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Great Britain's Gloster Gladiator fighter


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


The Gloster Gladiator was undertaken as a private venture to meet an Air Ministry specification published in 1930.3,4 The Gladiator was to replace the Bristol Bulldog and Gloster Gauntlet.4 H.P. Folland designed the Gladiator.4

The Gloster Gladiator by 1939 was scheduled to be replaced.2 However, due to the war time emergency it was decided to keep it in production.2

A basic metal construction with fabric covering.1,4 The forward and rear spars were made of high tensile steel and the wing leading edges were made of duraluminum.1

The radio was located in a compartment behind the pilot.1 The cockpit was completely enclosed.1


The S.S.37 prototype first flew in September 12, 1934.1,2,3,4 The Royal Air Force (RAF) started its own testing of the prototype on April 3, 1935.4

The Gladiator Mk I first flew in June 1936.3

The Sea Gladiator first flew in 1938.3


In July 1935 an order for 23 was placed.3,4 186 more were ordered in September 1935.4 The first deliveries of the Gladiator Mk I began in February 1937.3 Production ended in April 1940.3

  • Prototype / S.S.374: 13
  • Gladiator Mk I: 3782,3
  • Gladiator Mk II: 3293
  • Interim Sea Gladiator: 38 Mk IIs converted2,3
  • Sea Gladiator: 602,3
  • Total: 5811, 7683
  • Manufacturer: Gloster Aircraft Co. Ltd.4


  • Prototype / S.S.374 : Had Mercury IV (530 HP) engine.3
  • Gladiator Mk I (early): Had two 7.7 mm Vickers and two 7.7 mm Lewis MGs.1 Used Bristol Mercury IX engine (840 HP).2
  • Gladiator Mk I (later):
  • Gladiator Mk II: Three blade metal propellar.1,3,4 Used Bristol Mercury VIIA or VIIAS engine (840 HP).2 Was intended for use in North Africa so was fitted with tropical equipment.2,3
  • Sea Gladiators: Had an arrestor hook, dinghy fairing, and catapult points.1,2,4 Use on the carriers Courageous, Eagle, and Glorious.1


The countries that used the Gladiator were Belgium, Britain, China, Egypt, Eire, Finland, Greece, Iraq, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and Sweden.3

Gladiators saw action in North Africa, Greece, and Palestine in 1939 and 1940.1 These were mostly flown by Australians and South Africans.1

United Kingdom

Gladiators entered the RAF in January 1937.1,4

Eventually 20 squadrons in England were equipped from 1937 to 1940.1
There were 29 RAF and four RN squadrons equipped with Gladiators.3

The last of the Gladiators were taken out of service in 1944.1 The No. 247 Squadron was the last to fly them.1

Start of World War II

There were 13 Fighter Command squadrons equipped with the Gladiator at the start of World War II.4

Battle of France

Two squadrons went to France at the start of World War II.3,4 A squadron was used to defend the Plymouth dockyards.3

Battle of Britain

There was only one squadron of Gladiators that took part in the Battle of Britain.4


In early June 1940, on Malta, there were Sea Gladiators that were named Faith, Hope, and Charity.1,3


China received 36 in 1938.1


Bought Gladiators and used them against the Soviets.1 Some had ski landing gear installed.1


Norway used the Gladiators early in the war and some had ski landing gear installed.1

Gladiators from the destroyed HMS Glorious were flown from the frozen Lake Lesjaskog during the Norwegian campaign.3


Portugal also had Gladiators.1


A Swedish squadron, that fought with the Finns against the Soviets, shot down twelve Soviet aircraft for three Gladiator losses.1

Eighteen Gladiators were designated JBA and had Nohab Mercury VIIIS.3 radial engines.2


  Gloster Gladiator
Type Fighter3,5
Crew 13
Engine (Type) 1: Bristol Mercury5
1: Bristol Mercury VIIIA/AS3
OR 1: Bristol Mercury IX3
Cylinders Radial5, Radial 93
Cooling Air5
HP 8305, 8403
Propeller blades 2 or 33
Span 32' 3"3,5
9.83 m3
Length 27' 5"3,5
8.36 m3
Height 10' 4"3,5
3.15 m3
Wing area  
Loaded 4,750 lb5
Speed 250 mph5
Service ceiling  
Range 420 miles5
Armament 4: 0.303" MG3
Nose 2: MG5
Wings 2: MG5
  Gloster Gladiator Mk I
Type Fighter1,4
Crew 11,4
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury Mk IX1,4
Cylinders Radial1, Radial 94
Cooling Air1,4
HP 8401,4
Propeller blades 21
Span 32' 3"1,4
9.83 m1
Length 27' 5"1,4
8.36 m1
Height 10' 4"1,4
3.15 m1
Wing area 323 ft2 1
30.01 m2 1
Empty 3,450 lb1,3
1,565 kg1,3
Loaded 4,750 lb3,4, 4,751 lb1
2,155 kg1,3
Speed at sea level 210 mph3
338 kph3
Speed @ 14,500' /
4,420 m
253 mph1,3,4
407 kph1,3
Climb in 9 1/2 minutes 20,000'1
6,095 m1
Climb 2,300'/minute3
700 m/minute3
Climb to 10,000' /
3,048 m
4.7 minutes3
Service ceiling 33,000'1,3,4
10,058 m3, 10,060 m1
Range 340 miles1, 428 miles3,4
547 km1, 689 km3
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
2: Browning MG4
Wings 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
2: Browning MG4
  Gloster Gladiator Mk II
Type Fighter2,4
Crew 12,4
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury VIIIA piston2,4
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 94
Cooling Air4
HP 8402,4
Propeller blades  
Span 32' 3"2,4
9.83 m2
Length 27' 5"2,4
8.36 m2
Height 10' 2"4, 11' 9"2
3.63 m2
Wing area 323 ft2 2
30.01 m2 2
Loaded 4,850 lb4
Speed @ 14,500' /
4,420 m
255 mph2, 257 mph4
410 kph2
Climb 2,300'/minute2
701 m/minute2
Service ceiling 33,000'2, 34,000'4
10,060 m2
Range 440 miles2,4
708 km2
Armament 4: MG4
  Sea Gladiator
Engine (Type)  
Propeller blades  
Wing area  
Empty 3,745 lb3
1,699 kg3
Loaded 5,420 lb3
2,458 kg3
Service ceiling  


  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
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