Biplane fighter pilots


Lieutenant Arve Braathen

At dawn on 9 April 1940, the Norwegian Jagevingen at Fornebu, Oslo, had seven of the ten available Gladiators serviceable, while the unit had ten officers and sergeants available to fly them, three of them under training. The serviceable Gladiators were 413, 419, 423, 425, 427, 429 and 433.

At 0500 Second Lieutenant Finn Thorsager (Gladiator 433) and Lieutenant Braathen (425) were sent off after the noise of aircraft engines was heard overhead. Thorsager spotted an aircraft with twin rudders about one kilometre away, which he identified as a Do 17; it was almost certainly a Bf 110. He attacked four or five times before it disappeared into cloud. Braathen saw a large aircraft, but was unable to catch it. Both pilots then returned to Fornebu.
When the Germans finally attacked Fornebu in the morning, Braathen was the last pilot in the air in Gladiator 413. He attacked one aircraft, which he forced to jettison its bombs near Brönnöya, although the Gladiator’s Mercury engine was running rough. He the encountered more aircraft over Høvik and chased one for a long way. This finally began to lose height with the starboard engine smoking, but he was then attacked from head on by a Bf 110 and had to break away. He landed on Lake Bogstad, but the wheel of his fighter went through the top layer of ice and stuck firm. The engine refused to produce enough power to pull the aircraft free and he had to abandon it.

Braathen survived the war with one damaged enemy aircraft, this one being claimed while flying the Gloster Gladiator.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  09/04/40 1 Enemy bomber Damaged Gladiator 413 Høvik Jagevingen

Biplane victories: 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 1 damaged.
(a) Norwegian units claimed 19 aircraft during the day of which fighters (the rest was claimed by ground gunners) claimed six. Luftwaffe lost two Bf 110s and a Ju 52/3m in combat, six Ju 52/3ms, one Bf 110 and one He 111 being brought down by ground fire.

Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Gloster Gladiator - Alex Crawford, 2002 Mushroom Model Publications, Redbourn, ISBN 83-916327-0-9
Gloster Gladiator Home Page - Alexander Crawford.

Last modified 11 June 2002