The Gloster F.5/34
was a British fighter
of the 1930s. It was a single-seat, single-engine monoplane
of all-metal cantilever construction; the undercarriage
was of the tailwheel
type with retractable main units.
Design and development
The F.5/34 was the first monoplane fighter built by Gloster
and the last design penned by H.P. Folland
for the company. It was developed in response to Air Ministry Specification F.5/34
, for a fighter armed with eight machine guns. Powered by an 840 hp Bristol Mercury
IX nine-cylinder radial engine
, the F.5/34 featured many of the trademark Gloster design elements including the tail and close-fitting cowling that resembled the earlier Gauntlet
biplane fighters. The low wing cantilever mainplane was built in one piece with light-alloy spars running through from tip to tip and ribs made from channelling with steel and light-alloy tube struts. Duralumin
stressed-skin was used on the mainplane and tail unit with fabric-covered Frise ailerons
. The fuselage was a monocoque structure built up from light, fabricated oval-section rings with duralumin skinning.
Development was delayed somewhat by the demands of the Gladiator production programme so that flight trials of the first prototype did not commence until December 1937 while the second prototype was not completed until May 1938.
By the time the F.5/34 began its flight tests, the 8-gun Hawker Hurricane
was in service and the Supermarine Spitfire
in production so that further development of the Gloster fighter was abandoned. However, compared to its contemporaries, test pilots found the F.5/34 prototypes had a shorter takeoff, better initial climb, were more responsive and manoeuvrable due to ailerons that did not become excessively heavy at high speed. Handling was considered very good and the all-round cockpit visibility was far better than the other designs. The Gloster F.5/34 debuted at the 1938 Hendon Air Show
, but soon after, both prototypes (K5604
) were relegated to experimental flying and finally as instructional airframes until May 1941.
A legend exists that the F.5/34 was the inspiration for the Japanese Zero, probably stemming from a superficial similarity between the two machines and Gloster's past links with the Japanese such as the Nakajima A2N. A comparison of specifications of the two aircraft can be found here (note: article written in Japanese).
- Bowyer, Michael J.F. Interceptor Fighters for the Royal Air Force, 1935-45. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1984. ISBN 0-85059-726-9.
- Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. The Complete Book of Fighters. New York: Smithmark, 1994. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8.
- James, Derek N. Gloster Aircraft since 1917. London: Putnam and Company Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-85177-807-0.
- Mason, Francis K. The British Fighter Since 1912. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.