Gloster Gladiator Mk II ( J8A )


Model review

Roden 1/48 Gladiator Mk II With Skis (401)

Box cover and painting guide

Kit
This is the third kit of the Gloster Gladiator in 1/48 scale that Roden has announced and it is the most complete of them all. The kit has new boxing, new decal sheet and a new sprue compared to the previous Sea Gladiator kit. The new sprue includes parts for ski undercarriage which was used in Finnish and Swedish Gladiators. The decal sheet contains markings for two British planes as well as for two Finnish Gladiators and for two Swedish voluntery group F19's planes during the Winter war. The decal sheet contains also interesting skull markings for the "Yellow F". They were used only a short time and were painted over the Finnish insignias before the plane was transferred from Finland to Sweden after the Winter war. This kit contains also all sprues of the previous kits so parts for making a Sea Gladiator or a Gladiator Mk I are also included in the box.

The kit is moulded in cream coloured fairly soft plastic. Overview of the kit is clean and small parts are extremely sharply moulded. Gladiator's fabric covered rear fuselage and wings are nicely captured in plastic. The kit has finely engraved surface details. Bigger parts are a little rough but they are easy to fix with sandpaper anyway. According to many sources this kit is accurate in scale and shape. German modelling magazine "Kit Flugzeug-Modell" chose Roden's Gladiator Mk I as model of the year 2003 so I didn't bother to measure it more but instead built it almoust out of the box.

I didn't have to think a long time which Gladiator and from what unit to choose as a subject of my modelling. I have always admired the Swedish F19 volunteer squadron's brave pilots and their Gladiators in their famous silver/olive green camouflage. I can still remember how I many years ago as a young boy looked pictures of the F19's Gladiators and read stories about their brave fighting against the offensive Russian forces when they defended the Northern Finland during the Winter War from a Finnish aviation history magazine "Suomen Siivet". My model depicts F19's plane n:o 284 "Yellow F" which achieved two kills during the Winter War. The first kill was recorded to fänrik Ian Iacobi (take a look at history section) and the second kill to fänrik Per-Johan Salwénille.


Construction
I started building by sanding off small roughness from wings and fuselage. During the sanding process I noticed a small sink mark on both sides of the fuselage. I filled them with putty and sanded them smooth. Next came the cocpit which was quite well detailed. The biggest shortcoming was the pilot's seat which was far too small. I abandoned it and made a new and better one from a part I found from my spares box. Fuselage behind the pilot's seat has no detailing at all. According to instructions there should be only a radio. According to photographs of the Swedish machines the compartment behind pilot's seat was covered and there was a base for the Sutton-harness alongside they were led inside to the rear fuselage. Also a partition wall behind the pilot's seat is missing from the kit. Because these shortages can easily be seen in a comleted model they are worth of fixing. The best way to make the things clear is watch the pictures at the bottom of this page or the pictures in IPMS Stockholm webpage.

Roden's painting guide erroneously gives wrong colors to the cocpit of Swedish Gladiators. The main color of the cocpit is British Interior Green. The best source of information when making cocpit of a Swedish Gladiator is photos at IPMS Stockholm web page. The cocpit of the museum plane is believed to be in original colors while extorior of the plane is re-painted wrongly in Winter war scheme. The kits instrument panel is right for Finnish and British planes which had the center section of the panel further front than the sides. Instrument panel of the Swedish J8A Gladiators was flat and the lay-out of instruments differed from British and Finnish planes. Color of the panel was dark wood and it was made of plywood or bakelite. Finnish and British planes had black instrument panels. Because the instrument panel is situated deep in the fuselage and is hard to see I decided to use the kit's part, only painted it in proper color. The pre-painted seat-belts came from Eduard and looks really good and are worth of every penny they cost.

When the cocpit was completed I glued the fuselage halfs together. It was easier said than done because there was no alignment tabs on the fuselage halfs. I had to glue small styrene strips to the edge of the other fuselage half to get proper alignment when gluing the parts together. The fuselage halfs of my kit were also little twisted and I had to glue them together with clamps during several glueing sessions.

Next I drilled holes for rigging to the lower wings, to horizontal stabilizers and to fuselage. Then I glued the lower wings and horizontal stabilizers to the fuselage. When glue had dried I glued elevators, rudder and landing gear legs to their places. (Note! It's now easy to correct lower parts of the landing gear legs at this stage, take a look at the bottom of this page). At this stage I also glued ailerons to their places. Fit of the parts was good and putty was needed only for the lower seams of the horizontal stabilators and for the landing gear legs joints on the fuselage. Part of the holes I had drilled for riggings were left under attachment points of the wing struts and I had to drill new holes also to the bases of the wing struts so I could later thread the rigging lines through the wings. Next I glued outer wing struts to the lower wings. The following day I glued bottom ends of inner struts to the fuselage after I had shortened them first so they fit to their places. Swedish and Finnish Gladiators had only one pitot-tube on the first wing strut of the left wing so the other one has to be removed if you are making a Swedish or a Finnish plane. Also the wing gun fairings of the Swedish Gladiators differed from the kit parts. They didn't have shell ejector holes on the sides of the fairing but underneath instead so the holes on the sides have to be deleted.

The kit includes excellent Bristol Mercury VIII engine which is perhaps the most perfect injection moulded engine I've ever seen in any model kit. Moulding quality of the engine is incredible accurate and sharp. Upper ends of the push rod coverings were molded square although their front face should be streamlined. There are 18 small exhaust pipes (two/cylinder) which are to be fastened to the cylinder heads. Glueing them to the cylinder heads to a proper position took much time, accuracy and good nerves. If you succeed in glueing them properly the heads of the exhaust pipes should take their places inside the Naca ring without any gaps and it is easy to fasten them to Naca ring with CA glue and finish the joint with paint. I added also to my model three missing bearing rods which supported the cowling to the engine. The base engine, push rods, push rod coverings and intake pipes behind the cyliders were painted in gloss black. The cylinders were painted with dark metal color (gun metal+black) and the cylinder heads with aluminium. Cowling's inside is painted with XtraColors duraluminium. The kit offers two kind of oil coolers which comes under the engine cowling. The wider one fits perfectly at the gap under the cowling but the narrower one for the Swedish Gladiator is too narrow and you can't install as it is along the instructions. I filled the gap under the cowling with styrene sheet and then glued the oil cooler above it after I had first shortened it to a proper lenght. Additionally the oil cooler is partly wrong shaped and it had to reshape more massive with putty.

The back side of the propeller blades has incorrect profile at the base of the propeller. The profile should be similar to the front side of the propeller. This can be easily corrected with a round file and sandpaper. And next a few words about the colors of the propellers of the Swedish Gladiators. Kit's painting guide advises that the propeller is "natural wood". According to my references Gladiators two-bladed propellers were painted and the color was from medium gray to dark grey or black. The British Gladiators wooden-propellers were painted in medium gray, the tone was near British Medium Sea Gray. Swedish Gladiators propellers were probable painted at the same way. I painted my model's propeller with a little darker gray (FS 16176) and the backside of the propeller with black like in the Swedish museum plane.

Rigging of the Gladiator was made of the so called RAF-wires which were "flat" and about twice as wide as they were thick. Some modellers have used succesfully Evergreen strips or PE rigging wires but I decided to rig my model by using 0,12 mm monofilament thread instead. It's much easier and safer to make rigging with it at least for me. Color of the rigging wires is silver.

I used the kit's windscreen and the rear part of the canopy but the sliding middle section was replaced with Falcon's vacformed part. I also brushed the canopy, after I washed it with Fairy, with Johnsson's Future (Johnsonin Kirkas Muovivaha in Finnish) to make the transparent parts clearer and to protect them against the fumes of syanoacrylate glue. I have also dipped the parts in Future with a bad success because of flowing traces. But with a brush I can spread the Future much thinner layer and the final result will more often be successful.


Painting and decals
The kit's painting guide for F19's plane n:o 284, the "Yellow F" is not correct. Correct painting guide can be found in the book "SIH 12 Englantilaiset hävittäjät" (Finnish airforce history n:o 12, British Fighters). There can be found Klaus Niska's excellent drawings of the "Yellow F" which I used as a guide when painting my model. In the book there is a lot of good photos of Finnish and F19's Gladiators. More good quality photos of Finnish and Swedish F19's Gladiators can be found in the book "SIH 25 Hurricane&Gladiator".

Upper surface camouflage is painted using paper masks. I zoomed the Gladiator painting guide in the book "SIH 12" to proper scale and then cut masks out of it. Masks were fastened using small tape chips underside of them. Paints I used were as follow: Swedish Olive Green is LifeColor's UA 054 (FS 34096) and Swedish Light Blue Grey for undersides is LifeColor's UA 117 (FS 36329) and aluminium is XtraColor's X501 Silver.

According to the pictures of Gladiators of F19 and Finnish air force during the Winter war the forepart covers of the skis were darker than the higher middle section which probably was painted silver or aluminium. The color of the forepart covers could have been Swedish air force light bluegray, the same color which was used on undersides. My second gues is that the covers might have been darker metal alloy than the other parts of the skis. I ended up to the latter conclusion and painted the covers with dark metallic grey (a color mix of Hu153 + XtraColor Silver, mixing ratio was 1/1). There is also the third option, the forepart covers of the skis could have been something else color too but who knows? The forepart covers of the skis were made of sections which had seams between them. The seams were sealed with elastic filling material which allowed bending. The seams can be seen as dark lines on the ski covers. The rear part of the skis were dark reddish brown (painted wood?) and the rear tips were silver.

Kit's decal sheet contains two marking options for the "Yellow F" during different periods. Unfortunately the blue color of Finnish airforce swastika is too light. I replaced the kit decals with swastikas from Gal decal's 1/72 swastika sheet. The diameter of the fuselage markings in 1/48 scale is 15,5 mm and the hight of the wing markings without the white bottom roundel is 20 mm. The Finnish national markings were painted without white roundels onto the undersides of the wings of F19's Gladiators so the white backround have to be cut off. There are also interesting skull markings for the "Yellow F" which were painted over the Finnish markings before transfer flight back to Sweden. When I was assembling the " F " to the rudder it broke in pieces so I painted the letter markings with masks to the rudder. I noticed that the decal was very thin and translucent so anyhow it is better to paint the letter markings.

Summary
This model took many building hours and was quite laborious at least for me who normally builds monoplane fighter models. The kit includes also a lot of small parts and needs careful assemble planning so it's not for beginners. In the other hand a persistent and diligent builder will get nice looking final result.





History
Gloster Gladiator was the last of the long line of biplane fighters designed by the Gloster Aircraft Company. It came in service during the time when fast monoplane fighters were overriding the biplane era. Gladiator was the last biplane fighter of the Royal Air Force although it wasn't the last of its kind in the world. Italian Fiat CR.42 was in production still in 1943 and the production of the Polikarpov I-153 Chaika was ended in 1940 in Soviet Union.

As a fighter Gladiator was slow but sake of low wing loading it was extremely agile. Visibility from cocpit was good compared to other biplanes. Gladiator could turn tighter than the Polikarpov I-153 Chaika. Agility was the only advantage of the plane. Gladiator did'nt have pilot's armor or self-sealing fuel tanks and it caught fire easily. The four light machine gun armament that Gladiator had was first thought to be sufficient but later too weak.

When Gloster lost the fighter competition to Bristol Bulldog in 1927 it continued developing it's biplane with it's own money. Gloster's persistence was awarded in 1933 when Gloster Gauntlet I was chosen as service plane for the Royal Air Force. In the beginning of 1937 the RAF had totally 14 Gauntlet squadrons. Totally 24 Gloster Gauntlet I and 204 Gauntlet II was manufactured. Many years Gauntlet was the fastest fighter of the Royal Air Force reaching top speed of 362 km/h at altitude of 4800 meters.

Much before the first serial Gauntlet was delivered, S.S.37 which was a development of the Gauntlet, flew it's maiden flight on 12 September 1934. The S.S.37 was Gloster's private venture and it was designed to meet the Air Ministry's specification F.7/30 which put the limits to performance of aircrafts of the time. Four machine guns and the speed of 402 km/h was too much for the engines and aerodynamics of bi-planes. Many other competing aircraft companies also tried to fulfill the demands of the specification. The chief designer of Gloster Aircraft Company, Henry P. Folland, came to a situation where he ended up to offer a plane to the specification F.7/30 almost by chance. When he was planning how to improve the Gauntlet in 1933 he became to a conclusion that reducing wing struts and changing the landing gear to more simple one strut type the new 700 hp Mercury ME.30 could possibly accelerate the Gauntlet to the required speed. To reduce time and to save money the S.S.37 prototype was modified from Gauntlet by shifting the wings and the landing gear and adding a large oil cooler to the right side of the fuselage. Also a streamlined headrest was added to the fuselage decking behind the cockpit. Vickers machine guns and landing flaps were also added to lower wings.

Gladiator I
The originally over asking specification F.7/30 expired at the same time when Germany's actions increased stress in Europe. New and fast monoplanes like Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane were already under the work but before they would be on duty more traditional and faster to produce plane was needed. The rearmament program of the Royal Air Force was decided to speed up and the Air Ministry ordered from Gloster in July 1935 23 fighters which were named Gladiator to a new specification F.14/35. The Gladiator's structure consisted of an all-metal airframe, fuselage had light alloy skinn panels as far as to the rear of the cocpit. The rear fuselage, wings, tailplane and rudder had a fabric covering. The prototype K5200 was modified to a Gladiator I standard in July 1935. A 830 hp Mercury IX radial engine with a Watts two-bladed wooden propeller was installed on the plane. Fairey-Reed three-bladed metal propeller was also tested on the plane. Difference between the performance of the propellers was in practise theoretic. The protype K5200 got also a sliding canopy. Armament consisted two fuselage mounted 7,7 mm Vickers Mk V machine guns and two wing mounted 7,7 mm Lewis machine guns wich were later shifted to Vickers "K" type. Late production machines had 7,7 mm Browning machine guns in the fuselage and wings. The RAF had eight Gladiator I squadrons in service in 1938. Totally 378 Gladiator I's were build between the years 1936 - 1937. The plane was used by the RAF and several foreign customers.

Gladiator II
British interests in the Middle East meant there was a requirement for more fighters. Initially this requirement was covered by Gladiator I's but the need of more aircraft steadily increased. Gladiator II was designed to fulfill these requirements. When the plane was in drawing board it's prospective operating region with hot, humid and dusty weather was also paid attention to, specially the engine. The planes used in the Middle East were fitted with Vokes air filters. The first Gladiator II built in the specification F.36/37 was completed on February 1938 and it was equipped with 830 hp Mercury VIIIA/AS engine. Engine's gear ratio was revised and the plane had a three-bladed Fairey-Reed fixed pitch metal propeller and a cocpit electric engine start. Gladiator II had also a more advanced cocpit instrumentation. Armament consisted of four fuselage and wing mounted 7,7 mm Browning machine guns. Gloster build totally 270 Gladiator II's between the years 1938 - 1940 for the RAF and to the foreign customers.

Sea Gladiator
The British Admiralty found itself in 1937 with an approaching war and no suitable fighter to protect it's carriers from enemy air attacks. The Fairey Fulmar was planned to replace the obsolete Hawker Nimrod, but it would be in service not until 1940. Getting a new carrier fighter was in a hurry and the only suitable and available type was the Gloster Gladiator. The Admiralty chose the Gladiator which still was in production but which already was replaced by monoplane fighters in the RAF service. The first 38 Gladiator II fighters off the production line were retained at the factory for modification to Sea Gladiator standard in 1938. A V-shaped arrestor hook, recalibrated airspeed indicator and a new naval radio were added. To the next 60 planes batch a catapult launching system and a life raft under a streamlined covering between the landing gear legs were added. The Sea Gladiator had the same Mercury VIIIA engine than the Gladiator II. The Sea Gladiator armament consisted of four 7,7 mm Browning machine guns, two in the fuselage and two in the lower wings. The dimensions of the Sea Gladiator were the same as those of the Gladiator I and the Gladiator II, only the maximum flying weight differed a little and the Sea Gladiator was the heaviest of them all. Differences between performance of the types was very small.

Gladiators in British service
Following the war's outbreak the French Government asked the British Air Ministry to deploy fighter and bomber squadrons to France. In March 1939 Gladiator squadrons N:o 607 and 615 were sent to Merville France. Hard fightings against Luftwaffe started on 10 May 1940. N:o 607 squadron achieved almost 80 victories (unofficial though, the squadron logbooks were dissapeared) before the Luftwaffe finally destroyed the planes on the ground. The remained Gladiators were burnt before the British withdrew.

From April to June in 1940 the RAF's Gladiator squadron N:o 263 defended British troops in Narvik area in Norway against German air raids and shot down 23 reconnaissance planes and bombers. The squadron lost 26 Gladiators on bombings and in accidents. When British troops withdrew from Norway the surviving ten Gladiators were sent to aircraft carrier Glorious which was sunk next day on its journey back to England.

When Italy declared war to Great Britain in June 1940 Gladiator squadrons N:o 33, 80, 94 and 112 stationed in North-Africa were involved to battles which spread throughout the Mediterranean area. Gladiators battled in Greece, Crete and in North-Africa against Italians and Germans. It was just the Mediterranean theatre where Gladiators saw most action and where the type achieved its best success when fighting against the Italians. Gladiator was also used by the Royal Navy as a carrier fighter.

Possibly Gladiator is best remembered from the Battle of Malta where it defended the island desperately against overwhelming enemy. At the first air battles of the Malta six Gladiators and four Hurricanes based at Hal Far and Luqa was the only fighter force of the island. The Gladiators and Hurricanes fought against 72 enemy formations and shot down totally 37 enemy planes. When the few fighters rose to the sky time after time to defend the island they encouraged the people to continue fighting. Three of these Gladiators were soon named as Faith, Hope and Charity. One of these original planes can be seen in war museum of Malta in Valletta (only fuselage).

Gladiators in Finland
After the outbreak of the Winter war Finland tried to acquire aircrafts from all over the world. Finnish Government ordered 20 Gladiator II fighters from England in December 1939. When Finland asked more planes in addition to the 20 Gladiators it had bought the British Government donated 10 Gladiators to Finland. Partly assembled planes were shipped to Göteborg Sweden from where they were transferred by train to Malmö where they were fully assembled under the guidance of British. From Malmö the planes were taken to Barkaby airfield from where Finnish pilots brought them to Finland between 18.1. - 16.2.1940. The planes were given to LLv26 (Flying Squadron 26) during January - February in 1940. LLv 26 flew over 600 sorties in Winter war and gained 34 aerial victories. Two pilots of the squadron became Gladiator-ace: Oiva Tuominen achieved 6,5 and Paavo Berg achieved 5 kills while flying Gladiator.

The squadron lost six pilots and 13 planes of which 11 planes were lost in aerial battles. The losses were due to the slowness of the plane and the poor ability to withstand damage. Fuel tanks didn't have any protection and caught fire easily and there was no pilots armour. Other units in Winter war that used Gladiators was LLv 12 which flew totally 67 missions whithout own losses. LLv 14 flew 34 missions and gained three kills losing one pilot and a plane.

During the Contunation war LeLv 12 (Flying Squadron 12) and LeLv 14 used Gladiators for a short time to reconnaissance missions until they delivered the planes to LeLv 16 which also was a reconnaissance squadron. LeLv 16 operated from many bases until to the end of the war and flew 2000 missions. Gladiators achieved one kill during the Contunation war and ten planes were lost, four in action. The GL-275 flew the last flight of the type on 20.2.1945.


Gladiators in Sweden
Sweden ordered 37 Gladiator I's in 1937 and 18 Gladiator II's one year later. The planes were renamed by Swedish as J8 (Gladiator I) and J8A (Gladiator II). Swedish Gladiator I had 645 hp Bristol Mercury VI engine and Gladiator II had 830 hp Mercury VIII engine. The planes were equipped with German Revi-3c gun sight. 45 of the planes was ordered to F8 fighter unit which was responsible of the air defence of Stockholm and the rest of the 10 planes were stored. The last Gladiator was taken out of service in 1947.

After the outbreak of Winter war between Finland and Soviet Union on 30.11.1939 Swedish air force founded a volunteer unit with the approval of Swedish Government to support Finland. The unit got name F19 and it consisted of 12 J8A (Gladiator II) fighters, 4 B4 Hart (Hawker Hart) light bombers, two transports and one liason aircraft and 250 men. Silver camouflage pattern was sprayed partially over the olive green upper surfaces of the planes. Swedish national insignias were replaced by Finnish blue swastikas and yellow identifying letters were painted to the rudders of the planes. The planes were equipped with ski undercarriage.

F19 moved to Finland to Kemi's Veitsiluoto on 10.1.1940. Veitsiluoto was the main base of the F19, additionally there were also six other bases for to use. The main tasks of the F19 was reconnaissance, assaults against enemy ground forces and to protectect aispace north of Oulu. The first battle of the F19 took place already on 12.1.1940 when four J8A Gladiators and four B4 Harts attacked succesfully against enemy road traffic west of Märkäjärvi. After the attack the flight continued towards a nearby Soviet ice base which was their next target. Ensign Ian Iacobi shot down one I-15 fighter and three others were destroyed on the ice. Although the attack was a success it was costly to the attackers too. Two of the B4 Harts collided in the air and were destroyed and the third was shot down by three Soviet I-15bis fighters. One of the crew members of the B4 Harts was killed, two were captured by the Soviets and three got back to the Finnish lines.

F19 was active during 62 days to the end of the Winter war on 12.3.1940. It gained 12 air victories of which six were fighters and six were bombers. F19 lost three B4 Harts and three J8A Gladiators in action. Three Swedish volunteer pilots had lost their life when defending the Freedom of the North. After the armistice the remaining planes were flown to Sweden. For the time of ferry flights the Finnish national markings were overpainted with characteristic markings.

Other users

Latvia
The first foreign customer of Gloster was Latvia which bought 26 Gladiator I in 1937. Most of the planes fell into the hands of Soviets when Soviet Union occupied Latvia and later when Germany occupied the country in 1941 the planes ended up to Luftwaffe.

Lithuania
Lithuania bought 14 Gladiator I in 1937. All of the planes fell into the hands of Soviets when Soviet Union occupied the country. Later in 1941 when Germany occupied the country most of the planes were destroyd on the ground by Luftwaffe.

Norway
Norway ordered 12 Gladiator I in 1937. Later the order was changed to comprise six Gladiator I and six Gladiator II. Ten of the planes were ready for action when Germany attacked in Norway 8.4.1940. Norwegian Gladiators destroyed seven German planes. Finally Luftwaffe succeeded in destroying six Gladiators at their airfields. One Gladiator landed on frozen lake due to engine failure but one wheel went through the ice and the plane was abandoned. Two Gladiators were moved to another frozen lake north of Oslo where they landed on ice and again one wheel went through the ice and the aircraft was abandoned. This plane was later captured by the Germans. One Gladiator was left behind on the ice when Norwegian forces withdrew but it was collected later in April. It was intended to make an ground attack against any Luftwaffe aircraft found at Gardermoen airfield with this last Gladiator but it's engine failed during the mission. The Gladiator was damaged when it hit the trees but the pilot managed to re-start the engine and fly back to base. The aircraft was later declared unserviceable.

Belgium
In the summer of 1937 Belgium ordered 22 Gladiator II fighters to its airforce. When Germany occupied Netherlands 10.5.1940 14 serviceable Gladiators and 12 Hurricanes scrambled against orders and with poor success against attacking Luftwaffe planes. The battles lasted two days and during that time Luftwaffe's Bf 109 fighters shot down 9 Gladiators and destroyed three planes on the ground. Two Gladiators were lost under the defence fire of He 111s. All the 12 Hurricanes were also destroyed in the battles.

China
China ordered 36 Gladiator I fighters in October 1937 to fight against Japanese troops that were pushing in the land. 20 of these planes arrived to Hong Kong at the end of 1937. The planes were transferred in their transport containers to Kai Tak airfield in Hong Kong for assembling. Japan's political pressure against the British Government halted plans to assemble the planes in Hong Kong and the planes were sended by train to Kanton. Gloster's technical crew aided Chinese to assemble the planes. Assembling was done dispersed in odd places for example on grave yard because of attacking Japanese. 16 planes which were the remainder of the ordered batch arrived to China soon after the first batch. Most of these planes were lost by the end of August 1938 in battles against Japanese and rest of the planes were written off due to battle damage. The story goes that three Chinese pilots continued their fighting against Japanese with Gladiators up to December 1939. The last three Gladiators continued in training duties till the beginning of 1940.

Ireland
Ireland bought four Gladiator I's in 1937 and ordered later four more planes. The later ordered planes were never delivered but were taken to British use. The last attempt to acquire four more planes was unsuccessful because UK declared commercial blockage for arms trade with Ireland. The UK send Hurricanes to Ireland to replace the Gladiators in January 1944 after the last Gladiator was destroyed.

Greece
The Royal Hellenic Air Force got two Gladiator fighters in 1938 when a Greek businesman purchased the planes from Gloster and then presented them to the airforce. From December of 1940 16 Gladiator I's were delivered to the Royal Hellenic Airforce from different squadrons of the RAF in Egypt. In the first part of 1941 Gladiators shot down eight Italian planes while loosing five own Gladiators. All the remaining Greece Gladiators were destroyed to their fields by attacking Bf 109's during 16. - 20.4.1941.

Egypt
According to the defence agreement between UK and Egypt in 1936 the RAF delivered 18 Gladiators in March 1939 to the Royal Egyptian Air Force. The planes were converted to Gladiator II standard in England. In 1940 18 more ex RAF Gladiator II planes were delivered to Egypt. The RAF and the REAF operated from the same bases and sometimes their mechanics repaired each other planes. The planes were written off from duty in 1945.

Iraq
Iraq acquired 15 Gladiator I's to it's airforce in the latter part of the 1930's. The planes were maintained by the RAF on its Habbaniya airbase. Iraq returned later many planes back to the RAF. When Germany raised a revolt against the British in Habbaniya in May 1941 nine Iraqi Gladiators operated against the British. In this battle the Royal Iraq Air Force (RIAF) achieved one victory. In March 1944 RAF assigned five Gladiator II planes to Iraq to compensate the planes it got in use in 1941. Even in 1949 at least two Gladiators were still airworthy in Mosuli.

Portugal
Portugal ordered 15 Gladiator II fighters to it's air force in July 1938. The planes were sent as kits to Algarve Portugal where they were assembled. Portugal tried to acquire more modern fighters from UK but they were not for sale. Instead 15 more Gladiator II's were supplied. The planes were used to defend Azores islands till the latter half of 1943. Gladiators were used in fighter training role in the Portuguese Air Force still in the first part of the fifties.


War booty and alliance planes

Soviet Union got approximately 32 war booty planes when it occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and it used the planes in training.

Germany got war booty planes from Latvia (ex Soviet Union planes) and Norway. There were totally 13 - 15 airworthy planes registered in Luftwaffe. They were used as towing planes in glider pilots training.

Australia, Free France and South-Africa got planes from the RAF. The Australian air force achieved also success with its planes (36) gaining totally 18 victories when fighting against the Italians. Also the South-African air force battled with the Italians without success.

Photos from different stages
Hold the mouse cursor over thumbnail for a while before clicking !

Technical data of Gloster Gladiator Mk II ( J8A )

Engine 840 hp Bristol Mercury VIII S3 9-sylinder aircooled radial engine
Dimensions Span 9,83 m; lenght 8,36 m; hight 3,15m; wing area 30,00 m2
Weights Empty weight 1580 kg; Max. takeoff weight 2160 kg
Wing loading 72,0 kg/m2
Performance Max. speed 410 km/h (at 4600 m); Climbing speed 3000 m /4,2 min; Cruising speed 310 km/h
Ceiling 10700 m
Range 710 km
Armament 4 x 8 mm mg m/22; (Two synchronised mg in fuselage, two in gondolas under lower wings), 4 x 12 kg bombs could be carried under left wing
Production 794 (all versions)

References

  • Squadron/Signal publications: Gloster Gladiator in Action by W.A. Harrison
  • Lentäjän näkökulma II: Jukka Raunio
  • Svensk flygplanshistorik, J8 - Gloster Gladiator
  • Håkans Aviation Page - F19 calender
  • Fighter Tactics Academy - F19, Swedish volunteer unit in Finland during the Winter War by Mauno A. Salo
  • Suomen ilmavoimien historia 25: Hurricane&Gladiator by K Keskinen and K Stenman
  • Suomen ilmavoimien historia 12: Englantilaiset hävittäjät by K Keskinen, K Stenman and K Niska
  • Upottakaa Rommelin laivat: Charles Lamb
  • Main page