Aviation of World War II

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«Gladiator» Mk.I Finland

GLOSTER GLADIATOR - The Gloster SS.37 single-seat four-gun fighter biplane was designed by H P Folland's team during 1933 as a Gauntlet derivative to Specification F.7/30. A prototype, powered initially by a 485 hp Mercury IV and with open cockpit, was flown on September 12, 1934. Armament comprised two 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers guns in forward fuselage and two similar calibre Lewis guns under the lower wings.

Gloster Gladiator I: Initial production batch of 23 ordered to Specification F.14/35 in June 1935 and subsequent RAF contracts for 203, first flown January 1937 and deliveries February 1937 to late 1938. Fully enclosed cockpit, 825 hp Mercury IX with Watts two-blade wooden propeller and four 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning guns (early aircraft had Lewis or Vickers Mk V underwing guns). Entered service with No 72 Squadron, February 1937. Some converted to Gloster Gladiator II standard, and operational details as noted under Gloster Gladiator II. During 1937, 26 Gloster Gladiator Is supplied to Latvia and 14 to Lithuania, some of these sub-sequently flying in Soviet markings after those countries had been sequestered in 1940. Fifteen of these Gloster Gladiators fell into German hands in 1941, and most of them were then adapted to serve as tugs at the Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 glider pilot training school as Langendiebach during 1942 and 1943, towirfg DFS 230 gliders. Norway acquired six Gloster Gladiator Is with 0.30 in (7.62 mm) Colt guns in 1938 and these were operational against German forces in 1940. The Belgian Aeronautique Militaire acquired 22 Gloster Gladiator Is in 1937/38, these equipping the lere Escadrille de Chasse at the time of th,e German invasion in May 1940. Fifteen Gloster Gladiator Is went to the Iraqi Air Force in 1937-38, some being operational in the Iraqi uprising in 1941. Up to 29 ex-RAF

Gloster Gladiator Is and IIs went to Iraq in 1942-44. Max speed, 253 mph (407 km/h) at 14,500 ft (4,420 m). Time to 10,000 ft (3,050 m), 4.75 min. Service ceiling, 32,800ft (9,996 m). Empty weight, 3,217 lb (1,458 kg). Gross weight, 4,594 lb (2,082 kg). Span, 32ft 3 in (9.80 m). Length, 27ft 5 in (8.20 m). Wing area, 323 sq ft (29.9 m2).

Gloster Gladiator II: Introduced 825 hp Mercury VIIIA driving three-blade Fairey metal propeller, improved instruments and equipment. Production to Specification F.36/37, com-mencing 1939; total 318 ordered for the RAF, completed 1939. Operational in 1939 (togeth-er with some Gloster Gladiator Is) with two squadrons in BEF in France, in 1940 with one squadron in Norway, and in 1940/41 with four RAF squadrons, one RAAF squadron and three SAAF squadrons in Middle East and North Africa. Equipped 12 Meteorological Flights in UK and flew in this and other secondary roles until 1945. Foreign deliveries, ex-RAF includ-ed six for Norway (with six Mk Is), about 17 for Royal Hellenic Air Force in 1940/41, and some 42 for Egyptian Air Force, 1939/41. Twelve of 55 Swedish Gloster Gladiators - designat-ed J8 and, when fitted with Swedish-built 740 hp Mercury VII, J8A - operated in Finland by Swedish volunteer group in Winter War of 1939/40, often on skis, alongside 30 ex-RAF Gloster Gladiator IIs used by the Finnish Air Force itself from 1940 to 1944.

Max speed, 257 mph (414 km/h) at 14,600 ft (4,449 m). Time to 10,000 ft (3,050 m), 4.5 min. Service ceiling, 33,500 ft (11,570 m). Gross weight, 4,864 lb (2,206kg).

Gloster Sea Gladiator: 22 early-production Gloster Gladiator IIs modified for Naval service with arrester hook, FAA radio and equipment, delivered December 1938 and known as Gloster Sea Gladiator (Interim). Sixty production Gloster Sea Gladiators had catapult spools and additional equipment, delivered early 1939. Served operationally with five FAA squadrons from May 1939 (starting with No 801 aboard HMS Courageous, Feb 1939), and involved in defence of Norway and of Malta. Gross weight, 5,020 lb (2,272 kg). Dimensions as for Gloster Gladiator I.

Mk.I Mk.II Sea Gladiator
Crew 1
Length, m 8.36
Wing span, m 9.83
Wing area, m2 30.01
Empty weight, kg 1459 1562 1612
Loaded weight, kg 2063 2206 2277
Bristol Mercury IX VIIIA lub VIIIAS VIIIA lub VIIIAS
Power, kW at altitude 4420m 610 610 610
Maximum speed km/h 407 414 407
at altitude m 4420 4420 4420
Service range, km 690 714 668
Photo Description
Drawing Gladiator Mk.I

Drawing Gladiator Mk.I

'Gladiator Mk.I' (Nr 114), intended for Latvia, middle of 1937

'Gladiator Mk.I' (Nr 114), intended for Latvia, middle of 1937.

Gloster Gladiator in flight

Gloster Gladiator in flight


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "British warplanes of World War II" /under cor. Daniel March/
  • "Air War" /Nr 72/