The Gloster Aircraft Company F.9/37 (also known as the Gloster G.39) was designed to meet specification F.9/37 which called for a twin-engine, two-seat day and night fighter. The aircraft that emerged from the Design Team, led by W.G. Carter, was a twin-engine monoplane bearing more than a passing resemblance to a twin-finned Bristol Beaufighter.
Initially conceived as a two-seat fighter, the aircraft was intended to be heavily armed with two 20 mm cannon under the cockpit floor and four additional fuselage-mounted 0.303 machine guns. The second crew member position was deleted during development.
Two prototypes were built, the first (L7999) being powered by two Bristol Taurus radial engines and the second (L8002) by two Rolls-Royce Peregrine, liquid-cooled V-12 engines.
The first prototype (L7999) was flown for the first time on 3rd April 1939 and demonstrated good handling, light controls and high performance. It also recorded a maximum speed of 360 mph, the fastest by a British Fighter at the time. The cockpit 'field of view' was also favourably commented upon after official trials and described as 'a delight to fly'.
Sadly, the aircraft was damaged when landing at Boscombe Down and when re-engined with a 900 hp Taurus T-S(a)-Ills in 1940, it never achieved the same level of performance again.
The Peregrine-powered second prototype (L8002) flew on 22nd February 1940 and it proved to have a slightly lower performance than had been demonstrated by the higher-powered first prototype, only being capable of reaching a maximum speed of 330 mph.
Whilst there was a design proposal submitted by Gloster for a dedicated night-fighter variant to be known as the F.18/40, it was never built.
Support from the Air Ministry however, did lead to the conversion of a F.9/37 prototype to what was designated F.29/40 Gloster Reaper. Despite it being considered superior to the Bristol Beaufighter and even the De Havilland Mosquito, the project was terminated in 1941.
The Gloster F.9/37 design had exhibited almost flawless handling characteristics, was highly manoeuvrable and offered benign landing characteristics. Nevertheless, it was never to enter production although this decision did the enable Gloster to concentrate on jet aircraft developments.
|Powerplant||L7999: two 1,050 hp Bristol Taurus T-S(a) radial engines; L8002: two Rolls-Royce Peregrine liquid cooled V-12 engines|
|Span||50 ft 0.5 in|
|Maximum Weight||L7999: 11,615 lb; L8003: 12,108 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Single pilot. Two fuselage-mounted 20 mm Hispano cannon plus four 0.303 in machine guns|
|Maximum Speed||L7999: 360 mph at 15,000 ft; L8002: 330 mph at 15,000 ft|
|Number built||Two only: L7999 (Taurus); L8002 (Peregrine)|