Gloster Gauntlet

The RAF's last open cockpit fighter, noted for its handling and performance.
Gloster SS19B Gauntlet prototype RAF J9125Gloster SS19B J9125 in Gauntlet prototype configuration.
 
The Gloster Gauntlet had its origins in the Mercury IIA powered SS.18 J9125 which was designed by Gloster Aircraft Company against specification F.20/27 and flew in January 1929.  It was the last 'open-cockpit' fighter to be supplied to the RAF and the penultimate bi-plane to see fighter service.
 
Progressive modification, via the SS.18A (Jupiter VII engine), SS.18B (Panther III engine), SS.19 (Jupiter VIIF engine), SS.19A and SS.19B (Mercury IVS2 engine), resulted in the production Gauntlet (powered by the Mercury VIS engine). The Gloster Gauntlet SS19B (J9125) first flew in this configuration in July 1933.
 
The type was a two-bay, single-seat biplane armed with two fuselage-mounted 0.303 Vickers guns. Like many other Gloster fighters, the type offered a combination of excellent performance and handling.
 
Gloster Gauntlet I K4090 Air to air photograph of RAF Gloster Gauntlet I K4090.
 
The first of twenty-four production Gloster Gauntlet I (K4081) flew on 17th December 1934, first deliveries into RAF service was with 19 Squadron at Duxford, commencing in May 1935.  At the time, the Gloster Gauntlet provided a huge leap forward in performance, being 56 mph faster than the outgoing Bristol Bulldog, and for over 2 years it was the fastest fighter in the RAF.
 
204 Gloster Gauntlet II followed with structural revisions to adopt a Hawker-style construction, reflecting Hawker’s take-over of the Gloster business in 1934.
 
A further 17 Gloster Gauntlet's were built in Denmark by the Army Air service workshops. 25 ex-RAF aircraft were also transferred to Finland and fought against the Soviet forces following invasion at the end of November 1939.
 
Gloster Gauntlet II K7810 RAF Gloster Gauntlet II K7810 of 111 Sqn at RAF Northolt.
 

Variants & Numbers Built


Prototype                   One aircraft J9125 flown as SS.18 and SS.19 with different engines
Gauntlet I 24 initial production aircraft for the RAF
Gauntlet II 231 aircraft of which 17 built in Denmark
Total 246 aircraft

 

Specifications


                                            Gloster Gauntlet I             Gloster Gauntlet II
Powerplant One 640 hp Bristol Mercury VIS2 radial engine
Span 29 ft 9½ in 30 ft 1 in
Maximum Weight 3,950 lb 3,970 lb
Capacity & Armament Single pilot; Two Vickers Mk III or Mk V machine guns
Maximum Speed 230 mph 230 mph

 

Survivors


GT-400 Gauntlet II    
Airworthy at Kymi Airfield Aviation Museum, Finland.

 

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