Gloster Gladiator, Old Warden 2007 ©Nigel Key
12 September 1934.
The Gloster Gladiator was developed from the Gloster Gauntlet by Henry Phillip 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 synchronised 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.
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 Gloster Gladiator was produced from 1936, with over 700 built.
Bristol Mercury IX engine, producing 840 hp.
4 x 0.303” machine guns.
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 Sea Gladiator was modified from the Mk II and was developed for the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). It had an arrester hook fitted, catapult 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.
|Crew - 1|
|Wing Type - Bi-plane|
|Length - 27ft 5in (8.36m)|
|Wingspan - 32ft 3in (9.83m)|
|Height - 10ft 4in (3.15m)|
|Empty Weight - 3,450lb (1,565kg)|
|Max. Weight - 4,750lb (2,155kg)|
|Max. Speed - 253 mph (407 km/h)|
|Range - 428 miles (689 km)|