The Gloster Gladiator 

Great Britain
Great Britain

side view front view under view

Not fully happy with the Gauntlet, and feeling there was more to it, Gloster decided to further develop it's Gauntlet design to produce a better aircraft (also bi-wing). The result turned out one of the best bi-planes of the war, with advanced features such as an enclosed cockpit and trailing-edge flaps. It's performance was enough to convince the British Air Ministry that this aircraft could handle itself as an interim, while waiting for the more advanced monowing planes.

Versions:

Further pictures:

The Gloster Gladiator in full flight
The Gloster Gladiator in full flight

 

Technical data on the Gloster Gladiator Mk I
Powerplant 1 × Bristol Mercury IX radial, rated at 830 hp (618.76 kW) Role during war
  • Fighter
Length 27 ft 5 inch Height 10 ft 7 inch with tail down
Empty weight 3450 lb Operational weight 4750 lb max
Wing Span 32 ft 3 inch Wing Aspect ratio Bi-plane
Wing Area 323 sq ft Service ceiling 32800 ft
Maximum speed 253 mph at 14600 ft Cruising speed 225 mph at 14500 ft
Initial climb rate 2,300 ft per min,
Climb to 15,000 ft in 5 min 40 sec
Range 428 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 70 Imp gal (84,06 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.303 inch Browning fixed forward firing in the sides of the nose, 600 rounds each
  • 2 × 0.303 inch Browning trainable rearward-firinggun in the leading edge of the lower wings, 400 rounds each
Cannons -
Bomb load - Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1 Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 12 September 1934 Operational Service February 1937 - 1949
Manufacturer Gloster Aircraft Co. Ltd. Number produced 932 total, 378 this version
Metric system
Length 8.36 m Height 3.23 m with tail down
Empty weight 1565 kg Operational weight 2155 kg max
Wing Span 9.83 m Wing Aspect ratio 1
Wing Area 30.01 m² Service ceiling 9997 m
Maximum speed 407 km/h at 4450 m Cruising speed 362 km/h at 4420 m
Initial climb rate 701 m per min,
4.572 m in 5 min 40 sec
Range 689 km max
Fuel capacity internal 318 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 7,7 mm Browning fixed forward firing in the sides of the nose, 600 rounds each
  • 2 × 7,7 mm Browning trainable rearward-firinggun in the leading edge of the lower wings, 400 rounds each
Cannons -
Bomb load - Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Gloster Gladiator 
Gloster Gladiator Mk I See details above. This version equipped a lot of home-defense squadrons, while waiting for more advanced aircraft. Later the surplus of these aircraft were sent to Malta and the North African Theatre, where the opponents were mainly Italian bi-planes.
Number built: 378
Gloster Gladiator Mk II Built with the North African theatre in mind, it had a sand/dust filter, a partially automatic boost control carburetor, an electric starter, a desert survival kit and improved instrumentation. Further changes included the Mercury VIIIA radial, rated 830 hp (619 kW), a height of 11 ft 7 in (3.52 m), an empty weight of 3,444 lb (1.562 kg), max take-off weight of 4,864 lb (2.206 kg), max level speed of 257 mph (414 km/h) at 14,600 ft (4.450 m), climb to 10,000 ft (3.050 m) in 4 minutes 30 seconds, and a service ceiling of 33,500 ft (11.570 m).
Number built: 270
Gloster Sea Gladiator (Interim) Based on the Gloster Gladiator Mk II, but with naval instruments, radio and an arrester hook
Number built: 38
Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk I Based on the Gladiator Mk II, but with an arrester hook and provisions to be launched by catapult. Other changes include a fuel capacity of 83 Imp gal (99.7 US gal; 377,3 liters), empty weight of 3,554 lb (1.612 kg), max take-off weight of 5,020 lb (2.277 kg), max level speed of 253 mph (407 km/h) at 14,600 ft (4.450 m), climb to 10,000 ft (3.050 m) in 4 minutes 45 seconds, and a service ceiling of 32,300 ft (9.845 m).
Number built: 60
Export Gloster Gladiators A lot of Gladiators were exported before the war, see table below

Gloster Gladiator (Belgium) 22 Gladiator Mk I's were delivered before May 1938. None of these survived the war in 1940 when Germany invaded Belgium
Gloster Gladiator (China) 36 Gladiator Mk I's were delivered before late 1938 in an attempt to provide defenses against the Japanese airforce, but were hopelessly outclassed.
Gloster Gladiator (Ireland) 4 Gladiator Mk I's were delivered in 1938, and remained in service until 1941
Gloster Gladiator (Greece) 2 Gladiator Mk. I's were bought in 1938 by a Greek bussinessman, and 17 transferred Mk I's and II's in 1940 helped the Greek against the Italians and later the Germans. All were destroyed in the battles until Greece surrendered.
Gloster Gladiator (Latvia) 26 Gladiator Mk I's were delivered before October 1937. Some of the aircraft probably survived and received Russian markings in 1940 after conquest by the USSR. These aircraft were armed by 3 × 0.303 in (7,7 mm) guns.
Gloster Gladiator (Lithuania) 14 Gladiator Mk I's were delivered together with the Latvian Gladiators, and shared ultimately the same fate.
Gloster Gladiator (Norway) 6 Gladiator Mk I's and 6 Gladiator Mk II's were ordered while negotiating to built them under license. These aircraft fought against the Luftwaffe in April 1940. At least four enemy planes were reported to be shot down. The Gladiators were armed with 4 × 0.3 in (7,62 mm) guns. All aircraft were destroyed.
Gloster Gladiator (Portugal) 15 Gladiator Mk II's were delivered in February 1939. They saw no action
Gloster Gladiator (Sweden) 37 Gladiator Mk I's and 18 Gladiator Mk II's were delivered to Sweden. Although Sweden remained neutral during the War, some volunteers went to Finland to aid their neighbours in the Winter War against the USSR. The Swedish aircraft were fitted with underwing racks to carry 8 light bombs. Three of the aircraft were lost against the USSR, but scored big successes against their enemy.


Number built: 186

Remarks:

The Gloster saw action over France and Norway were they suffered heavy losses. After that the remaining aircraft were sent to the Mediterranean Middle East, and to the North African Theatre. There they achieved successes over the Italian airforce that was equiped with bi-planes as well as first generation monowing planes. It was not until the Germans came to the aid of the Italians that the Gladiators were finally outclassed.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00