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Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter

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Gloster Gladiator fighter:
Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Gloster Gladiator fighter:
Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Gloster Gladiator fighter:
Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter
Gloster Gladiator fighter:
Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter
Gloster Gladiator fighter:
Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter

Design

The Gloster Gladiator was undertaken as a private venture to meet an Air Ministry specification published in 1930. The Gladiator was to replace the Bristol Bulldog and Gloster Gauntlet. H.P. Folland designed the Gladiator.

The Gloster Gladiator by 1939 was scheduled to be replaced. However, due to the war time emergency it was decided to keep it in production.

A basic metal construction with fabric covering. The forward and rear spars were made of high tensile steel and the wing leading edges were made of duraluminum.

The radio was located in a compartment behind the pilot. The cockpit was completely enclosed.

Prototypes

The S.S.37 prototype first flew in September 12, 1934. The Royal Air Force (RAF) started its own testing of the prototype on April 3, 1935.

The Gladiator Mk I first flew in June 1936.

The Sea Gladiator first flew in 1938.

Production

In July 1935 an order for 23 was placed. 186 more were ordered in September 1935. The first deliveries of the Gladiator Mk I began in February 1937. Production ended in April 1940.

  • Prototype / S.S.37: 1
  • Gladiator Mk I: 378
  • Gladiator Mk II: 329
  • Interim Sea Gladiator: 38 Mk IIs converted
  • Sea Gladiator: 60
  • Total: 581, 768
  • Manufacturer: Gloster Aircraft Co. Ltd.

Variants

  • Prototype / S.S.37 : Had Mercury IV (530 HP) engine.
  • Gladiator Mk I (early): Had two 7.7 mm Vickers and two 7.7 mm Lewis MGs. Used Bristol Mercury IX engine (840 HP).
  • Gladiator Mk I (later):
  • Gladiator Mk II: Three blade metal propellar. Used Bristol Mercury VIIA or VIIAS engine (840 HP). Was intended for use in North Africa so was fitted with tropical equipment.
  • Sea Gladiators: Had an arrestor hook, dinghy fairing, and catapult points. Use on the carriers Courageous, Eagle, and Glorious.

Usage

The countries that used the Gladiator were Belgium, Britain, China, Egypt, Eire, Finland, Greece, Iraq, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and Sweden.

Gladiators saw action in North Africa, Greece, and Palestine in 1939 and 1940. These were mostly flown by Australians and South Africans.

United Kingdom

Gladiators entered the RAF in January 1937.

Eventually 20 squadrons in England were equipped from 1937 to 1940.
There were 29 RAF and four RN squadrons equipped with Gladiators.

The last of the Gladiators were taken out of service in 1944. The No. 247 Squadron was the last to fly them.

Start of World War II

There were 13 Fighter Command squadrons equipped with the Gladiator at the start of World War II.

Battle of France

Two squadrons went to France at the start of World War II. A squadron was used to defend the Plymouth dockyards.

Battle of Britain

There was only one squadron of Gladiators that took part in the Battle of Britain.

Malta

In early June 1940, on Malta, there were Sea Gladiators that were named Faith, Hope, and Charity.

China

China received 36 in 1938.

Finland

Bought Gladiators and used them against the Soviets. Some had ski landing gear installed.

Norway

Norway used the Gladiators early in the war and some had ski landing gear installed.

Gladiators from the destroyed HMS Glorious were flown from the frozen Lake Lesjaskog during the Norwegian campaign.

Portugal

Portugal also had Gladiators.

Sweden

A Swedish squadron, that fought with the Finns against the Soviets, shot down twelve Soviet aircraft for three Gladiator losses.

Eighteen Gladiators were designated JBA and had Nohab Mercury VIIIS.3 radial engines.

Specifications

  Gloster Gladiator
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Mercury
1: Bristol Mercury VIIIA/AS
OR 1: Bristol Mercury IX
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 830, 840
Propeller blades 2 or 3
Dimensions  
Span 32' 3"
9.83 m
Length 27' 5"
8.36 m
Height 10' 4"
3.15 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 4,750 lb
Performance  
Speed 250 mph
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 420 miles
Armament 4: 0.303" MG
Nose 2: MG
Wings 2: MG
  Gloster Gladiator Mk I
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury Mk IX
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 840
Propeller blades 2
Wood
Dimensions  
Span 32' 3"
9.83 m
Length 27' 5"
8.36 m
Height 10' 4"
3.15 m
Wing area 323 ft2
30.01 m2
Weight  
Empty 3,450 lb
1,565 kg
Loaded 4,750 lb, 4,751 lb
2,155 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Speed at sea level 210 mph
338 kph
Speed @ 14,500' /
4,420 m
253 mph
407 kph
Climb in 9 1/2 minutes 20,000'
6,095 m
Climb 2,300'/minute
700 m/minute
Climb to 10,000' /
3,048 m
4.7 minutes
Service ceiling 33,000'
10,058 m, 10,060 m
Range 340 miles, 428 miles
547 km, 689 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG
2: Browning MG
Wings 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG
2: Browning MG
  Gloster Gladiator Mk II
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury VIIIA piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 840
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 32' 3"
9.83 m
Length 27' 5"
8.36 m
Height 10' 2", 11' 9"
3.63 m
Wing area 323 ft2
30.01 m2
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 4,850 lb
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 14,500' /
4,420 m
255 mph, 257 mph
410 kph
Climb 2,300'/minute
701 m/minute
Service ceiling 33,000', 34,000'
10,060 m
Range 440 miles
708 km
Armament 4: MG
  Sea Gladiator
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 3,745 lb
1,699 kg
Loaded 5,420 lb
2,458 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site