Gloster "Bleariator"

Started by sequoiaranger, June 09, 2009, 09:50:47 AM

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RW "Whif"!!

Malta's famous Gladiators from the dark days of 1940 had a hybridized cousin cobbled together by the innovative mechanics at the airfield's machine shop. Dubbed the "Bleariator", it was fashioned from a Blenhiem engine, Fairey Swordfish wing, and Gladiator components. This plane was supposedly test-flown, with markedly better performance than a standard Sea Gladiator, but was destroyed in an air raid before engaging in combat. Possibly this plane had two machine guns "Great War" style mounted atop the top wing. Such is the subject of my "what-if".

On Pages 370-371 of Christopher Shores' authoritative "Malta, the Hurricane Years 1940-41", a description of the Bleariator reads:

"Air Commodore Carter Jones, then Wg.Cdr. Commanding RAF Luqa, recorded in his 1943 unpublished manuscript: "But unique among the aircraft we possessed, and perhaps amongst aircraft produced during the last few years, yet typical of our constant shortages in Malta and our makeshift remedies, was the 'Bleariator'. The Bleariator owed its original conception and subsequent development to an ingenious and capable Engineering Officer; who having a number of severely damaged aircraft in his workshops, and seeing no chance of ever obtaining any spares, decided to construct a fighter of his own design. The Bleariator originally started life as a Gladiator, but having been badly shot up in combat, its engine was considerably damaged, and various portions of its mainplanes were practically unrepairable. A bomb-blasted Blenheim and a damaged Swordfish, however, provided the missing components, and Bleariator was finally tested by the designer himself; powered with a Blenheim engine and Swordfish wingtips. The flight test was certainly encouraging as the performance as a whole, and particularly the climb, was considerably in advance of the more orthodox Gladiator. Before, however, the eagerly-awaited day when the Bleariator should have gone into action for the first time, it was unfortunately destroyed on the ground by a near miss from an Italian bomb."

Proposed Model Components:

Standard Heller Gloster Gladiator—

Airfix Bristol Blenheim---for engine/cowling and horizontal tailplanes (modified, of course)

Matchbox Supermarine Walrus—wings(?) [Thanks for the donation, Brian!], cut down a bit, vertical tailplane (re-shaped)

Airfix RAF Rescue Craft—wingtop machine guns

Matchbox Henschel Hs-126---rear fuselage extension

Fujimi Stuka--spats (modified)

Roundels enhanced with small, red Maltese crosses in place of center red dot (use Aussie roundels!)

Camo done as aerial of Valetta (from postcard and memory) with light and dark ochres, gray, and medium blue.

N5531—six-gun Gladiator—261 squadron—XJ codes (or 806 squadron FAA)

Consider this a "preview". I am still working on my Aichi 119 after a SERIOUS mishap, but look to the future build above.

I entered Valetta harbor by ship on a beautiful day this past winter, and was inspired by the colors and history of the island. I have always wanted to make a RW Gladiator from Malta, but now, armed with information and inspiration, I will "whif" one up instead.
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!


Sounds interesting! Looking forward to seeing it. :)
Some of my models can be found on my Flickr album >>>HERE<<<

Captain Canada

That does sound interesting ! Since it's not April 1st, I'm still not sure if you're telling the truth or making this up.....

:thumbsup: :drink:
CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?


>That does sound interesting ! Since it's not April 1st, I'm still not sure if you're telling the truth or making this up.....<

Oh, come now. Would I *EVER* make stuff up?  :wacko:

NO, the Bleariator is/was a "real" aircraft being cobbled together at Malta in 1940. I will probably "add" to the real-world whif (additional length) and incorporate something that was also put on a real Gladiator (but PROBABLY not the Bleariator)--wing-top guns. You know the "old" kind with the horizontal, circular magazines and pull-chains for activation (Lewis-type guns). In Christopher Shores' book, he also describes this particular six-gun Gladiator as looking like something Billy Bishop or Mannoc would have been riding in over the Western Front in WW I.

So the Bleariator I make will be a blend of largely real-world whifs plus a little Sequoiaranger magic.
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!

Captain Canada

CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?


The paint wasn't even dry on the Aichi 119 (well, sort of--the model was done, but a mishap during photographing sent it back to the shop for repair/repaint) as I cut styrene for the Bleariator!

It'll be like my Shiden-Kai/Jinpu-Kai whif--keeping the essential look whilst expanding the dimensions and power. I am lengthening it a bit, widening it a bit (needing a different canopy), lengthening the nose with the Blenheim engine, increasing the wingspan, and adding two guns. I will turn the underwing .303 popguns of the Gladiator into 20mm, and put two exposed Lewis .303 guns above the top wing on brackets. All tailplanes will be larger in dimension, but shaped the same. Regrettably the "fabric" look of the rear fuselage (but not the wings ) will mostly disappear. I think it will end up looking like a 1/65-scale Gladiator!

I will use the Walrus wings (from BdB) that were casts-off from his "Wallop a Walrus", but cut down spanwise a bit. Lots to fit, ponder, and saw, not to mention megaPSR, but Malta needs defending, and here is the plane to do it!
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!


Interesting parts choices and it will actually look very Gloster-ish.

The Walrus wings combined with enlarged Gladiator tail will be reminiscent of the TSR.38 (competitor to the spec. won by the Swordfish):

and the Blenheim cowling is similar to that of the F.5/34.



Here are the basic parts to the "Bleariator". The turquoise fuselage is from a Matchbox Hs-126, the light blue tailplanes (and engine/cowling) are from an Airfix Blenheim. The "dirty" wings and vertical tail are from a Matchbox Supermarine Walrus that BdB had leftover after "Walloping a Walrus" for an airliner whif. The swept Walrus wings were a little too wide in span, so I cut out a section (shown for comparison) of the bottom wing, taking out that big hole anyway. The top wing was a little different, but I did virtually the same. You can see the white .080 spacer running down the center of the Heller Gladiator fuselage.

Here is a combined shot of the "Bleariator" concept as well as a "Your Workbench in Full Glory" shot. I have shaped the Blenheim tailplanes to a more rounded "Gladiator" shape, as well as the Walrus vertical stabilizer, which I have combined with the tailpiece of the Hs-126. You can see the old Gladiator tailpiece for comparison. The light blue in the nose is the Blenheim cowling. I had to customize the propeller mount to make sure I could add the prop after painting and it would still spin.

Workbench-wise, in the upper part is my indispensable Moto-tool with the white, pointy handle of my Binks airbrush protruding (I use an old hat to cushion the sensitive nose of the airbrush when I put it down!). I have flyfishing line (aerial wire), 1/72-scale ruler, files, brushes, saws, razors, old (but still good) $.15 Pactra bottles, six types of glues and five types of thinners, scrap plastic, blower brush, nippers, tweezers, dial caliper, etc. Slightly out of sight is a homemade diagonal magnetic strip to put Moto-tool accessories for easy access. Normally at this stage of the construction I wouldn't have quite this much "stuff" out, but I had not cleaned up after the Aichi 119 yet. Still, this is only about a fifty-ith of the stuff I have for "workbenching". Long ago I used to have a dedicated room for my modeling stuff and it was all within arm's reach or two steps, but now it's out in the garage where I wear a path to and from.

jcf--Funny that the Gloster TSR has swept-back wings that will almost be duplicated on the Bleariator. AND, the interplane struts will likewise be a little tilted out due to the top wing being a skosh longer in span. Hmmm. And I had already done something similar to the F.5/34 as a "Gloster Gadfly".

It will be interesting to compare the Gadfly with the Bleariator when it's done.
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!

Brian da Basher

Those slightly swept Walrus wings make your Bleariator look built for speed, SR!
:thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Brian da Basher


Quote from: Brian da Basher on June 20, 2009, 01:43:05 PM
Those slightly swept Walrus wings make your Bleariator look built for speed, SR!

I never thought I'd see the words 'speed' and 'Walrus' in the same sentence....  :lol:
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



I've been thinking  (VERY dangerous) about WHY the RW concoction of Gladiator, Swordfish, and Blenheim from the workshop in Malta was called "Bleariator". I can see the "BLE" from "Blenheim", and of course the "IATOR" from "Gladiator", but the remaining "AR", or at least the "A", doesn't seem to come from "Swordfish". I would think a better conglomerate name would have been "BLORDIATOR" that would incorporate more "properly" the three components (and keep the "D" that appears in both Swordfish and Gladiator but was mysteriously absent in the RW conglomerate name). Maybe I have "b*stardized" the plane enough to allow giving it a new name, but I had wanted to commemorate and nearly duplicate the RW whif of a desperate Malta.

I realize, too, that *MY* whif doesn't even have any Swordfish components, but my original intention was to use Swordfish wings. I found that the *KIT* Swordfish wings I had were way too thick and ugly, but that the better Walrus wings were almost identical in look to the Swordfish, so I am CALLING the Walrus wings "Swordfish" wings for the purposes of my whif.

Maybe I can justify "Blordiator" by supposing that the RW Bleariator was so successful that a "better" version was cobbled together using a downed Italian reconnaissance plane in the mix as well and needed a new name to distinguish it from the "inferior" Bleariator. Also, from a public exhibition standpoint, the public would "get" the inference of "Blordiator" better than "Bleariator".

Hmmmm.  :unsure:
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!


Gott im Himmel---caught thinking again!

Here are some more conglomeration names that include components of "Blenheim", "Swordfish", and "Gladiator":












and then there "must" be a conglomeration of the three manufacturer names:





Fairbriglos (Sounds too much like fiberglass?)

So, to keep the alliteration going (seemingly important for British aircraft names to alliterate with their manufacturer) and to preserve some semblance of the same number of syllables, my new concoction should be called EITHER the Glosteybris Glenordiator, or Bristeyglos Blordiator, methinks.  I think I favor the former, as it rolls off the tongue better, and even has the first TWO sounds alliterative.

Surely *YOU* can think up others!   :wacko:
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!


Oi, just call' it 'Len'.  ;D

Taking the 'classics' approach you could go with Gladius which ties directly with Gladiator
and the first half of Swordfish.
A connection with Blenheim is more of a reach, but as Blenheim was a battle fought when swords
were still a common battle-field weapon it sort of fits.

Gladius is also appropriate for a Mediterranean theatre creation and could be considered
a two-finger salute to Mussolini and his dreams of making the Med into a neo- Roman
Mare Nostrum.



Thanks for thinking up a new name.

What I am trying to do, though, is incorporate the THREE real aircraft that are included in the whif.  I am leaning toward Glosteybris, as the MAIN component (though now hard to justify) is supposedly the Gladiator made by Gloster and deserves top billing. But another way to describe the plane is to give it names in sequence from the nose to tail, which would be Bristol (engine/cowling), then Fairey (wings), then Gloster (fuselage), thus "Bristeyglos". Then, I would somehow like to pay homage to "Bleariator", so maybe keep the manufacturer in "proper" parlance, and shift the aircraft name away from alliteration to construction sequence and make it the Glosteybris Blordiator. WHAT A DILEMMA!

Are the voices in my head too loud for you?   ;D
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!

Brian da Basher

"Blenfishiator" and his orchestra? ;)

While "Bristerfair" and "Bristeyglos" may require medical attention and "Glordiator" may make people think of the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", "Swordiator" could be yet another option....
I'll get me coat...
Brian da Basher