The Gloster Gladiator represented the pinnacle of biplane fighter design, but despite its undoubted pedigree, it was almost obsolete as soon as it entered RAF service. With both the Hurricane and Spitfire already in development, RAF Gladiator Squadrons saw little service with home based units during WWII. Two Squadrons of Gladiators did take part in the Battle of France, where they managed to inflict surprisingly heavy losses on superior German aircraft types.
During the early air engagements of the Second World War, RAF Gloster Gladiators were thrust into battle against significantly superior Axis forces. In the hands of an experienced pilot, the Gladiator was easily capable of destroying most German aircraft types, with the exception of the feared Messereschmitt Bf 109. The Ju87 Stuka proved to be particularly vulnerable to fighter attack and if a Gladiator could catch a Stuka as it pulled out of its dive-bombing attack, the Gladiator pilot would be hopeful of gaining an easy victory.
During the frenetic evacuation of the Dunkirk beaches, a small flight of Gladiators operated out of RAF Manston, where they would have been engaged in preventing Luftwaffe Stukas from attacking British troops trying to make good their escape. Two Squadrons of Gladiators/Sea Gladiators were also engaged in local defence duties during the Battle of Britain.
- Junkers Ju 87R-2 STUKA, Aircraft flown by Major Walter Sigel, 1./Sturzkampfgeschwader.3, Greece 1941:
- (Length 152mm x Width 192mm x pieces 110mm)
- Gloster Gladiator Mk1, Aircraft flown by Joseph Frederick ‘ Joe’ Fraser, No. 112 Squadron, Crete, 1941:
- (Length 118mm x 137mm x pieces 54)