**** DONE: GB-45 1/48 Gloster Gladiator - BoB/Foreign Service

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Nov 16, 2008
Username: Crimea River
First name: Andy
Category: Judge – Non competing
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Roden
Model Type: Gloster Gladiator Mk. II
Aftermarket Add-ons: None. Scratchbuilding parts and decals

The subject of this build will be Gloster Gladiator #433, a uniquely painted aircraft that was one of 12 Gladiators that served with the Norwegian Army Air Service up to the time that Germany invaded Norway on April 9, 1940. All Norwegian Gladiators were painted in a silver colour, presumably aluminum dope. I've been told that #433 was selected to receive what might have been an experimental camouflage scheme in 1939, the cost of NOK 200 at the time being considered too high to apply to more than one aircraft. Data on the scheme is minimal and it appears that there are only two known B&W pictures of the plane. One can be found on line on Pinterest and is unattributed. It's attached to a doctored profile which I will not reproduce here (it's wrong anyway) but I've cropped the photo and include it here:

433 Cropped.jpg

Interpretations vary but there is apparently a written description in the book "Fornebu 9 April" by Cato Guhnfeldt. He's quoted as saying: "On the experimental aircraft, Gladiator 433, areas of the wings and fuselage (the dark areas) are partially covered with brown-green (khaki) and grey, wavy lines that blend into one another. The remainder of the fuselage sides and bottom (the light areas) are painted in a mix of matte silver and light blue, intended to make the aircraft as inconspicuous as possible when seen against the sky. Areas of the top of the wings (the light areas) are instead painted grey or grey-green." The particular colours used are not known but there is speculation that Italian paints were used.

A nice account of the use of Gladiators during the invasion can be found here: Håkans Flygsida - The Gloster Gladiator in the Norwegian Army Air Service (Haerens Flygevåpen). 433 was flown at the time by Finn Thorsager who, after spraying bullets at various attacking German aircraft on 9 April, 1940, landed the aircraft on a frozen lake 12 miles east of Oslo where it was left abandoned. He was picked up by car and driven back to base on the same day where he rejoined his squadron. After the German occupation, Thorsager escaped from Norway and made his way to "Little Norway", a training field for expat Norwegian pilots in Toronto, where I was born. Thorsager's route from Norway was via Sweden, Moscow, Vladivostock, Yokohama, and California! He went on to become CO of 332 Squadron RAF and then went to Ferry Command in the closing months of the war. He survived the war and died in 2000.

Photos that accompany the article in the above link do not include 433 but do show other Gladiators based at the Fornebu base with no skis. I don't know when the photo above was taken but I'm going to assume that it was taken in early in 1940. The skis displayed in that photo are a bit problematic for me in that they are very different than what is supplied in the kit, which represents the skis used by the Finns and Swedes. To replicate the Norwegian skis, I would need to scratch build the fairings and make the stencil decals that appear in the photos. I'm led to believe that the stencils are the Norwegian equivalent of "No Step" and that they say specifically:


If I can swing it, I'd like to replicate the skis, though it would appear that wheels (the easy way out) would not be out of line for the invasion period.

I am still gathering info on the specifics of the camouflage but am inclined to believe that the underlying silver dope was first oversprayed with a light blue or grey in a wave pattern. A khaki green was then sprayed over that, also in a wave pattern, to form the disruptive dark areas. The wing uppers appear to have been completely painted a solid medium grey and then the khaki applied similar to the fuselage.

There's plenty of opportunity for more discussion on this and I hope to get going on this build shortly.


Nov 16, 2008
Let's take a look at the kit. Roden's Mk II kit was released in 2003 and added decals and parts to allow the builder to make a Mk II Gladiator from the original Mk I boxing. Since my subject looks to be a Mk I, given the two-bladed prop, I'll likely be able to ignore the added bits.


All of the main parts come on just two sprues, with a third small, clear sprue for the canopy parts. The wings are solid with no upper and lower halves. I had always thought that it might be worth a try to rig a bi-plane model with the wing halves left off to allow easy access to the lines - i.e. make the model with the lower half of the upper wing glued to the upper half of the lower wing complete with struts, etc., then pulling the rigging through pre-drilled hols and making them fast before gluing the other wing halves on. At any rate, the kit fabrication nixed that idea so I'll need to make do with the traditional approach.


Surface detail is good and there is a slightly rough texture on all of the surfaces, presumably to convince us of a fabric skin, though the texture extends over the metal areas as well. The panel lines are nice and thin, unlike some of the canyons on even the recent Airfix kits. The control surfaces are all separate - NICE!


Cockpit parts are apparently sufficient to provide a decent amount of detail, though the moulded framework on the sides will likely not survive my Dremel tool.


Here you can see the added Mk II sprue that includes a 3-bladed prop and a hook for the Sea Gladiator. I'm not sure what the other part is and have not looked into it. It's marked as not to be used anyway. There is a good number of parts for the engine and reviews have cautioned us to steer away from the instruction sequence to make sure that the engine, exhaust stubs, and the 3-part cowl all fit together properly. The Finnish skis can be seen at right but, as mentioned in my opening post, these are different than the Norwegian units.


There's a bit of flash that I'll need to deal with. No big deal.


The clear parts look OK but could stand a dip into the old floor wax. The instrument panel is also clear and I've never been convinced of the logic of this approach. Two windscreens are provided and I'll need to figure out which is the correct one to use.


One reviewer had difficulty with the applying the decals saying that they did not sit down with the usual decal solutions. Another comment was that the letters for the British versions is too dark and that the blue on the Finnish swastikas is too light. They do look to be nicely printed though. It's all moot for my model anyway as I'll be painting on the Norwegian stripes and cobbling spares together or making my own for the few others that I'll need.


A glance at the instructions shows that I'll need to be careful with the alignment of some parts as they are a bit vague in some cases. There is a rigging diagram provided but it's missing some of the wires. I'll rely on some good walkaround sites to get that right.

Speaking of rigging, I'll be using some flat wire that apparently one can buy for vaping equipment. This was suggested by Skydiamonds in a previous post involving someone's Swordfish but I went with a narrower width than the 0.4mm suggested. I don't vape so have no idea what this stuff is for but it has something to do with the heating element, so I gather. In any event, the 0.3mm width corresponds to about 9/16 inches wide which sounds about right for 1/48, if not a tad too wide. I wouldn't want to go any narrower than that.


I hope to get started with my first posts on Sunday as tomorrow is 1:1 Mosquito build day. See you soon.


1st Lieutenant
Feb 23, 2014
Katy Texas
Nice, now to give it ti Ted Turner so he can colorize it like he did all the B&W classics! :p


Nov 16, 2008
OK, here we go. The first thing I assembled was the cowl which, for some reason, is provided in 3 pieces. One is a full semi-circle and the other two are quarters so why the latter two could not have been made as one piece is beyond me. None of the pieces have locating pins so it's a matter of slip-slidin' the pieces together until they kinda line up. Lining up the parts is not made any easier given that the thicknesses of the mating parts vary. At any rate, here's what I ended up with before tackling the seams:


One reviewer mentioned that he found that the small troughs for the machine guns on the sides of the cowl opening (seen in the pic below) didn't line up with the troughs in the fuselage. Heck, I don't even have those so I'll need to cut these into the plastic once I get everything lined up.


The engine isn't too bad and is made up of 4 major pieces: the cylinder heads, push rods, crank case, and intake pipes. There's a prominent piece that is not featured and that is what I believe to be the oil sump that sits between the lower two cylinders. This, along with some piping, is something that I'll want to add. All of the parts go together reasonably well, though I had trouble fitting the crank case to the push rods as the hole in the former was too small. I ended up having to file down the flange on the push rod assembly and relied on the Tamiya glue to soften everything so that it would press together firmly. Now here's the thing: there is no positive means of locating the crank case relative to the cylinders so you have to carefully eyeball the piece so that the straight part on the top is perpendicular to the vertical axis of the engine. The two intake trumpets were also drilled out - still trying to figure out what these are.


Now, a similar issue occurs when fitting the engine to the firewall. Again there is no positive means of centering the engine so I marked the centers and used my Mk I eyeball to make sure the top cylinder ends up vertical.


The same thing will now happen again with the cowl and I'll need to make sure that everything lines up visually.

With the cowl cured, I started to work on the seams and things are complicated by the amount of detail that one has to avoid removing. The seam I'm working on below runs between the raised rectangular details and you can see that, despite trying to take care with my file, I managed to flatten the high point of one of the cylinder head bulges


Sprue gates are plentiful, often large, and oddly placed. The one below behind the cockpit sits half way on top of a raised panel. Go figure.....


This kit will keep me on my toes.


Nov 16, 2008
Most work to do with the engine now will need to wait until the fuselage is together, since there is no way of telling where I need to hollow out the gun troughs in the cowl until I ca trial fit it to the fuselage. I therefore started on the cockpit and, the more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to leave the canopy closed and finish what will be some semblance of a cockpit. First off, there are no details on the side walls, save for the machine guns and the squarish moulded framing. I've also now confirmed that the only IP provided is for the Mk II and I think I need the Mk I version for my rig. And then there's the seat:


Well, that looks nothing like the seat in any Gladiator pic that I've seen, so out with he sandpaper, drills, scrapers, and files:


There should be the rectangular hollow in the bottom of the seat but I;ll cover that with some belts and not bother with replicating that detail. The control column and moulded spade grip is pretty nice though, as good as any aftermarket resin part:


What should be an opening below the windscreen has an odd, very thin layer of plastic, almost like flash. This was cut out with a scalpel.


The machine guns are tiny but I did manage to drill out the flash cones....


...and stick them into the opening from inside. Again, no locating aids are provided so one's deductive powers need to be engaged.


Thanks for watching.


Benevolens Magister
Aug 24, 2008
Cheshire, UK
Good stuff so far Andy. Those 'trumpets' are, I believe, the carb and possibly oil cooler intakes.
Looking at the parts fit, if I decide to do a second Gladiator, I think I'll use the old, but still good, Inpact kit, also released under the Pyro, Lifelike and Lindbergh labels. When first released in the mid 1960s, it was way ahead of its time, and even by today's standards, the detail is still pretty good. Built one around 1970, and was impressed at the time.

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