Gloster Gladiator...

Mk.I and II (and Sea Gladiator), Monograph65 from Kagero, via Casemate

Title:  Gloster Gladiator

Author: Adam Cotton, Marek Rys

Publisher:  Kagero

ISBN:  978-83-65437-86-0

A new Monograph from Kagero, number 65 in the series, and this time it takes on the subject of the Gladiator. The culmination in the succession of biplane fighters that served with the RAF (and some foreign air arms) before we got to the monoplane Hurricane and Spitfire that made their name in the Battle of Britain. Yet I still found this a great reminder of just how important a role the Gladiator did play in the early years of WW2.  A 215 page softcover book, packed with information and the superb artwork that we expect from Kagero. The text, the history, fills the first 96 pages, while the rest of the book is filled with the amazing computer generated 3D colour artwork.

The opening text explains the evolution of the Gladiator, the last in the long line of fine RAF biplane fighters, and taking us on into the Gladiator Enters the Arena. Pre-war they were in in a silver, doped finish, though that was to change once war began and drab camouflage patterns became the order of the day. This works nicely into an examination of the Gladiator Mk I, Anatomy in Detail. This covers the likes of airframe construction, engine & propeller, exhaust, armament & cockpit and more. More development, with the Gladiator Mk II and the Sea Gladiator entering service with the Royal Navy. The service story covers the Phoney War period as well as in Norway, where many were lost using a frozen lake for an airfield, in Egypt, Kenya, North Africa and Greece plus of course the famous trio of 'Faith', 'Hope' and 'Charity' in defence of Malta, plus further afield in Iraq and Aden. Though withdrawn from front-line service, Gladiators continued to be used for second line use, such as comms and meteorological flights right through to the end of the war in 1945. A good number were also sold and used to foreign air arms and these are included - Belgium, China, Egypt, Ireland, Finland, France, Latvia and others. Throughout this history there are plenty of interesting archive photos, and I was particularly taken with pictures of Gladiators being transported on trucks, some great diorama ideas for modellers.

With this section done we get to the largest element of the book, the marvellous colour artwork. It reminds me a bit of the old 3/4 view sectioned drawings we used to see in publications such as The Aeroplane back in the days long before computers.  The difference is now not just one, but dozens, with a very high level of detail showing the aluminium airframe structure, detailed engine illustrations along with super cockpit detail and the skeletal wing structures. Further on we get the 'skin' added and a mixture of camouflage and marking schemes.

The balance of history, archive photos and the CG artwork make this fascinating for the aviation historian and equally good references for modellers, in whatever scale.  First class all round.

Distributed by Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin