David Knights' Weblog

February 15, 2020

Book review: Gloster Gladiator Aces

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 12:00 pm
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Gloster Gladiator Aces
Osprey of the Aces #44
Author: Andrew Thomas
ISBN 1 84176 289 X
Publication year 2002
Pgs 96

The Gloster Gladiator was the last RAF biplane fighter put into service. It was also the last biplane fighter to see combat service with the RAF. While most people tend to think of the Gladiator as proceeding the Hurricane and Spitfire, it actually was developed and built almost contemporaneously with those other two, more famous aircraft. The Gladiator was a progressive development of Gloster’s Gauntlet biplane fighter and it was developed and ordered as an insurance policy in case the more radical Hurricane and Spitfire failed to live up to expectations. They didn’t, and as a result the Gladiator had a very limited front line service with RAF home fighter squadrons, with only a couple of squadrons seeing limited service in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. However, the Gladiator saw more extensive service in the Mediterranean, Greece, Egypt and east Africa. In addition, the Gladiator was used by the Greek, Chinese, Belgian, Norwegian and Finnish air forces. Most famously, the naval version, the Sea Gladiator saw limited but vital service on Malta, constituting its only air defense for several months after Italy’s entry into WWII

This book is in the classic Osprey format.  It starts with a history of the aircraft and then flows naturally into discussion of the use of the aircraft in a particular theater, highlighting the stories and combats of some of the pilots who became aces flying the aircraft.  in addition, in the center of the book there are 9 pages of color side view illustrations of some of the aircraft flown by the pilots whose stories are told in the book.

While the book is by no means comprehensive it is an excellent introduction to the Gladiator and its combat history. While a little expensive if purchased at full price ($18) the titles in this series can often be purchase at a discount if you shop around.  I recommend the book to anyone wanting a basic introduction to the Gladiator’s combat experiences in WWII.

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