Lithuanian Air Force use of the Gloster Gladiator during the Second World War

Lithuanian Gladiator before delivery.

Shortly after the Latvian Government placed its order for Gladiators, the Government of the neighbouring Baltic state of Lithuania also placed an order in May 1937, for 14 aircraft, which were specified to be armed with four 7.7mm Vickers Mk.VM machine guns (modified 0.303 inch guns). These were delivered by ship during October and November 1937 and were used by the Lithuanian Air Force from Vilnius and Kaunas, bearing the Lithuanian AF serial numbers G-701 to G-714.

The Gladiators were operated by 5 Eskadrilia of II Nailintuva Grupe (Fighter Group). At the time of the Soviet occupation the Gladiators were stationed at Shiauliai airfield under the command of Maj. J. Nauseda.

When the Russians invaded they captured most of the Air Force on the ground and subsequently impressed them into service for internal security purposes. Twelve Gladiators were found but two of them were in need of repair, the missing two were assumed to have been lost in accidents during their use by the Lithuanians.
In collaboration with the Red Army the 29th Territorial Army Corps was formed. This unit possessed its own air component, the Tautine eskadrilia, which was equipped with 9 ANBO-41 and 3 ANBO-51. This unit also operated 1 Gladiator. The Tautine eskadrilia was under the command of Maj. J. Kowas.

During the German invasion of Russia the Tauine eskadrilia operated for a few days against the advancing German Army. As a result of heavy raids most of the Lithuanian Air Force was destroyed on the ground although a few Gladiators were captured intact at Schaulen airfield and sent to Germany and Langendiebach in 1942.

At least on Lithuanian Gladiator (G-709) is known to have been captured by both the Russians and then by the Germans.

Gloster Gladiator Home Page - Alexander Crawford.
Iron Cross Gladiators: The Story of the Gloster's Luftwaffe Service - Andrew Thomas & Peter Green kindly provided by Andrew Thomas.
The Gloster Gladiator - Francis K. Mason, 1964 Macdonald & Co. Ltd. London