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Gloster Gladiator

Gloster Gladiator Vol.1 Book Review

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review April 2009 Title Gloster Gladiator
Author Alex Crawford Publisher Mushroom Model Publications/Stratus
Published 2009 ISBN 978-83-89450-59-3
Format 272 pages, softbound MSRP (BP) £24.99


Mushroom Models Publications (MMP) is a publishing company based in in Redbourn, Herts, UK. They are patnered with Stratus Publications in Sandomierz, Poland, where they are printed in English. The book is available from MMP.

This new book is in soft-cover format of 272 pages. Of all the aircraft books I have received in the past from MMP, this one has the MOST pages ever. The pages are of 8 ¼” x 11 ¾” size.

The book describes the design, development and operational history of the Gloster Gladiator, the last biplane fighter used by the RAF. Developed from the Gauntlet, the Gladiator entered squadron service in February 1937. Although essentially obsolete even then, with the Hurricane and Spitfire also coming into service, Gladiators served with many RAF squadrons at home and abroad, and was drafted into service as a carrier-based fighter by the Fleet Air Arm. In British service the Gladiator had significant front-line wartime service, and remained on second-line duties until 1945.

The Gladiator was used by a wide selection of air arms before and during WWII, and saw active service with many of them, from African desert sands to the Arctic wastes of northern Finland. The full operational history of the type is described and illustrated in this book, which is a major update of Alex Crawford’s best-selling earlier edition from MMP. So much extra information has come to light and been included in this present work that it has had to be extended into two volumes, and in larger format. This second book will be titled “Gloster Gladiator, Vol. 2, The Survivors in Detail” and available in the future from MMP.

In volume 1, the design, development and history of the Gladiator is described, with 1/48th scale line drawings (9 of them-some as multi-views) and a 184 black and white wartime photos (mostly of Gladiators, with a few of their pilots thrown in for good measure). There are no less than 58 pages of data lists at the rear of the book and 14 full color profile illustrations.

The cover art is a color shot of the second production Gladiator K6131, during a pre-delivery test flight. This aircraft was delivered to 72 Squadron on 22 February 1937. It served for just over a year before being wrecked in a forced landing. This photo is repeated again, in black and white on page 7.

The back cover of the book has a color photo of a close-up of the plaque that was fitted to F/Lt. Joe Fraser’s Gladiator. The Greek text on it read “Slow but steady”. At the top were a row of X’s that indicated Fraser’s claims, while the X’s at the bottom indicated either damaged or probable kills. There is also a color shot of the cover art for the second future volume of the Gladiator book.

In volume 2, the technical specifications, details of surviving airframes and more color schemes will be presented as well as scale plans and many photos. These 2 volumes, together, will represent the most detailed coverage of this classic biplane fighter available, and invaluable resource for aviation enthusiasts, historians and modelers.

I want to thank Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and Casemate for this review sample.