Gloster Meteor

Gloster Meteor jet fighter Photo by

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
Function: fighter
Year: 1944
Crew: 1
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
Function: fighter
Year: 1949
Crew: 1
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
Function: nightfighter
Year: 1950
Crew: 2
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
Empty Weight:
Max.Weight: 8976 kg
Speed: 871 km/h
Ceiling: 43000 ft
Range: 1530 km
Armament: 4*g20mm

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.


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