Gloster F.5/34 The "Unnamed Fighter"

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

Hello, and welcome back to my blog, today we are going to be taking a look at the Gloster F.5/34 fighter. As always thanks for visiting my site, and if you have any questions or requests do not hesitate to get in touch.


So, its sometime in the 1930s and the British Air Ministry specified that they wanted an armed fighter with eight machine guns and an engine with a cooling system to fight in the tropics. The Air Ministries specification was F.5/34, Gloster's answer to that specification was the Gloster F.5/34. The F.5/34 was designed by two people, Henry Folland, who had previously designed the Gladiator and the Grebe and H.E Preston. This aircraft was the first monoplane fighter to be built by Gloster, essentially the first aircraft they had built with only one wing.



The aircraft had 1 Bristol Mercury IX 9 cylinder, air cooled radial piston engine which had 840hp. The aircraft also featured a 3 bladed, variable pitch propeller. During the design and testing phase, the aircraft had its engine changed to the more modern Mercury IX engine instead of the Bristol Perseus engine. The cockpit started as a semi-enclosed cockpit, but was then changed to a glazed, frame like canopy, which slid open, and offered 360 degree visibility, which was a big upgrade to the aircraft. Two of these aircraft were ordered by the Air Ministry, which was unusual at the time, as the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane prototypes were only ordered individually. However, the production of this aircraft was delayed as Gloster Aircraft Company were also making several other military aircraft at the time, such as the Gladiator. For this reason the first one K5604 started flight trials in 1936 and the other K8089 first flew in 1938.



This aircraft was test flown at RAF Brockworth at the runway, known as the Hucclecote Aerodrome. In 1937 the aircraft was tested against the Bristol Type 146, Martin-Baker M.B.2 and the Vickers Venom, which would be tested by the Airplane and Armament Experimental Establishment. The aircraft was considered to be a brilliant aircraft to fly, and was considerably better than its counterparts. In fact, this aircraft was so good to fly, that parts of its design were used on Hurricanes and Spitfires. The aircraft, according to test pilots, had a very short take off run, had exceptional initial climb and was more responsive and maneuverable in air than the competition. It also had fantastic handling and cockpit visibility which was far superior to anything else of its time.



So, what went wrong? Well, as I previously mentioned, the Gloster Aircraft Company was delayed with the production of these two prototype fighters. The company already were producing the Gauntlet and the Gladiator, so producing another prototype on top of that was very tough task for the company. By the time they had got the first prototype ready for flight testing at Brockworth, the Spitfire and the Hurricane were already in full production and in active service. Due to this the aircraft would see no further development as none of the aircraft trialed in the Air Ministries specification were used any further. The aircraft was flown at the 1937 Hendon airshow but very shortly after that the two aircraft were just used for experimental flying. After this time the aircraft were then used as instructional airframes until 1941. This aircraft unfortunately was put down as an abandoned project. Where these two aircraft ended up after 1941 is largely unknown.


Specifications of the aircraft-

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1

  • Length: 32 ft 0 in (9.75 m)

  • Wingspan: 38 ft 2 in (11.63 m)

  • Height: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)

  • Wing area: 230 sq ft (21 m2)

  • Airfoil: root: NACA 2218; tip: NACA 2209[9]

  • Empty weight: 4,190 lb (1,901 kg)

  • Gross weight: 5,400 lb (2,449 kg)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Mercury IX 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 840 hp (630 kW)

  • Propellers: 3-bladed variable-pitch propeller

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 316 mph (509 km/h, 275 kn) at 16,000 ft (4,877 m)

  • Service ceiling: 32,500 ft (9,900 m) [10]

  • Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 11 minutes

  • Wing loading: 23.5 lb/sq ft (115 kg/m2)

  • Power/mass: 0.156 hp/lb (0.256 kW/kg)

Armament

  • Guns: 8x 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Browning machine guns

With specs like that, and feedback like that, it begs the question what would have been of this aircraft? It is hard to say, but the pilot feedback seemed to suggest this aircraft was capable of something much better, unfortunately, an abandoned project military project, long forgotten in the past, is all that remains of this aircraft.


Sources- Gloster F.5/34 - Wikipedia



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