Kagero's Gloster Gladiator


Adam Cotton & Marek Rys




$30.95 from Casemate Publishing


Scott Van Aken

Notes: #3065. ISBN 978-83-65437-86-0, 216 pages

The Gloster Gladiator was an aircraft developed and accepted by the RAF as much because the RAF was in real need for fighters than because of its performance. During this time the Hurrican and Spitfire were coming on line, but many units were still flying even older biplane types and it was felt that the Gladiator would work well in areas where the competition wouldn't be superior. It was also seen as useful for the Fleet Air Arm as its rather docile landing speed would make it perfect for carrier use. So it was that hundreds of these aircraft were produced. It was fairly successful in the export market with Norway, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania, China, Greece and Iraq buying aircraft prior to the start of WWII.

When the war began, the RAF had not only regular and auxiliary air force units equipped with them at home, but they were fairly numerous in Egypt. The FAA had some on carriers and others in crates at various locations where they thought they would be needed, including both Egypt and Malta, fortuitously for that island.

Initial combat in the UK showed they were generally unable to catch German bombers and despite their excellent maneuverability, were no match for German fighters. The movement of the war to Norway saw their first major deployment and while there were some successes against German bombers, the type was easily destroyed on the ground and events were such that they were all destroyed in one way or another. Same thing happened to the few sent to France. Those sent to the Finnish AF did fairly well against the Soviets, but again, were obsolescent by the end of the Winter War.

It was in North and East Africa where things were a little better. The Italians did not have planes that were all that much superior and it was here that the Gladiator really did well. This was due as much to pilot training as the main adversaries were also biplanes and the types were evenly matched. Still couldn't catch bombers, but tactics were developed to allow some success. Then there was Malta. Initially, Gladiators, specifically Sea Gladiators, were the only defense. These were pretty ineffective. By the time the Gladiators got into the air, the Italians and generally completed their bomb runs and were headed home. Gladiators simply could not catch them. Despite their minimal successes and fairly short combat career over Malta, the PR folks made a big deal out of it to help boost morale at home.

This  Kagero volume on this aircraft and one of their 3D productions. That pretty much means  that half the book will be a myriad of superbly done CAD drawings of various parts of the aircraft. There are also a goodly number of color views of aircraft in various camouflage schemes. The historical section is very compete and covers probably every RAF/Commonwealth unit and combat sortie flown by the type. One of the reasons it is 216 pages. There are a lot of period photos, but they generally seem to have been tossed in the book in a rather haphazard way. You'll be reading about East Africa and have photos from before the war or Norway. The Phony War section has photos from Greece or Egypt and so on. This all has something of a feel that the book was rushed into publication.

Despite that, it is a superb book that offers a great history and lots of detail information for the enthusiast. I think you'll like it. 

August 2019

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