Gloster Gladiator Mk. 1 with British Pilots in Tropical Uniform

Published: March 14th, 2021     
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Box Art
Reviewed by: Gino Dykstra - IPMS# 11198
Scale: 1/32
Company: ICM
Price: $62.99
Product / Stock #: 32043
Product provided by: ICM

Gloster's elegant Gladiator biplane was a staple of the British Air Force through the 1930's and soldiered on through some of the tougher early campaigns of the Second World War in such places as Egypt, Libya and the Maltese Islands. Battling against often superior and newer opponents, it nonetheless distinguished itself before itself being replaced by newer, faster, and more heavily armed aircraft. It also made its presence known in a number of foreign services including Finland, Greece and the Netherlands.

ICM has released a number of variants of the Gladiator, including both Mk. I and Mk. II versions as well as the Sea Gladiator with arresting hook. All of these have proven to be thoroughly enjoyable builds and really do a fine job of representing this noble little aircraft in 1/32nd scale. This combo set features the Mk. I only and does not include parts for either the Mk. II or Sea Gladiator.

There are only a couple of real caveats on the assembly process. First, be aware of the fragility of the mail landing gear. The inner hubcap attaches to the gear only one way, and if you inadvertently twist it (as I did) you'll sheer it right off. The simplest way to ensure a good fit is to attach the inner wheel hub to the landing gear during assembly and add the outer wheel and cover separately.

The other has nothing to do with the kit itself, and that's the rigging. This model, like a lot of biplanes, has its fair share of rigging. This is a real bugaboo for a number of modelers, and there are probably as many solutions to this as modelers. I took the coward's way and drilled through the wings so that I could tighten up the lines as easily as possible. Others may try to install turnbuckles and rig it in that fashion. Any way you look at it, this is the most time-consuming portion of the build and demands some patience. Done properly, though, it will make this kit really stand out in your collection.

In this double packaging you also get ICM's excellent pilots in tropical uniform. This set of three figures is a miniature vignette in and of themselves, as two pilots clarify some point of dispute with a ground officer. All three feature definite British facial features and the poses are natural and well done. Although the figures feature minimal equipment (as is appropriate) there are still some areas of caution, as the life vests and oxygen masks require a bit of care in proper assembly. The hoses for the masks definitely need a little gentle bending to make them look more natural.

If there is any disappointment for me with this combo release is that ICM has been quite conservative in their approach. They chose not to include either the Mk. II or Sea Gladiator parts (although these are really quite small changes) and didn't even upgrade the decals. Although the decals in the kit are really very good and lay exceptionally well, I would have liked to have seen more options. Revell and some other manufacturers were always quite clever by providing options in their combo kits that were unavailable any other way. The only real advantage in buying this set is a reduction in overall price. Otherwise, it offers nothing that can't be had buying these items separately. I've seen this in other ICM combo kits and I feel they're really missing out on an opportunity here.

That being said, these are still two terrific sets, and they look GREAT together. The Gladiator, as well as being the only current model in this scale, is exceptionally well detailed and very much looks the part. The figures feature ICM's typical attention to detail and the sculpting overall is first rate. You really can't go wrong with this set, and it makes a quick vignette right out of the box. Highly recommended.

My thanks to ICM, as always, for making models I've only dreamed of for years, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to play with them. Lovely! And as always, stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!

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