The period before World War 2 (1939-1945) was one of advancing agendas and technologies. Many aircraft-makers plied their trade in the hopes of securing potentially lucrative deals with global governments. Gloster Aircraft, a major player in the British aero-industry since its founding in 1917 during World War 1, attempted to sell the British Air Industry on its new single-seat, single-engine monoplane fighter during the late 1930s - the Gloster "F.5/34".
Prior to the commitment to the F.5 project, Gloster had only experience in biplane fighter types. The F.5 was a step in the right direction and provided company engineers with much-needed experience in the nuances of monoplane flight involving a retractable undercarriage, wholly-enclosed cockpit and metal skinning. Henry Folland and H.E. Preston were both credited with its design.
The F.5/34 was developed by the company to fulfill Air Ministry Specification F.5/35 (hence its designation) and this design would compete against submissions from industry stalwarts in Bristol, Martin-Baker and Vickers. The requirement sought a radial-powered gunnery platform armed with no fewer than 8 x 7.7mm machine guns. Its primary purpose was to operate in the tropical and mountainous environments of the Far East where the British colonial pretense was still alive and well. The uniqueness of this environment required an equally-unique fighting platform.
As designed, the F.5/34 would be powered by a single Bristol Mercury IX 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine of 840 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller at the nose. The cockpit would be installed just aft of this and the tail unit would incorporated a basic single-rudder, twin-stabilizer arrangement. The undercarriage consisted of a tail-dragger configuration for ground-running. The mainplanes were set well-forward of midships and were straight in their general design with rounded tips. Construction involved both metal alloys and fabric with a Duralumin skinning process used. its external appearance was akin to that of the classic Japanese Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" and the British design may have inspired this famous airplane.
A first-flight was recorded in December of 1937 and a second prototype followed the next year.
The aircraft exhibited a length of 32 feet with a wingspan of 38.1 feet and a height of 10.1 feet. Empty weight was 4,200lb against an MTOW of 5,400lb. Top speed reached 316 miles per hour and the listed service ceiling was 32,500 feet with 20,000 feet of altitude being reached in 11 minutes. Proposed armament was the requested 8 x 7.7mm machine gun fit.
During testing, the Gloster F.5/34 had a good showing but it faced an uphill battle for a new war in Europe was brewing and the Royal Air Force was already committing to an inventory of Hawker Hurricane as well as Supermarine Spitfire fighters which were more-than-capable gunnery platforms for the foreseeable future. After war official broke out in September of 1939, the Gloster aircraft was relegated to testing duties and ended its flying days in May of 1941.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
32.0 ft (9.75 m)
38.2 ft (11.65 m)
10.2 ft (3.10 m)
4,189 lb (1,900 kg)
5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
+1,323 lb (+600 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Gloster F.5/34 production variant)
1 x Bristol Mercury IX 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 840 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
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