>> Home >> Magazine >> This page

>> 500+ other articles are available in our archive

 

Gloster Gladiator in Detail

n Photos by Magnus Fridsell
Text by Martin Waligorski


Britain's last Biplane Fighter

The Gloster Gladiator was the RAF's last biplane fighter. Gloster designed the prototype as a private venture S.S.37 , a successor to the Gauntlet then in RAF service.

In July 1935 the Gladiator was ordered for the RAF to Spec. 14/35, the initial contracts being for 23 fighters. A further 186 were ordered in September 1935 and production continued until 1940.

By the outbreak of war, only a few first-line RAF squadron were still flying the type. Nevertheless, no. 607 and 615 Squadrons were sent to fight in France, with poor results. By the time of Battle of Britain, only 247 Squadron at Roborough still used Gladiators for the defence of Plymouth dockyards. By the end of 1940, Gladiators were out of front-line service with the Fighter Command.

Overseas was a different story. For many years of the hostilities, Gladiators were  still the best fighter type available to RAF in the Mediterranean theatre, and also at sea as carrier-borne fighter.

The Gladiator was also one of Britains biggest export successes before the war, seeing service in many other countries.

Gladiators in Sweden

In 1936 Swedish Ministry of Defence decided to augment the air force with one new fighter and four new bomber wings. The fighter wing, F8 at Barkaby,  was assigned for the defence of the Stockholm area. Swedish AF found the Gloster Gladiator best suited for the role. Enough planes were purchased from Gloster to equip two squadrons in the wing. The third should get license-manufactured planes.

The type received the Swedish designation J8 (J stands for Jaktplan, i.e. fighter). The first J8s were powered by Bristol Mercury VI engine with 645 hp, but the successive version (J8A) were upgraded with Mercury VIII with 840 hp.

Swedish pilots received their Gladiators with mixed feelings. The planes where factory-new but already obsolete. The biplane configuration meant good manoeuvrability but the top speed was not good enough  compared with German fighters of the day. Consequently, Gladiator were soon relegated to training duties.

The J8 depict here is has been preserved in the Swedish Airforce Museum. The aircraft carries Finnish national markings - in memory of the voluntary Swedish Airforce Unit, F19, in the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939-1940.

Gloster Gladiator in detail
 


wpe4.jpg (29237 bytes)

J8 Gladiator is displayed at the permanent exhibition of the Swedish Air Force museum in Linköping. The aircraft is part of a diorama showing a field maintenance in the harsh condition of Finnish winter of 1939/1940.

Notable features of the scene are the aircraft's skis and the engine heater between the undercarriage legs.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 


wpe5.jpg (29644 bytes)

A view from the back reveals the aircraft's dark green-and-silver camouflage, typical of F.19 and the Winter War.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 

wpe7.jpg (16681 bytes)

Ski undercarriage was a feature widely used in on Gladiators serving in Scandinavia. The main legs featured a streamlined skis of Gloster design. Even the tail wheel (below) was replaced by a short ski.

wpe8.jpg (10167 bytes)

 


wpe9.jpg (21498 bytes)

This view of the starboard fuselage side reveals a   machine gun arrangement and a prominent cooler mounted on top of the fuselage.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 

wpeA.jpg (12221 bytes)

Two of the fighter's four guns are mounted beneath the lower wing in streamlined nacelles.


Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 


wpeC.jpg (22315 bytes)

The cockpit looks inviting... Of note is the opened access hatch.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 

wpeD.jpg (36430 bytes)

Entering the cockpit, here's a pilot seat...

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 

wpeE.jpg (41081 bytes)

...and "The Office", as it would appear to the pilot himself. The cockpit of this particular aircraft is believed to be in original condition, minus some instruments.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 


wpeF.jpg (8147 bytes) wpe10.jpg (13968 bytes)

Windscreen and, for those of you actually detailing their models :-), a glimpse of the area behind the pilot's seat.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

 

wpe11.jpg (11125 bytes)

We conclude our walkaround by this view of the area so typical of all fabric aircraft of the era: exposed actuating mechanisms for rudder and elevator.

Photo: Magnus Fridsell

n


This page: 
Has been last updated:
The URL of the page is:
Downloaded at:


©  Copyright 1997-2006 by IPMS Stockholm and the Community Members. All Rights Reserved.
The layout and graphics of this site, HTML and program code are © Copyright 1997-2006 Martin Waligorski. Used by permission.

Terms of use: This site is an interactive community of enthusiasts interested in the art of scale modelling of aircraft, armor, figures, spacecraft and similar subjetcs. All material within this site is protected under copyright, and may only be reproduced for personal use. You must  contact the Author(s) and/or Editor for permission to use any material on this site for any purpose other than private use.