RAF and RAAF control the skies over Libya

RAAF Gladiators return to their base in the Desert. They were more than able to hold their own against the Italian biplanes.

Our fighters have continued to maintain their ascendancy over the Italian Air Force. On the 26th Gladiators of the Royal Australian Air Force shot down without loss two, and probably six, of a number of C.R. 42 fighters which were escorting a bomber formation, and on the 28th Hurricanes shot down three bombers and a fighter, again without loss.

There is much more on No. 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force at their website which describes the Gladiator:

The little single-bay, all metal biplane was robust and highly manoeuvrable and therefore ideal for aerobatics which meant, in war time, good at dodging the enemy in a dog-fight.

More importantly, it didn’t have any bad faults once it had been correctly rigged. It was armed with four .303 machine guns … two in the fuselage firing between the propeller blades by means of an interrupter gear and two in blisters under the wings. Its 840 horse power Mercury 8A engine propelled it at a maximum speed of 250 miles per hour at 15,500 feet and it could climb to this height in 6 minutes before reaching its ceiling at 32,800 feet. It cruised at 210 miles per hour and could land at 59 miles per hour. In all, an aeroplane that, whilst lacking some of the performance qualities of the sleek, fast enemy aircraft being introduced into the Western Desert, was still a regular little terrier which had quite a lethal bite.

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Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: