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Air Force Military Aircraft: Gloster Meteor, Images by PHOTOVAULT®

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Multi-Role Fighter
Manufacturer Gloster Aircraft Company
Armstrong-Whitworth
Designed by George Carter
First flight 5 March 1943
Introduced 27 July 1944
Retired 1980s (RAF target tugs/Ecuador combat roles)
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Belgian Air Force
Israeli Air Force
Number built ~3,900

The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. Designed by George Carter, it first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Gloster Meteor was not an aerodynamically advanced aircraft but the Gloster design team succeeded in producing an effective jet fighter that served the RAF and other air forces for decades. Meteors saw action with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in the Korean War and remained in service with numerous air forces until the 1970s. Two Meteors, WL419 and WA638, remain in service with the Martin-Baker company as ejection seat testbeds.

Design and development

Gloster Meteor F.3

Development of a turbojet-powered fighter by Sir Frank Whittle's firm, Power Jets Ltd., and the Gloster Aircraft Company began in November 1940. The first British jet powered aircraft, the single-engined Gloster E28/39 prototype, had its maiden flight on 15 May 1941. The Air Ministry subsequently contracted for the development of a twin-engined jet fighter under Specification F9/40. The aircraft was to have been named Thunderbolt, but to avoid confusion with the USAAF P-47 Thunderbolt the name was changed to Meteor.

The Meteor's construction was all-metal with a tricycle undercarriage and conventional low, straight wings, featuring turbojets mid-mounted in the wings with a high-mounted tailplane to keep it clear of the jet exhaust.

Eight prototypes were produced. Delays with getting type approval for the engines meant that although taxiing trials were carried out it was not until the following year (1942) that flights took place. The fifth prototype, DG206, powered by two de Havilland Halford H.1 engines due to problems with the intended Whittle W.2 engines, was the first to become airborne on 5 March 1943 from RAF Cranwell, piloted by Michael Daunt[1] Development then moved to Newmarket Heath and, later, a Gloster-owned site at Moreton Valence. The first Whittle-engined aircraft, DG205/G, flew on 17 June 1943 (it crashed shortly after take off on 27 April 1944) and was followed by DG202/G in July. DG202/G was later used for deck-handling tests aboard aircraft carrier HMS Pretoria Castle. DG203/G made its first flight on 9 November 1943 but was soon relegated to a ground instructional role. DG204/G (powered by Metrovick F.2 engines) first flew on 13 November 1943 and crashed on 1 April 1944. DG208/G made its debut on 20 January 1944, by which time the majority of design problems had been overcome and a production design approved.

The two remaining prototypes never flew. DG209/G was used as an engine test-bed by Rolls-Royce. DG207/G was intended to be the basis for the Meteor F.2 with de Havilland engines, but when the engines were diverted to the de Havilland Vampire the idea was quietly forgotten.

On 12 January 1944, the first Meteor F.1, serial EE210/G, took to the air from Moreton Valence. It was essentially identical to the F9/40 prototypes except for the addition of four nose-mounted 20 mm Hispano cannon and some changes to the canopy to improve all-round visibility. For the production Meteor F.1, the engine was switched to the Whittle W.2 design, by then taken over by Rolls-Royce. The W.2B/23C turbojet engines produced 7.56 kN of thrust each, giving the aircraft a maximum speed of 417 mph (670 km/h) at 3,000 m and a range of 1,610 km. The Meteor Mk.I was 12.5 m long with a span of 13.1 m, with an empty weight of 3,690 kg and a maximum takeoff weight of 6,260 kg.

Typical of early jet aircraft, the Meteor F.1 suffered from stability problems at high transonic speeds, experiencing large trim changes, high stick forces and self-sustained yaw instability (snaking) due to airflow separation over the thick tail surfaces

Meteor F 1
First production aircraft built between 1943 and 1944.
Operators

 Argentina

* Argentine Air Force (100 units)

 Australia

* Royal Australian Air Force

* No. 22 Squadron RAAF
* No. 23 Squadron RAAF
* No. 75 Squadron RAAF
* No. 77 Squadron RAAF

Belgium

* Belgian Air Force (40 x F4, 43 x T7, 240 x F8, 24 x NF11)

Brazil

* Brazilian Air Force (62 units: F8 and TF7)
* 2°/1°GAvCa
* 1°/1°GAvCa
* 1°/14°GAv

 Canada

* Royal Canadian Air Force

 

 Denmark

* Royal Danish Air Force

 

 Ecuador

* Ecuadorian Air Force

 

 Egypt

* Royal Egyptian Air Force

 

 France

* French Air Force

 

 Israel

* Israeli Air Force

 

 Netherlands

* Royal Netherlands Air Force

 

 New Zealand

* Royal New Zealand Air Force

* No. 14 Squadron RNZAF (Two Meteor T.7 aircraft hired from the RAF)

 

 Norway

* Royal Norwegian Air Force

 

 South Africa

* South African Air Force

 

 Sweden

* Swedish Air Force (Operated by Svensk Flygtjanst under Air Force contract)

 

 Syria

* Syrian Air Force

 

 United Kingdom

* Royal Air Force

* No. 1 Squadron RAF
* No. 2 Squadron RAF
* No. 5 Squadron RAF
* No. 11 Squadron RAF
* No. 13 Squadron RAF
* No. 19 Squadron RAF
* No. 25 Squadron RAF
* No. 29 Squadron RAF
* No. 33 Squadron RAF
* No. 34 Squadron RAF
* No. 39 Squadron RAF
* No. 41 Squadron RAF
* No. 43 Squadron RAF
* No. 46 Squadron RAF
* No. 54 Squadron RAF
* No. 56 Squadron RAF
* No. 60 Squadron RAF
* No. 63 Squadron RAF
* No. 64 Squadron RAF
* No. 65 Squadron RAF
* No. 66 Squadron RAF
* No. 68 Squadron RAF
* No. 72 Squadron RAF
* No. 74 Squadron RAF
* No. 79 Squadron RAF
* No. 81 Squadron RAF
* No. 85 Squadron RAF
* No. 87 Squadron RAF
* No. 91 Squadron RAF
* No. 92 Squadron RAF
* No. 96 Squadron RAF
* No. 111 Squadron RAF
* No. 124 Squadron RAF
* No. 125 Squadron RAF
* No. 141 Squadron RAF
* No. 151 Squadron RAF
* No. 152 Squadron RAF
* No. 153 Squadron RAF
* No. 208 Squadron RAF
* No. 219 Squadron RAF
* No. 222 Squadron RAF
* No. 234 Squadron RAF
* No. 245 Squadron RAF
* No. 247 Squadron RAF
* No. 256 Squadron RAF
* No. 257 Squadron RAF
* No. 263 Squadron RAF
* No. 264 Squadron RAF
* No. 266 Squadron RAF
* No. 500 Squadron RAF
* No. 504 Squadron RAF
* No. 527 Squadron RAF
* No. 541 Squadron RAF
* No. 600 Squadron RAF
* No. 601 Squadron RAF
* No. 604 Squadron RAF
* No. 609 Squadron RAF
* No. 610 Squadron RAF
* No. 611 Squadron RAF
* No. 615 Squadron RAF
* No. 616 Squadron RA

 United States

* United States Army Air Force tested one aircraft and returned it to UK after tests.

Survivors

Although many Meteors survive in museums and collections, only five remain airworthy, four in the United Kingdom and an F 8 fighter (VH-MBX, Military S/N: VZ467) which was exported to Australia in 2001. The Temora Aviation Museum flies VH-MBX, currently in the colours of RAAF 77 Squadron, flown by Sgt. George Hale in Korea as "Halestorm."

A sixth airframe WA591 is under restoration to airworthiness by the UK based Meteor Flight at Yatesbury.

Two remain in service with Martin-Baker at Chalgrove Airfield as flying testbeds for the development of ejection seats. The company ran its first airborne ejection test using a F 3 on 14 June 1946 and received three T 7s in 1952 of which it retains WA638 and WL419.

Other Meteors on display:

* Meteor F 4 EE531, Midland Air Museum, Coventry. Second oldest Meteor in existence
* Meteor F 8 VZ477, Midland Air Museum, Coventry. Cockpit section open for viewing
* Meteor NF 14 WS838 Midland Air Museum, Coventry. Manufactured under licence by Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. On loan from RAF museum.
* Meteor F 8 F84452 FAB (Brazilian Air Force), CINDACTA II, Curitiba, Brazil. Displayed at the entrance of the complex.
* Meteor F8, WK685 / A77-867 Classic Jets Fighter Museum Parafield Airport, Parafield, South Australia. Upon cessation of hostilities in Korea returned to Australia and joined the newly reformed 77 Sqn. in Dec. 1955 before later conversion to instructional airframe status.
* Meteor F8, 1st wing historical Center, Beauvechain, Belgium

General characteristics

* Crew: 1
* Length: 41.24 ft (12.57 m)
* Wingspan: 43.01 ft (13.11 m)
* Height: 12.99 ft (3.96 m)
* Wing area: 350 ft (32.52 m)
* Empty weight: 8,139 lb (3,692 kg)
* Loaded weight: 13,819 lb (6,268 kg)
* Powerplant: 2¥ Rolls-Royce W.2B/23 Welland turbojets, 1,700 lbf (7.6 kN) each

 

Performance

* Maximum speed: 410 mph (660 km/h, Mach 0.55) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
* Range: 500 mi (800 km)
* Service ceiling 34,000 ft (11,500 m)
* Rate of climb: 2,155 ft/min (24.6 m/s)
* Wing loading: 44.9 lb/ft (149 kg/m)
* Thrust/weight: 0.45
* Time to altitude: 9.0 min to 30,000 ft (9,145 m)

 

Armament

* Guns: 4 x 20 mm British Hispano cannons
* Rockets: Provision for up to sixteen "60lb" 3 in rockets under outer wings


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