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Gloster Gladiator - British Fighter Plane

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Gloster Gladiator - British WWII fighter plane

Gloster Gladiator

The Gloster Gladiator was the first British fighter with an enclosed cockpit, and the last British bi-plane fighter accepted for service into the RAF. Obsolete by the outbreak of World War II, nevertheless Gladiators fought with some success on several fronts. The Finnish air force claimed 45 victories over Russian aircraft in the Winter War for 15 Gladiator losses. The Norwegians claimed 5 victories over the Luftwaffe for 3 combat losses and four Gladiators abandoned for lack of a safe airfield. RAF Gladiators fighting in Norway claimed 26 enemy aircraft destroyed, but all 10 remaining Gladiators were destroyed on board the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious when the ship was caught and sunk by the German battle cruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.  

The initial defense of the island of Malta from Italian attack in June of 1940 by the three Gladiators named Faith, Hope and Charity is legendary, and partially mythical. There were 12 Gladiators in storage on Malta at the time of the attack, and the defenders eventually consumed all 12 aircraft either as replacements or as parts, in the effort to keep four Gladiators flying against the Italians on any given day. Gloster Gladiators also flew against Italian CR.32s and CR.42s in North Africa, East Africa and Greece. South African Marmaduke Pattle was the top Gladiator ace with 15 victories.  747 Gloster Gladiators were built. Photo taken by an employee of the British government prior to 1956.



Gladiator (Gloster)

Photo: Royal Air Force


* Gloster Gladiator facts

Category Fighter
Manufacturer Gloster Aircraft Company, Ltd.
Introduced 1937
Used in WW II by

Royal Air Force
Fleet Air Arm
Chinese Nationalist Air Force
Finnish Air Force
Norwegian Army Air Service
Number built 747
Cruising speed 212 mph
Max. speed 257 mph
Altitude 33,500 feet service ceiling
Range 444 miles
* Numbers are approximate