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Gloster Gladiator

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere

The Gloster Gladiator (or Gloster SS.37) was a British-built biplane fighter, used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy (as the Sea Gladiator variant) and was exported to a number of other air forces during the late 1930s. It was the RAF's last biplane fighter aircraft and was rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs even as it was being introduced. Though often pitted against more formidable foes during the early days of the Second World War, it acquitted itself reasonably well in combat.

It saw action in almost all theatres during the Second World War, with a large number of air forces, some of them on the Axis side. The RAF used it in France, Norway, Greece, the defence of Malta, and the brief Anglo-Iraqi War (in which the Royal Iraqi Air Force was similarly equipped). Other countries deploying the Gladiator included China against Japan, beginning in 1938; Finland (along with Swedish volunteers) against the Soviet Union in the Winter War and the Continuation War; and Norway, Belgium, and Greece resisting Axis invasion of their respective lands.

South African Marmaduke "Pat" Pattle was the top Gladiator ace with 15 victories over Italian aircraft.

Design and development

The Gladiator was developed from the Gloster Gauntlet as a private venture by Gloster. The aircraft was designed by H.P. Folland's team during 1933 as a Gauntlet derivative to Specification F.7/30. It had an enclosed, single-seat cockpit, cantilever landing gear and a two-blade fixed-pitch propeller driven by a Bristol Mercury air-cooled engine.

It first flew in September 1934. On 3 April 1935, the Royal Air Force commenced operational evaluations. Three months later, a first order was placed for 23 machines, followed by an order of 186 in September. The first version, the Mk I, was delivered from July 1936, becoming operational in January 1937. The Mk II soon followed, with a different engine and a metal propeller with three fixed blades instead of the former two-bladed wooden one. A modified Mk II, the Sea Gladiator, was developed for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA), with an arrestor hook to be engaged when landing on an aircraft carrier, catapult points, a strengthened frame and an under-belly fairing for a dinghy lifeboat.[1] [2] Of the 98 aircraft built as, or converted to, Sea Gladiators, 54 were still in service by the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939.[1]

It was to be the last British biplane fighter and their first fighter with an enclosed cockpit. The Gladiator had a top speed of around 257 mph (414 km/h) yet, even as it was introduced, the design was being eclipsed by new-generation monoplane fighters, such as the RAF's new Hurricane and Spitfire, and the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitt Bf 109.

A total of 747 airframes were built (483 RAF, 98 RN; 216 exported to 13 countries, some of them from the total allotted to the RAF[3][4]). Gladiators were sold to Belgium, China, Egypt, Finland, Free France, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Sweden.

Operational history

The Gladiator was largely replaced in front-line RAF service by the Hurricane and Spitfire at the outbreak of the Second World War, though two squadrons were used in the French and Norwegian campaigns. It would, however, see service in more peripheral campaigns during the early years of the Second World War. The classic biplane fighter was also one of Britain's biggest pre-war export successes, seeing service in many countries. The Gloster Gladiator performed reasonably well in limited Finnish service against Soviet fighters during the Winter War, but was found to be outclassed by German fighters in other theatres. Carrier-based Sea Gladiators were more successful, since their slower speed made them more suitable for carrier operations and they were less likely to be facing more modern fighter opposition. In the African theatres against Italian opposition, the Gladiator fared well.

The Finnish Winter War

During the Winter War, the Finnish Air Force obtained 30 Mk II fighters from the UK. Of the aircraft, which arrived between 18 January and 16 February 1940, 10 were donated to and 20 bought by the FAF.[5] The Finnish Gladiators served until 1945, but they were outclassed by the more modern Soviet fighters during the Continuation War. The aircraft was mostly used for reconnaissance from 1941 onwards. The Finnish Air Force obtained 45 aerial victories by 22 pilots with the aircraft type during the Winter War and one victory during the Continuation War. Twelve Gladiators were lost in combat during the Winter War and three during the Continuation War.[5] Two pilots became aces with this aircraft alone. These were Oiva Tuominen (6.5 victories with Gladiators) and Paavo Berg (five victories).

Besides the FAF Gladiators, the Swedish Voluntary Air Force, responsible for the air defence of northern Finland during the later part of the war, was also equipped with Gladiator fighters, designated as J8s (Mk Is) and J8As (Mk IIs) by the Swedes. The Flying Regiment F 19 arrived in Finnish Lapland on 10 January 1940, and remained there until the end of the hostilities. It fielded 12 Gladiator Mk II fighters, two of which were lost during the fighting,[6] and five Hawker Hart dive bombers, plus a Raab-Katzenstein RK-26 liaison aircraft and a Junkers F.13 transport aircraft. The aircraft belonged to and were crewed by the Swedish Air Force, but flew with Finnish nationality markings. The Swedish Gladiators scored eight aerial victories and destroyed a further four aircraft on the ground. (F 19's executive officer Captain Björn Bjuggren wrote in his memoirs that the tracer rounds of the Gladiator's machine guns would not ignite the gasoline when penetrating the fuel tanks of Soviet bombers. Better ammunition could therefore have enabled the Swedish pilots to score several more kills.)

The Norwegian Campaign

File:Norwegian Gloster Gladiator - Kristian Fredrik Schye.jpg
The sole Norwegian air-to-air Gloster Gladiator loss - Sergeant Pilot Schye's Gladiator 427 on 9 April 1940

The Norwegian Campaign saw both Norwegian and British Gladiators battling the Luftwaffe, with first the Norwegian Jagevingen fighting in the defence of Oslo on the first day of the German invasion and then British examples trying to provide fighter cover for the allied reinforcements sent to the assistance of the Norwegian government.


The Gladiator pilots of the Norwegian Jagevingen (fighter flight)[7] based at Fornebu Airport, having seven serviceable aircraft on the day,[8] managed to shoot down five German aircraft on 9 April 1940, the first day of the invasion of Norway: two Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters, two He 111 bombers and one Fallschirmjäger-laden Ju 52 transport. One Gladiator was shot down during the air battle, by the future Experte Helmut Lent, while two were destroyed on the ground, being strafed while refuelling and rearming at Fornebu airport. The remaining four operational fighters were ordered to land wherever they could away from their Fornebu base. The Gladiators scattered, landing on frozen lakes around Oslo and never returned to battle, being abandoned by their pilots and then wrecked by souvenir-hunting civilians.[9]

File:Gloster Gladiator fuselage gun.JPG
The fuselage .303 inch machine guns
File:Gloster Gladiator2.JPG
The .303 inch machine guns under each lower wing
Gloster Gladiator N5628. Damaged by German air attack while based on the frozen lake Lesjaskogsvatnet on 28 April 1940 and abandoned the same day. It eventually sank in May and was recovered in 1968 by a diving team from RAF Cranwell.

No. 263 Squadron

Gladiators were also used by No. 263 Squadron RAF during the remaining two months of the Norwegian Campaign. The squadron, having arrived with the carrier HMS Glorious 24 April, first operated from an improvised landing strip built by Norwegian volunteers on the frozen lake Lesjaskogsvatnet in Oppland in central southern Norway. After less than a week, all the squadron's aircraft were unserviceable and it evacuated back to the UK.

No.263 Squadron resumed its Gladiator operations in Norway when having re-equipped in Britain, the squadron returned to the north of Norway on 21 May flying from Bardufoss airfield near Narvik. At the Narvik front No. 263 was reinforced by No. 46 Squadron whose Hurricanes had arrived a few days later, using an airstrip at Skånland. Due to unsuitable ground at Skånland 46 Squadron moved so that both were operating from Bardufoss by 27 May. The squadrons had been ordered to defend the fleet anchorage at Skånland and the military base at Harstad on the island of Hinnøya, as well as the Narvik area after it was recaptured. The action was short but intense before the squadrons, due to the British government's response to the invasion of France were instructed on 2 June to prepare for evacuation.

By then, 263 Squadron had flown 249 sorties and claimed 26 enemy aircraft destroyed. No. 263 Squadron's ten surviving Gladiators were landed on HMS Glorious on 7 June. Glorious sailed for home but was intercepted by the German battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst. Despite the valiant defence put up by her two escorting destroyers, HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent, she was sunk and along with the aircraft from four squadrons. 263 Squadron lost its CO, S/Ldr John W. Donaldson, and F/Lt Alvin T. Williams along with eight other pilots.[10][11][12]

No Norwegian Army Air Service aircraft were able to evacuate westwards before the 10 June surrender of the mainland Norwegian forces. Only the aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service (one M.F.11 and four He 115s) had the range to fly all the way from their last bases in North Norway to the UK. Two Army Air Service Fokker C.V.Ds did however manage to escape eastwards to Finland before the surrender. Three M.F.11s also flew to Finland, landing on Lake Salmijärvi in Petsamo.[5]

Battle of Britain

The Gloster Gladiator was in operational service with No. 247 Squadron RAF, stationed in Robourgh, Devon during the Battle of Britain. Although no combat sorties took place at the height of the aerial battles, No. 247 Gladiators intercepted a He 111 in late October 1940, without result. No. 239 Squadron RAF using Gladiators in an army cooperation role and No. 804 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm outfitted with Sea Gladiators were also operational during the Battle of Britain. [13]

Mediterranean and Middle East theatres

In the Mediterranean Theatre during 1940-41, Gladiators saw combat with four Allied air forces: the RAF, Royal Australian Air Force, South African Air Force and Ellinikí Vasilikí Aeroporía (Royal Greek Air Force) squadrons. These achieved some success against the Italian Regia Aeronautica, which was mainly equipped with Fiat CR.32 and Fiat CR.42 biplanes, and against Luftwaffe bombers. They suffered heavier losses against Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200 monoplanes.[citation needed] The South African ace Marmaduke "Pat" Pattle (who served with the RAF), claimed 15 kills in Gladiators during the North African and Greek Campaigns, making him the highest-scoring RAF biplane ace of the Second World War.

The 1941 Anglo-Iraqi War was unique in the context of Gloster Gladiators in that the opposing air forces, being the RAF and Royal Iraqi Air Force, both used the Gladiator as their main fighter.[14]


File:ZZZ 003915 E Gladiator.jpg
Faith (serial number N5520), a Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk I, on the ground at an airfield in Malta, in about September 1940. The aircraft has been refitted with a Bristol Mercury engine and three-bladed Hamilton propeller salvaged from a Bristol Blenheim.

One of the best-known campaigns fought by Gladiators was the siege of Malta in 1940. The fighter force defending Malta was, for a period of ten days, a small force of British-operated Gladiators, the Hal Far Fighter Flight, giving rise to a myth that three aircraft, named Faith, Hope and Charity, formed the entire fighter cover of the island. The aircraft names came into being only after the battle was over.[15][16][17][18] In fact, more than three aircraft were operational, though not always at the same time; others were used for spare parts.[19]

A stock of 18 Sea Gladiators from 802 Naval Air Squadron had been deposited by HMS Glorious, in early 1940. Three were later shipped out to take part in the Norwegian Campaign, and another three were sent to Egypt. By April, Malta was in need of fighter protection and it was decided to form a flight of Gladiators at RAF Hal Far, to be composed of RAF and FAA personnel. Several Sea Gladiators were assembled and test-flown.[20]

By June, two of the Gladiators had crashed and two more were assembled.[21] Charity was shot down on 29 July 1940[22]. Its pilot, Flying Officer Peter Hartley, at 09.45, scrambled with fellow pilots F. F. Taylor and Flight Lieutenant William Joseph "Timber" Woods, to intercept a Savoia Marchetti S.79 "Sparviero", escorted by nine Fiat CR.42s from 23o Gruppo. A burst of fire from the guns of Sergente Tarantino’s aircraft caused the fuel tank of Hartley’s Gladiator (N5519) to explode, and he baled out suffering severe burns. In May 2009, the remains of his aircraft and others were the subject of an underwater search by NATO minesweepers.[23] Woods shot down the commander of the Italian formation, Capitano Antonio Chiodi of the 75a Squadriglia, his aircraft falling into the sea five miles east of Grand Harbour. Chiodi was subsequently awarded a posthumous Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare (Gold Medal of Valour - Italy’s highest military award). [24][25] Hope (N5531) was destroyed on the ground by enemy bombing in May 1941.[23] The fate of at least five more Gladiators that saw action over Malta is not as well documented.

North Africa

Template:Contradict In North Africa, Gladiators had to face Italian Fiat CR.42s. "The C.R.42 was superior to the Gloster Gladiator, but that was but a paltry success."[26]

The first aerial combat between the biplanes took place on 14 June over Amseat. Captain Franco Lucchini, of 10° Gruppo, with five victories in Spain, flying a CR.42 of the Quarto Stormo from Tobruk, shot down a Gladiator, the first of his 21 kills in World War II.[27] According to historian Håkan Gustavsson, it was a victory of Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, of 90a Squadriglia.[28] In either case, it was the first claim made against RAF in the desert war. In June, three Gladiators (together with 11 Blenheims and a Sunderland), were shot down. But on 3 July, four Falcos of 13° Gruppo were intercepted over Menastir by six Gladiators and were all destroyed, the same day two others didn't come back. [29] On the afternoon of 24 July, CR.42s and Gladiators clashed over Bardia. A formation of 11 CR.42s from 10° Gruppo, backed by six more from the 13° Gruppo attacked a British formation of nine Blenheims that was attacking Bardia, and was in turn reportedly attacked by 15 Gladiators. Tenente Giovanni Guiducci of the 90a Squadriglia claimed a Gladiator using 90 rounds of ammunition, while Capitano Aldo Lanfranco of the 84a Squadriglia became isolated and, attacked by a reported three enemy fighters, was shot down, baling out in the Sidi Azeiz area. Tenente Enzo Martissa, of the 91a Squadriglia, forced an enemy fighter to force-land, likely the Gladiator (N5775) flown by Sergeant Shaw from "B" Flight of 33 Squadron, that was forced to land east of Bug Bug with engine troubles probably caused by combat damage. The five Gladiators of 33 Squadron claimed four CR.42s destroyed. Pilot Officer Vernon Woodward (N5768) claimed one of the enemy aircraft shot down and a second as a probable. Sergeant Ronald Slater (N5783) claimed a second CR.42 destroyed and Pilot Officer Alfred Costello (N5776) claimed a third. One more CR.42 was claimed by the other pilots.[30] In the big aerial combat of 4 August 1940, the Fiat biplanes from 160ª Squadriglia of capitano Duilio Fanali intercepted four Gladiators commanded by Marmaduke "Pat" Pattle (eventually to be one of the top score Allied aces with approximately 50 claims), that were attacking some Breda Ba.65 (one of them piloted by Adriano Visconti, who ended the war with 26 air victories) that were strafing British armoured vehicles. Captain Fanali shot down the Gladiator (K7908) of Sergeant Kenneth George Russell (RAF no. 526687), who was killed. His wingman, maresciallo Romolo Cantelli, downed Flying Officer Peter Wykeham-Barnes (who baled out and was later an ace with 14 claims) and Pilot Officer Johnny Lancaster.[31] Wykeham Barnes claimed a Breda 65, while Pattle claimed a Ba 65 and, during a running fight, a C.R. 42.[32]

Eastern Africa

In Eastern Africa the Gladiators faced the Italian biplane fighters: Fiat CR.32s and CR.42s. The latter, more modern than the Gladiator, was a formidable opponent. On 6 November 1940, in the first hour of the British offensive against Ethiopia, the Fiat CR.42 fighters of the high-scoring 412a Squadriglia led by Capt. Antonio Raffi shot down five Gloster Gladiators without losses. [33] On 6 June 1941 Regia Aeronautica had only two serviceable aircraft left: the CR.32 of Maresciallo Giardinà of 410a Squadriglia and the CR.42 of Tenente Ildebrando Malavolti of 413a Squadriglia. The Gladiator's last air combat with an Italian fighter was on 24 October 1941, with the CR.42 of Ten. Malavolti (or, according to historian Håkan Gustavsson, sottotenente Malavolta). The Italian pilot took off to strafe British airfields at Dabat and Adi Arcai. According to the Italian historian Nico Sgarlato, the CR.42 was intercepted by three Gladiators and managed to shoot down two of them, but was then itself shot down and the pilot killed.[34] Other authors state that Malavolti managed only to fire on the two Gladiators before being shot down.[35]

According to Gustavsson, South African Air Force pilot (no. 47484V) Lieutenant Lancelot Charles Henry "Paddy" Hope, at Dabat airfield, scrambled to intercept the CR.42 (MM7117). Diving on it, he opened fire at 300 yards. Although the Italian pilot took violent evasive action, Hope continued to follow, closing to only 20 yards and firing as the Fiat tried to dive away. There was a brief flicker of flame and the last Italian aircraft to be shot down over East Africa spun into the ground and burst into flames near Ambazzo. Next day, the wreckage was found, the dead pilot still in the cockpit. Hope dropped a message on the Italian positions at Ambazzo: "Tribute to the pilot of the Fiat. He was a brave man. South African Air Force." But operational record books of the Commonwealth units in the area state that they didn’t suffer any losses on this date. The dedication of the posthumous Medaglia d’oro al valor militare states that Malavolti shot down a Gladiator and forced another one to crash land, but was himself shot down by the third Gladiator.[36]

This was the last air-to-air victory in the East African campaign. [37]


Tension had been building between Greece and Italy since 7 April 1939, when Italian troops occupied Albania. On 27 October 1940, Italy sent an ultimatum to Greece, which was rejected, and the following morning, Italian troops invaded Greece, initiating the Greco-Italian War.

Britain sent help in the form of No. 80 Squadron RAF, elements of which arrived at Trikkala by 19 November. That same day the Gladiator debut came in the form of a surprise, intercepting a section of five Italian CR.42s on Coritza, only one come back. On 27 November, seven Gladiators attacked three Falcos, shooting down the lead aircraft, piloted by Com. Masfaldi, commanding the 364a Squadriglia. On 28 November, the commander of 365a Squadriglia, Com. Graffer was shot down during a combat where seven aircraft were downed, four of them British. [29] On 3 December, the Gladiators were reinforced with elements from No. 112 Squadron RAF. The following day, a combat between 20 Gladiators and ten CR.42s, resulted in five downed, two of them Italians.[29] After a break of two weeks, No. 80 Sqn returned to operations on 19 December 1940. On 21 December, 20 Gladiators intercepted 15 CR.42 Falcos, shooting down two with nine losses [38], and over the next few days, several groups of Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 and Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 bombers were also encountered, and victories claimed.

The complete No. 112 Sqn moved to Eleusis by the end of January 1941, and by the end of February that year, had received No 80 Sqn’s Gladiators, after the latter unit had converted to Hawker Hurricanes. On 5 April, German forces invaded Greece and quickly established air superiority. As the Allied troops retreated, Gladiators covered them, before flying to Crete during the last week of April. There No 112 Sqn recorded a few claims over twin-engined aircraft, before being evacuated to Egypt during the Battle of Crete.[39]

Anglo-Iraqi War

The Royal Iraqi Air Force (RoIAF) had, since Iraq was granted independence in 1932, been trained and equipped by the British.[40] One result of this was the dominance of British-built aircraft in the RoIAF inventory. In 1941, the sole RoIAF single-purpose fighter squadron, No. 4 Squadron consisted of seven operational Gloster Gladiators, at Rashid Air Base.[41]

After a pre-emptive RAF attack from RAF Habbaniya against blockading Iraqi forces Iraqi Gladiators took part in attacks on the British air base, strafing it ineffectively on 2 May.[42] Although much of the RoIAF was destroyed in the air or on the ground in the following days the Iraqi Gladiators kept flying until the end of the war, carrying out strafing attacks on A Company of 1 Battalion The Essex Regiment on the outskirts of Baghdad on 30 May.[43]

Before the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq the 4th Service Training School at RAF Habbaniya operated three old Gladiators as officers' runabouts. With the increased tension the base was reinforced with another six Gladiators on 19 April, flying in from Egypt.[44] During the early part of the war the nine Gladiators flew numerous sorties against air and ground targets, taking off from the base' polo field.[45] The Gladiator force in Iraq was further reinforced when, on 11 May, another five aircraft arrived, this time from 94 Squadron in Ismaïlia on the Suez Canal.[46]
A last resupply of Gladiators came on 17 May in the form of four more 94 Squadron machines.[47]

During the fighting the sole Gladiator-on-Gladiator kill occurred on 5 May, when Plt. Off. Watson of the Fighter Flight shot down an Iraqi Gladiator over Baqubah during a bomber escort mission. The Iraqi Gladiators' only claim during the war was a Vickers Wellington bomber shared with ground fire on 4 May.[48]

Immediately after launching his coup against king Faisal II in early April 1941 prime minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani approached Germany and Italy for help in repelling any British counter-measures. In response to this the Germans assembled a Luftwaffe task force under Iraqi colours called Fliegerführer Irak ("Flyer Command Iraq") which from 14 May operated out of Mosul.[49] Before this force collapsed due to lack of supplies, replacements, quality fuel and aggressive RAF attacks two Gladiators fought a pair of Me 110s over Rashid Airfield at Baghdad on 17 May. Both German machines were swiftly shot down.[47]

The Iraqis continued to use Gladiators until 1949 for ground attack missions against the Kurds.[citation needed]


The Gloster Gladiator had its combat début on 24 February 1938, when Chinese Gladiators downed two Japanese A5M Claude navy fighters in the Nanking area.[50] Chinese Gladiators scored several more victories over Japanese aircraft between 1938-1940 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In China Gladiators were used extensively before the start of 1940 by the 28th, 29th and 32nd Squadrons of the 3rd Group. The Chinese pilots considered the Gladiator an excellent fighter in its class. In comparison to its major opponents of the time, such as the Mitsubishi A5M, the Gladiator was only a little slower and superior in all other aspects such as turning rate, etc. However, when newer Japanese aircraft such as the Mitsubishi A6M entered the battles, the Gladiators' days were numbered. American born Chinese pilots, John "Buffalo" Wong and Arthur Chin became the first Gladiator flying ace and first American fighter ace of the Second World War respectively, and were among a group of 15 Chinese Americans whom formed the first and original group of American volunteer combat aviators countering the Japanese imperial aggressions in China.[51]

As late as mid-1941 the RAF Chief-of-Air Staff offered 21 Gloster Gladiators gathered from various meteorological and communications flights in the Middle East, as well as five from a Free French unit, to AOC Singapore in order to strengthen the colony's defences against the emerging Japanese threat. The offer was turned down by AOC Singapore and later reinforcements consisted of Hawker Hurricanes.[52]

Operations elsewhere

Belgian Gladiators suffered heavy losses to the Germans in 1940, with all 15 operational aircraft lost,[53][54] and themselves managing only to damage two German aircraft.[55]

The Irish Air Corps was supplied with four Gladiators on 9 March 1939. On 29 December 1940, two Irish Gladiators were scrambled from Baldonnell to intercept a German Ju 88 flying over Dublin on a photographic reconnaissance mission, but were unable to make contact with the Luftwaffe aircraft.[56] Although unable to intercept any intruding aircraft, the Irish Gladiators shot down several British barrage balloons that had broken from their moorings.[57] For a short time in 1940 an order was given to Irish fighter pilots to use their aircraft to block the runways of airfields. They were then to use rifles and shoot at any invaders.[58] Irish Gladiators also overflew the site of the sinking of the liner SS Athenia in 1939 and offered the help of the Irish military. The flight was fired upon by Royal Navy ships in attendance, consequently, the Irish Gladiators withdrew without pursuing the matter further.[citation needed]

After becoming obsolete RAF Gladiators carried out non-combat tasks such as meteorological work.[59]


Gladiator I
Version powered by a single 840 hp (627 kW) Bristol Mercury IX air-cooled radial piston engine. The aircraft was designated J 8 in Swedish Air Force service. Delivered 1937-38, 378 built.
Gladiator II
Version powered by a single Bristol Mercury VIIIA air-cooled radial piston engine. The aircraft was designated J 8A in Swedish Air Force service, 270 built.
Sea Gladiator Interim
Single-seat fighter biplane for the Royal Navy, 38 built. Fitted with arrestor hooks. Serial numbers: N2265 - N2302.
Sea Gladiator
Single-seat fighter biplane for the Royal Navy, 60 built. Fitted with arrestor hooks and provision for dinghy stowage. Serial numbers: N5500 - N5549 and N5565 - N5574.


File:Gloster Gladiator 1.jpg
Gladiator in pre-Second World War RNoAF colours


Gladiators have been preserved at the Shuttleworth Collection, Fighter Collection at Duxford, Gloucestershire Aviation Collection (in Bedfordshire, UK), the National War Museum, Malta) [60] and the RAF Museum (in Hendon and Cosford, UK). One Swedish Gladiator Mk I is preserved in Winter War markings at the Swedish Air Force Museum in Malmen, just outside of Linköping, Sweden.


The fuselage of the only surviving Gladiator from the Hal Far Fighter Flight (N5520), later called Faith, was presented to the people of Malta in 1943. The fuselage remains are displayed in the War Museum at Fort St Elmo, Valletta.[60] Research on the airframe has indicated that it incorporates parts of at least one other Gladiator. [61] Malta's Aviation Museum has been trying since at least 2005 to obtain possession of the Gladiator remains from the War Museum which, it claimed, was lacking sufficient security for valuable heritage exhibits. In its Air Battle of Malta Memorial Hangar at Ta' Qali, the Aviation Museum had demonstrated superior expertise in aircraft restoration and had managed to acquire "a set of wings and other parts for the Gladiator".[62] This request was reinforced in November 2008 by a newspaper article which stated "the aircraft is in a very bad state and now approaching the point of no repair".[60]



Specifications (Gloster Gladiator Mk I)

Template:Aircraft specification

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

See also


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  2. Paolo Matricardi. Aerei Militari: Caccie e Ricognitori. Milano: Mondadori Electa, 2006
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  21. Crawford 2002, pp. 59–66.
  22. or on 31 July, according to the historian Håkan Gustavsson
  23. 23.0 23.1 Underwater search for Gloster Gladiator "Charity" Malta Aviation Museum News & Events, 20 May 2009
  24. The returning Italian pilots claimed that they had seen five Gladiators and two of them were claimed shot down, one by Tarantino and one by Capitano Luigi Filippi. Two more Gladiators were attacked by Tenente Mario Rigatti.
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  27. Jackson 1989
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 de Marchi 1994
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  34. Sgarlato 2005
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  40. Lyman 2006, p. 25.
  41. Lyman 2006, p. 26.
  42. Lyman 2006, p. 44.
  43. Lyman 2006, p. 84.
  44. Lyman 2006, pp. 16, 22.
  45. Lyman 2006, p. 40.
  46. Lyman 2006, p. 52.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Lyman 2006, p. 68.
  48. Thomas 2002, p. 80.
  49. Lyman 2006, p. 64.
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  53. Crawford 2002, pp. 70–74.
  54. Spencer 2003, pp. 31–32.
  55. Thomas 2002, pp. 18, 94.
  56. See Kennedy 2008, p. 180.
  57. Crawford, Alex. "Irish Air Corps Gladiators." Retrieved: 12 April 2009.
  58. Fodor 1982, p. 134.
  59. Gustavsson, Håkan. "Gloster Gladiator in Meteorological Flights service." Håkans Aviation page. Retrieved: 11 April 2009.
  60. 60.0 60.1 60.2 Mizzi, J.A. "Restoration: Saving the Gloster Sea-Gladiator Faith." Times of, 27 November 2008. Retrieved: 23 May 2009.
  61. Crawford 2002, pp. 122–123.
  62. Polidano R (Museum Director) Aviation Museum wants Gladiator from War Museum Malta Aviation Museum News & Events, 3 April 2005
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