Photo by Airliners.net
The first allied jet fighter. Its combat use in WWII was limited
to intercepting V-1's. The Meteor was of conventional layout, with
engines in mid-wing nacelles, and it was capable of accepting many
types of engine. The flexible design allowed a long development
history after the war, and the Meteor introduced jet engines to
many airforces. A two-seat night fighter with a long radar nose
was developed by Armstrong Whitworth and entered service in 1950.
Around 3875 were built. The last nightfighter version was the NF.14,
a hundred of which were produced; they had an even longer fuselage
than that of the previous versions and a single piece, sliding canopy,
having flown for the first time on 18 March 1954. When they were
retired from the front-line squadrons in 1961, fourteen were modified
for navigators training, with the removal of the radar and of the
armament. Designated as NF(T) .14, they were used up to 1965 by the RAF.
Type: Meteor F Mk. III
Country: UK / England
Engines: 2 * 770 kg R.R. Welland
Wing Span: 13.10 m
Length: 12.57 m
Height: 3.96 m
Wing Area: 34.74 m2
Empty Weight: 4771 kg
Speed: 795 km/h
Ceiling: 13400 m
Range: 2160 km
Armament: 4*g20 mm
Type: Meteor F Mk.8
Engines: 2 * 1590 kg Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojets
Wing Span: 11.32 m
Length: 13.59 m
Height: 3.96 m
Wing Area: 32.51 m2
Empty Weight: 4846 kg
Max.Weight: 7122 kg
Speed: 962 km/h at 3050 m
Ceiling: 13400 m
Range: 965 km
Armament: 4*g 20 mm
Type: Meteor NF.11
Engines: 2 * 1590 kg R.R. Derwent 8
Wing Span: 13.11 m
Length: 14.78 m
Height: 4.24 m
Wing Area: 34.74 m2
Max.Weight: 8976 kg
Speed: 871 km/h
Ceiling: 43000 ft
Range: 1530 km
The Gloster Meteor was the first operational Allied jet fighter aircraft. First flying in 1943,
it entered combat in the late summer of 1944, sharing the title of the first operational jet with
the German Messerschmitt Me 262. The night fighter Meteors remained in service for many years
after the war. In early 1946 Gp Capt Teddy Donaldson broke the world speed record in a Meteor
IV EE549 at 616 mph TAS. Test pilot Roland Beamont had previously taken the same aircraft to
its compressibility limit at 632 mph, but not under official record condition and outside its
official safety limits.
Development began in November 1940 following the invention of the turbojet by Frank Whittle in 1929. Designed by George Carter of the Gloster Aircraft Company, eight prototypes were produced. Originally the aircraft was to have been named Thunderbolt, but confusion with the Republic P-47 led to a name change to Meteor.
The fifth prototype was the first Meteor to fly, when it made its first test flight on March 5, 1943, piloted by Michael Daunt. The prototypes were powered by two de Havilland Halford H.1 turbojets, but de Havilland reserved the production of these engines for its own de Havilland Vampire design.
For the production Meteor Mk. I the engine was switched to the Whittle W.2 design, by then taken over by Rolls-Royce. The current W.2B/23C turbojet engines produced 7.56 kN of thrust each, giving the plane a maximum speed of 417 mph (670 km/h) at 3,000 m, and had a range of 1,610 km. It was 12.5 m long with a span of 13.1 m, had an empty weight of 3,690 kg, and a maximum take-off weight of 6,260 kg. The construction was all-metal with conventional low straight wings, the turbojets were mid-mounted in the wings, and the tailplane was high-mounted to keep it clear of the jet exhaust. It was armed with four 20 mm Hispano cannons. Typical of early jet aircraft, the Meteor suffered from stability problems at high trans-sonic speeds. The aircraft experienced large trim changes, high stick forces, and self-sustained yaw instability (snaking) due to airflow separation over the thick tail surfaces.
The first aircraft were delivered to the Royal Air Force on June 1 to No. 616 Squadron, 1944 and one was also sent to the US in exchange for a Bell YP-59A Airacomet for comparative evaluation. No. 616's Meteor Mk. I's saw action for the first time on July 27, 1944 against the V1 Flying Bomb ultimately destroying 14 flying bombs. The Meteor never saw aerial combat against the Luftwaffe despite flying limited missions over Germany from January 1945, using the Mk. III variant from bases in Belgium.
- Meteor F.1 - First production aircraft built between 1943 and 1944.
- Meteor F.2 - Alternate engined version - only one built.
- Meteor F.3 - Derwent I powered with sliding canopy.
- Meteor F.4 - Derwent 5 powered with strengthened fuselage.
- Meteor FR.5 - One-off fighter reconnaissance version of the F4.
- Meteor T.7 - Two-seat trainer.
- Meteor F.8 - Long nosed version of the F4.
- Meteor FR.9 - Fighter reconnaissance version of the F8.
- Meteor PR.10 - Photo reconnaissance version of the F8.
- Meteor NF.11 - Night Fighter variant with Airborne Intercept radar.
- Meteor NF.12 - Longer nosed version of the NF11 with American radar.
- Meteor NF.13 - Tropicalised version of the NF11 for overseas service.
- Meteor NF.14 - NF11 with new two-piece canopy.
- Meteor U.15 - Drone conversion of the F4.
- Meteor U.16 - Drone conversion of the F8.
- Meteor TT.20 - high speed target towing conversion of the NF11
- Meteor U.21 - Drone conversion of the F8.