A Conversation for Gloster Gladiator - World War II Aircraft
The Winter Wars 1939-40 and 1941-44
AgProv2 Started conversation May 31, 2007
Interesting article, but perhaps more on Gladiators in other countries' service?
Finland was a country that used Gladiators in combat with the USSR, in the Winter War of 1939-40 and the Continuation War of 1941-44.
Fortunately for the Finns, most Soviet aircraft were either of a poor standard or ineptly flown, and the Gladiator proved itself both as a fighter and as a ground-attack weapon. In the Continuation War, the Northern front was seen as a strategically unimportant backwater by the Russians, who assigned it a low level of priority for modern equipment and resupply, so the Gladiator was rarely up against top-class modern aircraft. During this phase of the war, Britain was nominally* at war with Finland (as an ally of the Germans from June 1941 onwards)so resupply and spare parts were a problem. Ingenuity and makeshift improvisation kept most of Finland's Gladiators flying, although towards the end of the War, attrition set in, and un-airworthy machines had to be sacrificed for parts to keep at least some in the air. When the Russians had conclusively defeated German forces in continental Russia in mid-1944, they were able to transfer overwhelming force to Scandinavia to knock out Finland and force them to conclude a peace treaty. This meant the Finns then had to ally to Russia and turn their armed forces against German units in Finland and Norway. The last of the Gladiators were still fighting in 1945 over Northern Norway against a stiff German rearguard.
*The only actual act of war between Britain and Finland was a half-hearted bombing raid over Finland's Arctic port at Petsamo, involving fighter-bombers of the Fleet Air Arm flown off a carrier. If the rules of the game meant we had to ally with the USSR against Finland - a complete reversal of the position in 1939 - our hearts perhaps weren't really in it...
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