The Gloster Gladiator was developed from the Gloster Gauntlet by H.P. Folland. It was to be designed to have a top speed of at least 250 mph and have an armament of four machine guns to meet the requirements of the RAF.
The prototype, designated SS.37, had single bay wings and the main undercarriage had internally sprung wheels. SS.37 had its first flight on the 12th of September 1934 and was powered by a Bristol Mercury VIS engine producing 530 hp.
A more powerful Mercury VIS2 engine producing 648 hp was put into the prototype and it was fitted with two syncronised Vickers 0.303" machine guns in the fuselage, two Lewis 0.303" machine guns, one under each lower wing, and it reached a speed of 242 mph.
A further improved version of the prototype fighter was fitted with a Mercury IX engine producing 830 hp and a fully enclosed cockpit.
After successful operational trials by the RAF an order was placed for 23 aircraft in July and a further 180 in September, with the first Mk.I's being delivered from July 1936 and becoming operational in January 1937.
The Gloster Gladiator Mk.II was developed with a slightly more powerful Mercury engine producing 840 hp, with a three bladed metal propeller instead of the two bladed wooden one reaching a top speed of 257 mph.
The Sea Gladiator was modified from the Mk.II and was developed for the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). It had an arrester hook fitted, catapault points, strengthened fuselage and a fairing for the dinghy kept under the belly of the aircraft.
The Gloster Gladiator was the last British Bi-plane fighter produced and the first fighter with a fully enclosed cockpit.
A new design of mono planes such as the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire were being developed in anticipation of WWII and the Gladiator was largely replaced by these aircraft in front line service at the outbreak of war.
|Specifications (Mk.I): -|
|Length:||27ft 5in (8.36m)|
|Wingspan:||32ft 3in (9.83m)|
|Height:||11ft 7in (3.53m)|
|Empty Weight:||3,444lb (1562kg)|
|Max. Weight:||4,864lb (2206kg)|
|Engine:||Bristol Mercury IX engine producing 830 hp.|
|Max. Speed:||257mph (414km/h)|
|Range:||440 miles (708km)|
|Machine Guns:||2 x 0.303" Vickers (sync.)|
|2 x 0.303" Lewis|
Powered by a Bristol Mercury IX radial engine producing 830 hp.
Powered by a Bristol Mercury VIIIA(S) radial engine producing 840 hp.
Single seat fighter for the Royal Navy modified to include an arrester hook, dinghy fairing, and catapult points for use on carriers.
'G-AMRK'. serial number L8032, was the last Gladiator MK.I built in 1937 and finally assembled in 1938.
Gloster Gladiator 'G-AMRK' was presented to the Shuttleworth Collection on the 7th November 1960 for safe keeping. In 2007 it had its livery changed to K7985 of 73 Squadron RAF which was flown by WW2 Ace Cobber Kain.
The Gloster Gladiator 'G-AMRK' is part of the Shuttleworth Collection, based at Old Warden, where it can be seen today.