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Les Fitzpatrick recalls oft-forgotten details of 3 Squadron’s involvement with the
Gloster Gauntlet aircraft…

[AWM 043192]

The Squadron received six Gloster Gauntlets early in October 1940.  They were to be used for dive-bombing and strafing ground-attack missions, and it was in this role that a flight of four Gloster Gauntlets was formed by 3 Squadron.  It consisted of the following aircraft and personnel:


bulletF/L Blake Pelley
bulletF/O Allan Rawlinson
bulletP/O Lyndsey Knowles
bulletP/O Woof Arthur.

There were two relief pilots: F/L Gordon Steege and P/O Alan Davidson.

Ground Crew

bulletSgt. Max Quinton
bulletSgt. Mort Kieley
bulletL.A.C. Jock Thom
bulletL.A.C. Les Fitzpatck
bulletL.A.C. Ted Bainbridge
bulletL.A.C. Ken Carrera
bulletA.C. Harry Sadler
bulletA.C. Griffiths.

This flight was attached to No 208 R.A.F. Squadron at Casarba and were engaged in dive bombing and ground strafing of Italian troops.

A Short History of the Gauntlet…

The production specification for the Gauntlet was issued in 1926.  It called for an aircraft capable of achieving 250 mph but it was 1932 before an engine of reasonable power was developed.  However, this model (J9125) could only deliver 212mph at 14,500 feet using a Mercury VIS.  The Mercury VIS2 was substituted in 1933, but the weight penalty incurred by the bigger engine plus twin Vickers guns, 1,200 rounds, radio, oxygen, night flying equipment with a take-off fuel load of 81 gallons and 6 gallons of oil meant only a few extra mph could be achieved… But it was still about 40mph faster than the aircraft it was to replace - the Bristol Bulldog.

The Gauntlet II evolved during the next four years until, by 1938, fourteen home-based RAF squadrons were equipped with Gauntlets, which by then had a far better power-plant and armaments.  By the time WW2 began on 3 September 1939, Gauntlets were being phased out by the RAF, in lieu of the newly-produced Gloster Gladiator.

At the time that 3 Squadron arrived in the Middle East (23 August 1940), some ‘left-over’ Gauntlets were made available to the new RAAF arrivals and thus the deployment flight was formed.

Interestingly, the last known use of Gauntlets by the RAF was in 1943 when, due to a shortage of replacement Gladiators in East Africa, four Gauntlets were delivered to 1414 Met. Flight at Eastleigh.  It has been said that these may have been from the ‘left-overs’ who had survived the early 1940s.

The Gauntlets we used were withdrawn on 13 November, 1940, due to unavailability of spare parts and the personnel returned to 3 Squadron at Gerawla where the squadron was then engaged in action with Gloster Gladiators.

A colour-profile of the starboard side of Gloster Gauntlet Mk.II K7843, which flew with 3 SQN from Helwan, Egypt. 
This aircraft is also prominent in the header photo above.

3 Squadron STORIES

3 Squadron AIRCRAFT

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