Roden 1/48 Gloster Gladiator

KIT #: 408
PRICE: CAN$30.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Airwaves photo etch set


Marmaduke St. John Pattle was born in South Africa en 1914. After joining the South African Air Force, he moved to the RAF in 1937. His first squadron was 80th, which had just been equipped with Gloster Gladiators. One year later the unit was transferred to Egypt, where his skills as a pilot was evident.

As an example on July 28th 1938 Pat was testing his flaps in a flight close to their base in Ismalia when suddenly the engine coughed, died and the low flying Gladiator hit the sand and bounced back into the air. The engine started again with the impact and Pat decided to land as soon as possible before the engine failed again. But upon approaching to land everyone on the ground was gesticulating. He knew something was wrong with his plane. Gaining height he contacted the control tower from where Blockey, the Commanding Officer, informed him that the port wheel was missing! He was instructed to keep on flying until the fuel was exhausted. He flew circuits for an hour while everything was being readied on the ground. His friends were confident that he was going to be able to pull it out.

Finally the engine died and he switched it off, dove to the ground not to loose airspeed and stall and did a perfect landing using his skill to control the plane. The Gladiator run on the tail and starboard wheels and at last, when it had practically stopped, she fell on the port oleo leg.

Everyone admired the feat. The only damage to the plane was the fabric torn off from the tip of the bottom port main plane and the missing tips of the propeller blades.

K8009 was repaired, checked and it was flying again that very same afternoon with the South African at the controls.

 80 Sqn was transferred to Palestine where they fought against an insurrection loosing many planes and a couple of pilots by returning fire.

 Upon returning to Egypt kept with their normal life until on June 10th the Italians declared war on the Allies.

 On August 4th the first contact with the Regia Aeronautica took place. The formation of 4 Gladiators engaged a mixed formation of Bredas 65, Fiats 32 and 42. Pattle shot down a Breda 65 and a Fiat 42, but all the 4 outnumbered British planes except for one were shot down. Franco Lucchini might be the Italian pilot who shot down Pattle, who had to walk back to his lines in the desert.

 From that moment onwards, the combats followed without rest. His score mounted steadily. One of the planes that were giving the British pilots a hard time was the SM 79 “Sparviero” as it was faster than the Gladiators. Pat developed a system to shoot them down before they were out of range, which consisted in puncturing the wing fuel tanks and then firing into the leaking fuel. This would engulf the plane in flames.

 In November 80 Squadron was transferred to the Greek front to support operations in the Albania area. This meant constant action for the pilots.

In February, with 15 kills awarded, Pattle received his first DFC and Hurricanes started to replace the Gladiators. On February 20th he claimed the first Hurricane victory ever in this front. His wingman, “Ape” Cullen, was shot down and killed in combat on March 4th. During this month, he was given the command of 33 Squadron and a Bar to his DFC was announced. His score stood at 23 victories.

 As the Greek/Albanian campaign was becoming a disaster for the Italian forces, and to secure his Southern Flank, Hitler decided to invade Yugoslavia and Greece on April 6th. This new foe, better equipped and trained than the Italians, didn’t prevent him from scoring. In fact, on the first mission against the Germans in Bulgaria, he shot down 2 Me109s of JG77.

 The Blitzkrieg proved successful again in this theatre, where the Allied forces did not have adequate warning and their planes were generally speaking outclassed by the Germans. Strafing attacks followed without respite, and the RAF found that it was a struggle to survive. Reinforcements were thrown into the fray but there was nothing that could overcame the deficits the Allies had. Squadron Leader ‘Tap’ Jones (6 Gladiator kills against the Italians) was in command of 80 Squadron and was also acting Wing Commander of the remains of 80 and 33 Sqn. He was not flying any more and was directing the pilots from the ground using a radio, giving them the bearings to follow in order to find the attacking Germans. There was no plane-to-plane radio communication and Jones’ radio could not be heard once the Hurricanes were leaving the area above their base…Jones attitude was not well liked by Roal Dahl as he says in his book Going Solo.

 Contrary to Jones, Pattle never stopped fighting and more than 8 months of action had weakened him. By April he had influenza and under normal circumstances he should have been grounded or taken to Egypt. He was ordered not to fly unless there was an air alarm. There are a couple of versions about what happened on April 20th 1941 over Athens. Some say that the last 15 Hurricanes were flying over the city to boost the morale of the Greek population when the Germans tore into them. The other version states that the last 15 Hurricanes in Greece (9 of 33 Sqn and 6 of 80 Sqn) scrambled in duos and trios around 5 pm to face more than 100 German planes that were raiding Piraeus Harbour in Athens. This one makes more sense if you consider that he was only allowed to fly if case there was an air alarm (and not a flypast).

One of his friends and fellow ace, Timber Woods, climbed to attack some Me110s from a disadvantage position and was jumped by a Messerschmitt (other sources claim that he was low on fuel and while returning to his base he was shot down). Pat went to his aid, while a couple of 110s swiftly jumped him to protect their mate. Another British pilot (Flight Lieutenant Kettelwell) rushed to Pattle’s help. And yet another German latched to Kettelwell’s tail! So a train of a Hurricane, a Me110, another Hurricane, 2 Me110s, a Hurricane, and a last Me110 was formed like it happened in other theatres (i.e.: Saburo Sakai’s combat over Iwo Jima). At the moment that Woods was being shot down in flames, Pattle was claiming Woods victor. A fraction of a moment later, his plane was caught by the fire of the 110s on his tail, and crashed in flames in the bay with the pilot slumped over the controls. Kettelwell, who in turn was shot down by the last 110, claimed one of these 110s. He saved his life by parachute and was able (along with Canadian ace Vernon Woodward who had taken off with Pattle) to tell us the last moments of the RAF pilot. Five German pilots claimed victories during this combat (Rossiwall, Baggoe, Schonthier, Muller and Pietchsmann) so one of these is the final victor of Pattle and it would seem to show that Kettelwell actually did not avenge his leader. The Hurricanes of Pattle and Woods fell on the east coast of the island of Psitallea, outside the harbor of Piraeus and not in Eleusis Bay as originally believed.

 At the time of his death, his official score stood at 34 confirmed victories (there are no official records of him being 33 Sqn leader), but his fitter’s and friends’ testimonies put his score in the 50s area. Records of 33 Sqn, with all his last claims, were destroyed during the retreat. Afterwards, in Egypt, a new 33 Sqn Book was written using the memory accounts of the survivors. Most of the authors place him at the top the Western Allies list, with a number of claims that go from as low as 41 to 50+. Nevertheless, recent research cast doubts on some of his claims, as there was a lot of over claiming especially in the Italian and British side and some of these cannot be validated using existing records. He is nevertheless the top scoring Gladiator ace with 15 kills and if his claims are correct then his 35 Hurricane victories make him also the top scoring pilot flying the Hawker plane!

The official website of the British Ministry of Defence considers Pattle the unofficial top scoring Allied pilot of the war in article devoted to him published for the 60th anniversary of this death.


There are a couple of articles in MM regarding this kit so I won’t add a lot. The only thing that I don’t like about this kit when compared to the Lindbergh one is that the attachment points for the rigging are not holes that help you to attach the wires easily. I could have drilled them…but I was not that fast if you understand what I mean…!

The filter for the air intake does not have the proper shape but it can be improved with not a lot of work.

The cockpit is better than the Lindbergh one but would need of some aftermarket products to live it up.

Nevertheless it is good to have this offer and with a superb box art. The first one I believe that recognizes Pattle as the top scoring ace.


I started by the cockpit. Straightforward build. Painted everything in RAF Interior Green (Model Master Acryl). The panel was painted black with red edges around some gauges per pictures available. The glass of the gauges was made with drops of Future.

For the straps I used the Airwaves set for RAF fighters. The Gladiator straps go all the way behind the seat to an attachment point way behind it.

I painted the fuselage machine guns in a mix of aluminium and black.

The control column has some buttons painted in red. I dry brushed with aluminium paint some areas to show some wear.

Fuselage halves were closed. I really had a hard time keeping the instrument panel in place and perpendicular to the walls. Fit is not good at all. It looks like it is oversized…or the interior of the fuselage halves are too thick.

Some putty and sanding (plus re scribing of panel lines in the nose area) were required.

I attached the bottom wings and the horizontal surfaces of the tail. From them, in dropped position, the elevators.

To the wings I attached the flaps (x4). To the top portions I glued the main struts.

The plug to attach the landing gear to the fuselage has the wrong shape but it is not that hard to modify it with a knife and sand paper. Once done the fit is really good and only a little bit of putty or acrylic base paste are required to blend them properly with the fuselage.

The engine: lots of parts, good fit. I painted the cylinders in black and drybrushed them with aluminium. Most of the other parts were painted in this last colour. The exhaust pipes were painted in rust and attached to the engine. More about this later…

I took the rudder and attached it thru frontal area to a block of wood using Blue Tac. The idea was to paint it in white as I had seen in many pictures.

The halves of the engine cowling were glued together and some work was required to hide the union. The back of the interior I painted in RAF interior green and the internal front (collector ring) in rust.

I decided to put the engine inside the cowling so it would be easier to paint it. And here I found that the cylinders don’t fit inside it. And having all the other parts already glued made it very difficult to sand their head so they could slide inside the cowling. I managed to do it but not without snapping some of the exhaust pipes. OK, so now I have glued the engine and I realized that not only some of the pipes have come off but also many are loose and are about to fall. So I pulled them out and one by one I re attached them carefully. Then I covered the front of the engine/cowling and this part was ready for the paint.

I covered with Blue Tac the front of the fuselage (not to have any spayed silver getting inside the cockpit and damaging the finish). Masking tape and wet tissue paper filled the cockpit before the painting session.

All the little bits (small struts, doors, machine gun pods, canopy and windshield, wheel hubs) were attached to the same wooden block using Blue Tac.  And now I was ready to paint the plane.


I gave the plane a coat of light grey to check for imperfections but none were found.

Then several layers of Model Master Acryl aluminium were used for the whole plane. At this point and after double-checking some pictures from books I realized that the white rudder was not white paint but actually the reflection of the sun! So I sanded the rudder with a very fine sandpaper to improve the adhesion of the paint and gave it some coats of aluminium.

Satisfied with the finish I painted the front of the cowling and the main exhaust pipes in rust.

With black pastel dust and a brush I highlighted some areas (like the radiator) and made some other dirty. This is the way that I made the stains on the fuselage just behind the cylinders.

The plane was given a nice coat of Future. Careful handling of the top wing/main struts prevented any sticky accident.

I have never tried to paint a propeller trying to create a wood effect. I followed some directions from some friends and made some search in Internet. This is what I practiced with some blades that I took from the spares box and then repeated on the Glad’s ones: they were given a coat of very light tan (almost radome tan) with a brush and set aside to dry for a couple of days. Then I applied a light coat of oil varnish (the one you use to retouch or paint your furniture at home) over the paint. After one hour I took a piece of cotton and moved it very gently over the varnish, giving it strokes from the centre to the tip of the blades. Sometimes I over did it so I had to add more varnish. But after a couple of sessions I believe I have achieved a decent (but not too good) effect.

I mainly used the Roden decals. I read some criticism here and there about them not conforming to the shapes and panels, silvering and printing errors but I did not find such problems.

The main thing is that I had to combine some of them to have the proper serial number. I scanned them from the decal sheet and played with them with some basic picture-editing program. Then I printed them in clear decal paper, gave them a coat of Testors sealer and allowed them to dry. They were cut from the decal paper and placed in position with no problem. I then gave the plane a coat of Model Master satin.


Nightmare Part I: the fit of the top wing and struts was not good at all. The main ones were bent, the small ones in the fuselage seemed to be too long (because the main ones were bent!) After a lot of fight here and there and snapping the small and main struts many times I succeeded in having a firm fit: I glued firmly all the struts that had a good fit and then I pressed or straighten out the troublesome ones. I put some light weight things just on top of the top wing in the area of the troublesome struts and left it like that for a day waiting for the glue to cure.

I glued the rudder and went to...

Nightmare Part II: I bought stainless steel wire of 12 thou and 10 thou. The thicker one I used for the main rigging and the thinner one for the actionable controls and antenna. As stated above, it is clear where the rigging should be glued but the lack of any locating hole (too late by now!) made it really hard to get them to stay put. I scratched the paint in those places to obtain a better adhesion surface.

Well, after one full week of 2+ hours per night I managed to put all the rigging. It was not surprising to hear a tingling noise from time to time when turning the kit upside down to glue a new rigging: a previous one had come loose and was hanging by only one extreme…sometimes they would fall off…teeth grinding!

I glued the gun gondolas under the wings.

With all the rigging done I tried to attach the engine. The guides behind the firewall are not right. They are too wide. So carefully I cut them out (I was running out of patience) and glued the engine to the fuselage.

Finally I completed the straps using tan painted Tamiya paint, glued the windshield and the fixed portion of the canopy.

Then I checked the pictures about Pattle’s incident with this plane and unless they have been censored out, his plane did not have any guns in the gondolas. So I cut them out and painted a black dot where the guns where.

With more stainless wire I made the 3 supports in front of the engine inside the cowling.

I added the 2 doors, right one closed (after some extra sanding to make it fit) and right one open.

With the propeller hub painted in RAF dark brown, the propeller was attached to the engine. Now I was ready to add the 2 main exhaust pipes. I had to add some acrylic paste to improve the unions. These were later retouched with rust.

Collector ring and exhausts were drybrushed with Humbrol copper.

The formation light on the tail was painted in white and the position ones in red and green.

The last tricky part was to make the antennas using stainless (10 thou) wire. I first glued the vertical portion behind the cockpit, then the one from the tail to the vertical one and finally the two segments from the vertical to the wings.

The final detail was to add some “sand” to the wheels and it was made with drybrushed ochre pastel dust.


I think I put a good effort on this kit. This is my tribute to Pat Pattle, the greatest of them all, and his band of brothers who fought for the freedom of Greece against the Germans in such terrible conditions. Always too little, too late…


1.      Pattle Pattle.  Ace of aces - ECR Baker

2.      Gloster Gladiator - Alex Crawford

3.      Military History Journal Vol 1, No3 - The South African Military History Society - Douglas Tidy

4.      Aces high volume 2 - Christopher Shores

5.      Commonwealth biplane fighter aces - Intenet (

6.      Going solo - Roald Dahl

7.      Pictorial History of the Mediterranean Air War Volume One, RAF 1940-1943 - Christopher Shores

8. (detailed picture of the engine)

9.      Hurricane aces 1939-40 - Chris Holmes

10. Me 110 aces of WWII - John Weal

11. Gladiator Aces – Andrew Thomas

12. Spitfire - J.A. Guerrero

13. Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete – Shores, Cull, Malizza

14. Hurricane aces 1941-1945 – Andrew Thomas

15. (MoD website)

16. Wikipedia

Pablo Calcaterra

April 2011

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