by: Randy Harvey [ ]
** Both the Gloster Gladiator and the Fiat CR.42 represented the peak in the development of the biplane fighter which could trace its lineage back to World War I. However, by the time both aircraft entered service in the late 1930s, they were already obsolete. Nevertheless, they gave sterling service on all fronts in the Mediterranean and Africa in 1940-41. Indeed, the CR.42 was the Regia Aeronautica’s staple fighter in both North and East Africa, Greece and over Malta in 1940-41, during which time its pilots routinely fought against British and Commonwealth squadrons equipped in the main with Gladiators. Some biter dogfights were fought between these two types as the Allies attempted to seize control of the skies over North Africa, Greece and East Africa. The biplanes were, in the main, flown by highly experienced pre-war pilots, and this in turn made for some closely fought engagements. **
** Quoted from the back cover of the book.
Osprey Publications Ltd has released Gladiator vs CR.42 Falco 1940-41 as Number 47 in their Duel series. It is a paperback book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations, information charts, maps, cut-away views and personal profiles and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-708-7. As the title states, the book covers the British Gladiator against the Italian CR.42 Falco during the years of 1940 and 1941.
- Design and Development
- Technical Specifications
- The Strategic Situation
- The Combatants
- Statistics and Analysis
- Further reading
The text in the book is well written and contains many excellent details of both the Gladiator and the CR.42 Falco during the years of 1940 through 1941 during World War II. Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo have done an excellent job of researching the actions of the various Italian and RAF units that flew the Gladiator and the CR.42 Falco and provides a very well written and accurate history of both. The text covers aspects of both the Gladiator and the CR.42 Falco such as the design, development and technical specifications of each. Also included in the text are personal accounts from both allied and axis pilots. The text also details things such as the training the pilots went through, combat missions, the different locals and the conditions encountered. Anyone interested in the British Gladiator and the Italian CR.42 Falco and their respective pilots and squadrons will find the text very detailed and informative. The text is well written and extremely detailed and I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through the book. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing.
Some of the Italian squadrons mentioned in the text are:
- 73 Squadriglia 9 Gruppo
- 413 Squadriglia
- 91 Squadriglia 10 Gruppo
- 75 Squadriglia 23 Gruppo
Some of the RAF squadrons mentioned in the text are:
- No. 1 Squadron SAAF
- No. 80 Squadron
- No. 3 Squadron
- No. 112 Squadron
Also included are technical specifications for the following:
- Gladiator I
- Gladiator II
- Sea Gladiator
- Fiat CR.42
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.
There are a total of 51 black and white photographs featured in this volume. Most of the photographs are well done, however there are some that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark which is typical for photographs of that period of time. I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason. With that said the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and take away nothing from the book. One thing that I was appreciative of with the photographs is that a good majority of them are not the same old overused photographs that tend to turn up. It is always nice to see the lesser known photographs. The color photographs are very nice and will prove to be very helpful to the military aircraft modeler as well as the aviation enthusiast and historian.
Some of the photographs that I found interesting, in addition to those of the Gladiator and the CR.42 Falco, were:
- A burnt out Gladiator which shows the internal structure of the upper and lower wings
- Italian maintenance crew working on CR.42 14-cylinder Fiat A74 R1C38 engine
- A ground crew refueling a Gladiator with “flimsy tins”
- An overturned CR.42 in North Africa – shows the details of the bottom of the aircraft
- RAAF riggers and fitters taking a break while overhauling a Gladiator in Egypt
- A wrecked Gladiator showing the internal structure of the aircraft
- CR.42s sitting on a heavily rock strewn runway at El Adem
- A Gladiator sitting in the shade of a large tree
- A Gladiator II in Kenya sitting next to what appears to be a camouflaged ammo or supple dump. There is also an aircraft spotter in a tree. The caption states that was the only form of early warning ‘equipment’ in-theatre
- British Sergeant William Vale’s personal aircraft showing the coat of arms of Framlingham College, which he attended, painted on the Gladiator fuselage
- A Gladiator showing an open cockpit access door which shows the internal details of the door. Also seen in the photograph is the fixed external ring gun sight
Other aircraft shown and mentioned are:
- A United States built Lockheed Lodestar
- A British Bristol Bombay
Some of the Italian pilots shown and discussed are:
- Capitano Mario Visintini
- Capitano Antonia Raffi
- Sottotenente Furio Lauri
- Sergente Maggiore Luigi Baron
Some of the British pilots shown and discussed are:
- Captain Brian Boyle
- Sergeant William Vale
- Flight Lieutenant Joe Fraser
- Flight Officer John Jackson
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.
There are 8 color illustrations by illustrators Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector that are very well done, nicely detailed and cover:
- Gladiator I – 3 multi-view illustrations
- CR.42– 3 multi-view illustrations
- Gladiator Guns – this is a cut-away view
- CR.42 Guns – this is a cut-away view
- CR.42 Falco Cockpit – pilot’s view of the cockpit with an accompanying legend describing each identified item
- Gladiator I/II Cockpit– pilot’s view of the cockpit with an accompanying legend describing each identified item
- Combat between No. 80 Squadron Gladiators and 9 and 10 Gruppi over the desert near Gabr Saleh in Libya, North Africa. – 2 page aerial combat illustration showing several aircraft in combat
- Engaging The Enemy – CR.42 pilot’s view of the cockpit and the San Giorgio Type B reflector gunsight as the pilot closes with two British Gladiators
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.
THE COLOR MAP:
There is 1 full page color map included in this volume that also comes with an accompanying full page legend that describes each of the marks of interest on the map. The included map shows:
- Allied and Axis airfields in several different locations in Africa and the Mediterranean
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the map for yourself.
THE INFORMATIONAL CHARTS:
There are 3 informational charts throughout the book that are very well done, nicely detailed and cover:
- Gladiator I and CR.42 comparison specifications
- Gladiator Aces with CR.42 Claims
- CR.42 Aces with Gladiator Claims
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the charts for yourself.
There are 2 individual profiles included that detail and cover:
- Mario Visintini (Italian Ace)
- Joseph Fraser (British Ace)
The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photographs because, as with the text, they describe the “who, what, when, where, and why”. They detail things such as the specific ships shown, ship class, key individuals, locations as well as what has happened in the scene shown. As with the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors as I read through the captions. As I stated before, grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
This is a well written and organized reference book. It examines the British Gladiator against the Italian CR.42 Falco during the years of 1940 and 1941 very well. With its well-researched text and relevant and detailed photographs this publication will not only benefit the aircraft and military enthusiast but the military aircraft modeler as well. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.
Gloster Gladiator on Wikipedia:
Fiat CR.42 Falco on Wikipedia:
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