ICM - 1/32 Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk.II with Royal Navy pilots. Air forces of the Royal Navy at the beginning of World War II consisted of 20 squadrons with a total of 232 aircraft. The tasks of naval aviation included reconnaissance, spotting for battleships, offensive operations against enemy warships and
merchant vessels, and protection against
submarines and enemy aircraft. Squadrons
typically had 9-12 aircraft of the same type,
although sometimes their composition was mixed.
A notable feature of British naval aviation before
World War II was the significant number of biplane aircraft. This was due to their superior flying characteristics for deck landings in open seas. The single-seat biplane fighter, Gloster Sea Gladiator, was produced from 1938 and was a naval version of the land-based Gladiator fighter. The deck variant differed from the land-based one with a reinforced lower wing, modified equipment, a tailhook for landing, and a life raft housed beneath the fuselage. Between December 1938 and February 1939, 60 Gloster Sea Gladiators were produced, with an additional 38 aircraft obtained by converting land-based Gladiator Mk.II fighters.