Gloster Gladiator In Action (Aircraft number 187)
By W.A. Harrison
Publisher: Squadron Signal Publications 2003 52 Pages
PDF 18 MB
The Gladiator was the last of a long line of British biplane lighters designed by tne Uioster Aircraft Company, Ltd1 and the last biplane fighter to serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF). Its predecessor and similar stablemate. the Gauntlet, had entered RAF service in May of 1935. The mid-1930s had seen biplane fighter designs reaching their pinnacle, with the likes of the Hawker Fury, Fairey Fantome, Armstrong Whitworth Scimitar, and the Gladiator. Design requirements limited the maximum speed and loads, but all were highly maneuverable and a delight to fly. These biplanes marked the end of an era; the first single-seat, multi-gun monoplane fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane and Supennarine Spitfire, made them all obsolete virtually overnight. What the industrial and military authorities could not foresee was that, due to circumstances at the time, the Gladiator would see out its service life in the role for which it was designed - air-to-air combat. When the Germans overran much of Europe, their modem Luftwaffe came up against Gladiators, not only in RAF colors, but those of other countries as well. Many of these countries used them to fight to the bitter end; the Gladiator's small rifle-caliber machine guns were no match for Bf 109s armed with cannon. In the Middle East. Gladiators provided essential fighter cover lor the island of Malta until Hurricanes arrived.