edited)

Many thanks, such words are fuel for the fires. I doubt I will be able to finish on time, but until the deadline I will maintain full speed ahead.

 

Added the rudder, lower wings, tailplane, landing gear, struts, gunpods - and she's now ready for painting. On the rudder I replaced the little wing-like bracket where the steering wires attach with a beer-can version, and added one hinge (only two on the kit version). The kit footstep I replaced with flattened metal wire, it can be seen sticking out under the fuselage on the image below - the plastic was just too thick. I also cut off the gun barrels, will use brass tubes for these. Imitating others, I will leave off the upper wing until after painting the lower. The badly twisted aft right cabane strut has since been corrected by means of red-hot poker and index finger.

 

I think I will skip the thing that looks like a venturi tube - I have not seen it on any images of 263 squadron Gladiators.

 

Du6mnlw.jpg

 

I have finally decided which particular plane I will represent: N5725 HE-J, which took part in the first Norwegian tour of No 263 and was destroyed during the evacuation from the provisionary airfield on lake Lesjaskogsvatnet. 263 squadron did two trips, the first was over in a few days after relentless German attacks and lack of ground crew/equipment had resulted in the destruction of most planes on the ground. The second tour was longer and saw much action, only to end with the squadron going down with the Glorious on the return trip.

 

A picture and a colour profile are available in Crawford's book on the subject, showing it painted in shadow shading compensation dark earth/dark green. Undersurfaces are either aluminium or black/white. I will probably go for the latter (with maybe the tailplane left in aluminium - there seem to have been many variations on this theme...). First time I am airbrushing a camo scheme, so not entirely sure how to approach: current plan is black->white->light earth->light green->dark earth->dark green. For the code letters, I plan to cut and puzzle it together  from the kit codes (HE-Q, but with higher letters - if you know how the font looks, you can guess why I choose HE-J :)) Don't ask me about the fuselage roundel, haven't solved that problem yet, since the kit has the same size but no white in it (same as on the upper wings, just smaller).

Edited by Torbjorn

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Today I added some protruding parts. The antenna on top of the wing, and two things sticking up in front of the cockpit. Pic here: http://www.britmodeller.com/walkarounds/aircraft/gladiator/Gladiator-0020.JPG The smaller cylinder looking like some kind of gauge I have no clue what it is, but the other is part of the aileron actuation. Without it could be difficult to maneuver so that needed adding! On the to-do list is replacement of these two parts (air intake and door), then I'm done building things.

 

The door is worse than the one that is part of the fuselage, this will get beer-can treatment:

cLzSYNsm.jpg

 

This..

FAB6mrXm.jpg

 

...should be turned in to this: http://www.britmodeller.com/walkarounds/aircraft/gladiator/Gladiator-0008.JPG

 

 

 

I'm also done painting 4 out of 6 colours - only dark earth and ditto green remaining. This scheme is crazy, no wonder they gave up on it. The masking leftover makes the Gladiator look a bit lost waiting for dark earth. I used plastic foil for quick masking - what can possibly go wrong?

 

 

 

 

 

quS3cM2.jpg

 

 

For future reference (and since I will have forgotten those ratios by tomorrow), these are my chosen colours (Vallejo):

White - 71.001, painted on black to give an off-white appearance

Black 71.057

Dark earth 70.921 English uniform

Darg green 71.016 US Green

Light earth: 70.921 + 71.031 (Middle stone), about 1 to 3 ratio

Light green: 71.050 (light gray) + 71.016, 1-5. One layer, I wasn't happy and oversprayed (all layers very thin in any case) with 71.126 (IDF igreen, which I also use as interior colour) + 71.016, about 1-3 ratio. 

 

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