Valiant Wings Publishing | The Gloster Gladiator: A Detailed Guide to the RAF's Last Biplane Fighter

Reviewed by Kevin Futter

Valiant Wings Publishing has just released the 12th instalment in their Airframe Album series, entitled The Gloster Gladiator: A Detailed Guide To The RAF's Last Biplane Fighter. In common with previous titles in the series, this one is authored by Richard A. Franks, a well-known name in modelling and aviation publishing.

The first thing that strikes you with this book is the terrific cover art by Seweryn Fleischer. The presentation of material in this book is impressive throughout. Photographs are generally clear and crisply reproduced, as are the 3D isometric line drawings by Chris Sandham-Bailey. The colour profiles by Richard Caruana are handsomely rendered.

The content itself is organised into four main sections plus an introduction and appendices:

It should be evident from the list of contents alone that this title is aimed squarely at the modeller. There's plenty here for aviation enthusiasts and Gladiator aficionados too, but the emphasis is on providing the modeller with copious data and as much detail as possible.

The Introduction is actually a 37-page potted history of the Gladiator, and makes for very interesting reading if you're not intimately familiar with the development of the type. I found myself quite surprised by the large number of foreign operators, for example, with Latvia apparently being the first country to place an order!

The Technical Description section of the book is packed with period photographs, technical drawings, and photos of several restored examples. The airframe is covered pretty comprehensively from nose to tail, with special emphasis on those areas of the most interest to modellers: cockpit and engine. There are also some neat drawings and photos of the internal structure of the airframe.

The section on the evolution of the airframe gives a concise but very clear overview of the development of the Gladiator, from its initial concept as an "improved Gauntlet", to prototypes and pre-production airframes, right through to the modifications incorporated into the foreign-operated variants.

The Camouflage and Markings section covers the type's use by the RAF, FAA, and foreign air forces, and includes an impressive variety of attractive colour schemes. A decent selection of period photographs is included, along with the terrific colour profiles.

I'd like to see larger versions of some of the photos, but that's a perennial constraint that all aviation publications have to deal with, and hardly a criticism.

The last of the main sections of the book features only a single model build. Happily for LSP modellers, it's a terrific build of the Silver Wings 1/32 scale Gladiator kit by Steve A. Evans. Evans laments his lack of rigging prowess, but the finished model—finished in Finnish colours—is stunning.

The final section is the Appendices, and these follow the customary pattern for this series of books, in outlining what options the modeller has in terms of kits, accessories, decals and masks for producing a scale replica Gladiator. Only a smattering of 1/32 scale items is available, unfortunately.

The book rounds things out with a bibliography of existing titles covering the Gladiator, which serves as a handy launch pad for further research into the type.

Here's a small selection of sample pages, courtesy of Valiant Wings:


Conclusion

This is a detailed, comprehensive and modeller-friendly title. If you're building, or intend to build, a model of the Gladiator in any scale, this book will prove invaluable, and I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review sample.

© Kevin Futter 2017

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This review was published on Monday, October 30 2017; Last modified on Monday, October 30 2017