By Derek Woolner and David Glynne Jones*
In February 1937, the Gloster Gladiator biplane entered service with the Royal Air Force. It was already obsolescent; Hawker Hurricanes began operational service late that year. Gladiators were effective early in World War II, but were rendered obsolete by the arrival of the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf 109s. A little more than eight years after the Gladiator began service, Gloster’s jet-engined Meteor joined the RAF, signalling the end of the era of propeller-driven monoplane fighters.
It seems increasingly probable that the application of light-metal battery technology to conventional submarine design will be as disruptive and transformative as these turning points in 20th century airpower were.