Gloster Gladiator Timeline
March 1934: Gloster begins construction on an aircraft to fit Specification &.7/30.
September 1934: 1st flight of prototype S.S.37 piloted by Flt. Lt. P.E.G, Sayer.
Engine: Bristol Mercury VIS: 645 hp.
Armament: 2 x 0.303 Vickers + 2 x 0.303 Drum fed Lewis machine guns.
Maximum Speed: 242 mph./11,500 ft.
3 April 1935: The Air Ministry sponsored extensive trial of prototype S.S.37 now known as K 5200.
Late April 1935: Specifications F.14/35 had been drawn up and agreed on. A contract for 23 aircraft
was awarded to Gloster.
1 July 1935: The name Gladiator becomes official.
During 1936: The Gladiator entered production at Brockworth.
January 1937: The first three production aircraft flew; K6129, K6130 & K6131.
16 February 1937: The first batch of Gladiators are delivered to the RAF starting with K6129.
22 February 1937: No.72 Sqdn. at Tangmere becomes the 1st to receive five aircraft, Nos.
K6130-K6134. These were flown to Church Fenton, lead pilot was Flt. Lt. E.M.Donaldson.
The 1st production batch had the Lewis guns under the lower wings. The Lewis guns were
seldom used because of service difficulties.
2 April 1937: No.3 Sqdn. Stationed at Kenely became the second Gladiator sqdn.
27April 1937: No.54 sqdn.stationed at hornchurch is the 1st to receive the Browning-firing
(4 x 0.303) Gladiators.
Note: (A comparison to Bristol Bulldog, Gloster Gauntlet, Hawker Fury and possibly Demon.)
Pilots were complimentary of the new fighter, however operational training had a high
rate of mild accidents. The main flying difficulties were from the increase in wing loading
and lack of experience in landing with the larger flap area. The Gladiator stalled more
abruptly, with increased tendency to drop a wing and the relatively easily attained flat spin
demanded great care for recovery.
September 1937: Eight Gladiator squadrons had become Operational: Nos.3, 54, 56, 65, 72,
73, 80 & 87.
Mid 1938: No.80 Squadron operated a detachment of about 3 Gladiators in 'Airpin' operations
form Ramlech in Palestine against Arab cordon breakers beginning the Gladiator's war in
the Middle East.
October 1939 - May 1940: About 50 Gladiators flew to France to help stop the German invasion.
8 April 1940: No.263 Squadron at Filton readied for operations in Finland.
The Norwegian Campaign
22 April 1940: Eighteen pilots and aircraft headed from Scapa Flow (north of Scotland mainland)
Norway aboard H.M.S. Glorious. 150 mls. off shore they flew their planes off and landed on
the frozen Lake Lesjaskog in central Norway.
26 April 1940: Last four remaining Gladiators of No.263 Sqdn. flew north to Aandalsnes where
they were forced to destroy their steeds from lack of fuel that kept them grounded.
14 May 1940: No.263 Sqdn. with eighteen replacement Gladiators set sail on H.M.S. Glorious
for Narvik far to the north.
22 May 1940: No.263 Sqdn. arrives at Bardufoss with sixteen Gladiators, two had been lost in
7 June 1940: No.263 & 46 (Hurricanes) Sqdns. were evacuated from Narvik landing on H.M.S.
8 June 1940: H.M.S. Glorious was sunk by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and almost the
entire strength of both squadrons was lost. Two pilots of No.46 Sqdn. were rescued.
For the Gladiator the war continues:
10 June 1940: Italy declares war on France and Great Britain. Gladiators were distributed
between Malta, Egypt, Palestine, Aden and the Indian Ocean since 1939.
1 June 1940: No.94 Sqdn., at Ismailia, handed its Gladiators over to the South African Air Force
and the Royal Australian Air Force.
1944: Numerous meteorological flights in North, East and West Africa, Mosulin Iraq, Gibraltar,
Iceland and at hove with the Fleet were still being carried out by Gladiators.
Famous Fighters of the Second World War Vol.2, William Green
The Gloster Gladiator Profile Publication 98, Francis K. Mason
Edited by CORSNING, 08 July 2016 - 06:39 PM.