Osprey Aircraft of the Aces ˇ 44 - Gloster Gladiator Aces: Andrew Thomas, Osprey, UK, 2002, ISBN: 1-84176-289X
Mushroom Magazine Special; Yellow Series - Gloster Gladiator: Alex Crawford, Mushroom Model Publications, UK, 2002, ISBN: 83-916327-0-9
Reviewed by Jim Schubert
These books were released at about the same time and reinforce one another very nicely. The Osprey book, naturally, focuses on the men who became aces on the type. This focus, perforce, also includes a good outline of the main operations involving Gladiators but largely excludes those operations, which produced no aces.
The Mushroom book, on the other hand, focuses on the airplane and its use in all of the various theaters of WWII and then accounts for the, apparently, 12 survivors. I say "apparently" because Appendix 2 is very confusingly written. One survivor, perhaps the best known, is Gladiator Mk.I, L-8032 (for awhile misnumbered K-8032), civil registration G-AMRK, which has been regularly demonstrated aloft during the Shuttleworth Trust's Flying Days at Old Warden since 1967. It is the only Gladiator that is currently airworthy.
Here then is a tabular comparison of the contents of these two excellent paperback books for aviation enthusiasts:
The print and paper qualities of the two books are nearly identical. There are, however, quirks in Mushroom's color profiles: The serial numbers are a bit skinny compared with the photos, the roundel proportions in many instances are a bit fat, color saturation is generally weak and the hues are off the mark. The dark green Chinese Gladiators, for instance, are rendered as a dark gray. Osprey's color is, on the whole, better than Mushroom's.
If you're only going to buy one of the two as a modeling reference - get the Mushroom book; it is much better value for a modeler's money. Not being restricted to the Osprey's "Aces Formula", the Mushroom book is much wider ranging on all counts except "Aces". The Osprey book illustrates and comments upon Gladiator operations of: RAF, FAA, RAAF, SAAF, China, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Norway, Belgium and Iraq. The Mushroom book illustrates and/or comments upon Gladiator operations of those users plus Egypt, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Free France, Portugal USSR and Germany.
I've been a big Gladiator fan since I first visited Old Warden in September 1969 and did a "Photo Walkaround" of L-8032. For model builders the old (mid 1960's) Inpact (subsequently Pyro and Life Like) kit is the only one in 1:48 scale and it is excellent. My only quibbles with it are the light fabric "texture" and the too thick trailing edge of the engine cowling. In 1:72 scale the Heller kit is far superior to the old Airfix offering. There are rumors that some other manufacturer will soon release another 1:48 scale Gladiator. When/if that happens I have asked the Publisher of this magazine to allow me to review the kit. It'll have to go a long way to beat the Inpact/Pyro/Life Like kit.
These are both quite good books. On balance, the Mushroom book is the better value for a model builder. Other Gladiator references a modeler must have include Profile No. 98 (Red Series), Camouflage and Markings No. 5 - Gladiator, Gauntlet, Fury, Demon -RAF Northern Europe 1936-45 and the book - On Silver Wings by Alec Lumsden & Owen Thetford. Can any reader suggest any other "Must Have" Gladiator references? I would really like to hear form anyone who can recommend additional references.
The review copies were purchased at Emil Minerich's Skyway Model Shop in Seattle.