|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Gloster|
The Gnatsnapper was designed to the requirements of Specification N.21/26 calling for a single-seat shipboard fighter of all-metal construction and powered by a Bristol Mercury IIA nine-cylinder air-cooled radial. The first of two prototypes, temporarily powered by a Jupiter VII engine, flew in February 1928. The Mercury IIA was subsequently installed, but as this did not measure up to anticipated performance or reliability, the Jupiter VII was reinstated for official trials. The second prototype was not completed until March 1930, initially with a Mercury IIA, but the designated power plant was again discarded shortly thereafter. The first prototype was re-engined with a 540hp Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar VIII 14-cylinder radial as the Gnatsnapper II, but suffered damage during official trials. In 1931, it was re-engined once more, with a steam-cooled 525hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIS, as the Gnatsnapper III, subsequently serving as a Rolls-Royce test-bed and hack aircraft.