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Gloster Gladiator Vol. 1
Development and History

By Alex Crawford

Mushroom Model Publications


S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number:

Gloster Gladiator Vol. 1                 
Development and History                 
by Alex Crawford
Mushroom Model Publications White Series 9106



Media: 272 A4 sized pages with a card cover.
Price: GBP £24.99 from Mushroom Model Publications
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Informative text, interesting selection of photographs, logical layout, 1:48 general arrangement drawings, inspiring artwork.

In the first of a two volume set, this publication encompasses a huge amount of data that describes the design, development and history of the Gloster Gladiator.


Reviewed by Rob Baumgartner

"Gloster Gladiator Vol. 1" is available online from Squadron


F i r s t  R e a d


The Gloster Gladiator was the last biplane fighter used by the RAF.

It was developed from the Gauntlet but by the time it entered service in February 1937, obsolescence had set in. Despite this, the Gladiator served with many RAF squadrons both home and abroad and even spent time in the Fleet Air Arm.

Many other countries used this aircraft as well, which saw it fly in areas as diverse as the sands of Africa and the Arctic ice of Finland.

Alex Crawford wrote an earlier book on the Gladiator which was a best-seller in its own right. As a result of a lot of new information, we have this expanded edition which is not only in a larger format but has to be extended to 2 volumes.

Consequently this issue contains 272 pages between the soft card covers. The book measures 21cm by 30cm and tells the story of the design, development and history of this fighter. Volume 2 will complete the narrative by giving a full technical description as well as detail shots of the airframe.

This publication is logically broken up into a number of sections, these being:

  • The Beginning – Obviously this is where it all started with Gloster’s chief designer improving their Gauntlet in a bid to meet Specification F.7/30 which in 1930 called for a new fighter aircraft.

  • Entry into service – The RAF receives its first machines and they enter service on 22 February 1937 with the newly formed 72 Sqn. The trials and tribulations of this introduction are explained as well as its further deployment to other units later in the year.

  • The Munich Crisis – Here we see the RAF’s response to this period of unrest and how it affected the future organization of their squadrons.

  • Gladiators in the Middle East – The RAF thought it was a good idea to strengthen the defense of this area and the text looks at the various squadrons assigned to the task.

  • The Gladiator goes to war – This is one of the larger sections in the book as it has a lot of ground to cover. WWII saw the Gladiator in action in many theatres and these include Norway, North Africa, the Balkans, East Africa, Persia and Iran. Other sub-sections talk about the aircrafts involvement in the Battle of Britain, the Iraqi conflict and various second-line duties. Not forgotten is an informative summary of RAF camouflage and markings.

  • Sea Gladiator – The Fleet Air Arm was in need of a single-seat fighter and the Air Ministry looked to the RAF. After adding an arrestor hook, the Gladiator was trialed for carrier deck operations onboard HMS Courageous. With a few other modifications the type was accepted and No.801 became the first Fleet Air Arm squadron to operate the type. The narrative describes this introduction and takes the reader through the rest of the Sea Gladiator’s life as it sees spirited action during WWII. As per the previous chapter, the colours and markings of these machines are also covered in detail.

  • Foreign Service – The Gladiator was used all around the world and 73 pages are devoted to this section. It was exported to 11 countries as well as being transferred to another 4. The text covers this admirably in addition to describing the livery worn by each.

  • Gladiator Production – There were 747 Gladiators built at the Hucclecote factory and the author has tabled each production contract with the aircraft type and its allocated range of serial numbers.

  • Gloster Gladiator in Commonwealth Squadron Service – With an update from Alex Crawford, Håkan Gustavsson has compiled a list that details the arrival and departure dates of aircraft serving in their various squadrons. This also includes notes on its service history as well as serial numbers and codes where known.

  • Gloster Gladiator claims – Amazingly, Gladiator pilots claimed to have shot down over 400 aircraft. This rises to over 600 if one includes “probables”. There were 17 pilots that achieved “ace” status in the Gladiator with another 30 having scored some of their total while using this aircraft.

  • Colour profiles – Sixteen lovely colour profiles are included that depict upper, lower, and both sides of the airframe. Many different nationalities are covered by the interesting array of markings and these should prove an inspiration to modellers.

Scattered throughout the book are over 200 black and white photographs. These are complimented by scale plans in 1:48 scale which take a look at the Gladiator Mk.I and Sea Gladiator. Also in this scale are selected side elevations which highlight foreign aircraft and those that were modified for specific purposes. Examples are Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish Mk.Is as well as those fitted with tropical and meteorological equipment.


C o n c l u s i o n


There is a lot of information packed into this publication and being volume 1…there’s more to come.

The text reads well and covers a vast amount of information. The layout is excellent and it’s easy to find your way around thanks to the detailed breakdown of the contents.

The result is a book can be enjoyed by modellers, enthusiasts and aircraft historians alike.

Thanks to Mushroom Model Publictions  for the sample.


All Mushroom Model Publications books are available direct from the publishers, who now accept credit cards (Visa, MC, Amex, Switch)  

North American distributors are MMD, Australian distributors are Platypus Publications. In Europe, the books are available from any good bookshop (via our UK distributors, Orca). Contact MMP direct in case of difficulties. 

Thanks to Roger at Mushroom Model Magazine  for the sample.

Review Copyright 2009 by Rob Baumgartner
This Page Created on 16 June, 2009
Last updated 17 June, 2009

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