Pavla 1/72 Gloster Gladiator/Sea Gladiator

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

The Gloster Gladiator was the last biplane fighter of the RAF, designed in the mid-1930s when monoplanes were becoming the norm. The plane managed to make it into the opening stages of the Second World War, and famously formed part of the defense of the island of Malta in 1940. The Gladiator proved popular with other nations as well, with Belgium, China, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and Sweden all flying the type.

The Kit

While we have seen nice kits of the Gladiator in 1/48 from Roden, in 1/72 the pickings are a bit more slim. There is the decent Heller kit, as well as examples from Airfix and Matchbox. All of these are a bit long in tooth, though, and the time is ripe for a new-tool Gladiator. Pavla has answered that call with this release, which is quite good overall. However, it may not be entirely time to dump all those Heller kits, but more on that later.

Starting with opening the box, you are greeted by a single tree of gray injection plastic parts and a small bag of resin details. The cockpit is where much of these resin pieces end up, and this will result in a very nice looking cockpt. There are separate sidewalls, cockpit floor, and instrument panel all provided in resin, along with a nice seat. While the cockpit opening is not large, the level of detail will still be visible. Moving forward, the engine and cowling is also in resin, eliminating the need to assemble (and potentially damage detail) a cowling from multiple pieces.

While still on the subject of the front end, this is where the biggest problem shows up, namely with the propellers. The kit comes with two styles, a three-bladed and a two-bladed. The two-bladed one is passable, but could use a bit of extra detailing. The three-bladed one is way off, though. It is little more than a flat plate with blade shapes cut out. There is little to no twist in them, and it would take quite a bit of work to get this looking like a proper propeller. It might be best to rob your stash of Heller kits for propellers for this kit.

Moving to the rest of the kit, it is quite good and nicely detailed. The fuselage halves come with a cutout in the underside for the hook found on the Sea Gladiator, and there are two styles of fins provided to cover the different variants. The wings are molded as one piece, so there is no worries about dihedral and such. The lower wing includes part of the fuselage as well, so affixing it will be simple. The instructions provide a rigging diagram as well, so there will be no guesswork there.

The decal sheet, while small, is very extensive, with no less than five aircraft presented. The first is an overall silver Mk.I from No. 87 Squadron. This plane features a black bar with a green wavy line on the fuselage sides, and a blue tail. Next up is a camouflaged Mk. I from No. 80 Squadron, finished in dark earth and green over a split white/black belly. This plane is coded YK-D and was based in Egypt. Third up is another camouflaged example, finished similarly to the previous option. This is a Mk. II of No. 247 Squadron out of Roborough and is credited with an He 111 kill.

The final two options are for Sea Gladiators, the first coded R from the Hal Far Fighter Flight in Malta, 1940. It is camouflaged with a white/black belly and extra dark sea gray and dark slate gray on the uppers. The second Sea Gladiator is camouflages similarly, except without the split color belly. It is coded 6-C in red and is from No. 813 Squadronoff of the HMS Eagle in the summer of 1940. The decals are nicely printed and should have no problem in application.

Conclusion

Aside from the propeller issue, this is an excellent release by Pavla and one which fills an important niche. There are quite a few nice aftermarket decals out there for the Gladiator, so if biplanes are your thing, this might be one worth picking up a handful. My thanks to Pavla for the review sample.

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