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Meteor file photo [149]

Meteor

CountryUnited Kingdom
ManufacturerGloster Aircraft Ltd
Primary RoleJet Fighter
Maiden Flight5 March 1943

Contributor:

ww2dbaseIn November 1940, Gloster Aircraft's design staff headed by Mr. W. George Carter was entrusted with the design of a single seat interceptor fighter to Air Ministry specification F.9/40, the first specification ever prepared in Britain for an operational jet aircraft. The result, which would become the Meteor, was the first jet aircraft to enter squadron service with the Royal Air Force, and the only Allied jet aircraft to see operational service during the Second World War.

ww2dbaseA conventional twin-engined layout was adopted for the new fighter from the outset, due to the absence of any single turbojet offering sufficient thrust to provide the required performance dictated by the Ministry's specification. On February 7, 1941 Lord Beaverbrook's Ministry of Aircraft Production placed an order for twelve prototypes (DG202-213 inclusive). Long before the first prototype had flown, Gloster Aircraft had received an initial production order. This order, placed in September 1941, called for twenty aircraft to which the name Thunderbolt was allocated. This name was officially changed to Meteor in March 1942 to avoid confusion with the American Republic P-47 (See Note 1). The Ministry simultaneously ordered the manufacture of jigs and tools for the production of the new fighter which, it was planned, would be built at the rate of eighty machines per month. In the event, only eight prototypes were completed, the first of these (DG202/G) commencing taxiing trials at RAF Newmarket Heath on July 3, 1942, powered by two de-rated Rover W.2B turbojets. These were non-flying engines producing 1,000 lb.s.t. After the completion of these ground trials, DG202/G was returned to Gloster Aircraft to await the delivery of the more powerful Power Jets W.2/500 turbojets. However because of production difficulties with these engines, Rover B.23s rated at 1,526 lb.s.t. were installed in their place, DG202/G eventually flew for the first time on July 24, 1943.

ww2dbaseIn the meantime, examples of the Halford H.1 turbojet rated at 1,500 lb.s.t. became available, and a pair of these were installed in the fifth prototype (DG206/G). This became the first Meteor to fly. Doing so at RAF Cranwell, on March 5, 1943.

ww2dbaseThe other Meteor prototypes were fitted and tested with a number of different turbojet powerplants.

ww2dbaseOf the twenty Meteor Mk.Is built (EE210-229 inclusive), only sixteen were actually delivered to the Royal Air Force (EE213-222 and EE 224-229), the others being retained for trials purposes. These were powered by 1,700 lb.s.t. Rolls-Royce W.2B/23 Welland I engines. One, the first production Meteor F.Is (EE210),in accordance with an agreement with the Americans, was shipped in 1944 to the U.S.A for evaluation by the Americans at Muroc Army Air Field (today Edwards Air Force Base), California, in exchange for a Bell YP-59A Airacomet. No.616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron, based at RAF Culmhead (6 miles south of Taunton Somerset), was selected to be the first RAF Squadron to re-equip with the Meteor, receiving its first two Meteors F.Is on July 21, 1944. These (EE213 and 214) were not fully operational and were employed for training purposes only, but six fully effective Meteors Mk.Is did reach the Squadron two days later allowing a detached flight of seven aircraft to move to RAF Manston (North Kent) to counter the German V-1 missile attacks on London and the South-East. On August 4th one of these (EE216) piloted by Flying Officer Dean scored the first confirmed victory by a British jet fighter. With his guns jammed, Dean managed to destroy a V-1 flying-bomb by tipping the missile over with his wingtip, and thus causing it to crash. On the same day, Flying Officer Roger shot down a second B-1 near Tenterden. In total RAF Meteors would account for the destruction of thirteen V-1s during the summer of 1944.

ww2dbaseBetween the 10-17th October 1944, four of the Squadron's Meteors were detached to RAF Debden (3 miles SE of Saffron Walden), to take part in an exercise with the United States Army Air Forces 2nd Bombardment Division and 65th Fighter Wing, to enable defensive tactics against the Luftwaffe's Me.163 and Me.262 fighters to be devised.

ww2dbaseThe Meteor II was a proposed production version powered by 2,700 lb.s.t. de Havilland Goblin I turbojets existed only one prototype and did not go into production. The next model, the Meteor F.III would become the first version to be manufactured in quantity for the RAF The first fifteen Welland-powered Meteor F.IIIs (EE230-244 inclusive) differed from the Mk I solely in having a sliding bubble canopy in place of the sideways-hinging canopy of the F.I, increased fuel capacity, and some airframe refinements. The sixteenth (EE245) and subsequent Meteor F.IIIs (195 machines) received 2,000 lb.s.t Rolls-Royce W.2B/37 Derwent I engines.

ww2dbaseThe first (Welland-powered) Meteor F.IIIs were delivered to No.616 Squadron at RAF Manston, on 18 December, 1944 and on the 17th January the Squadron moved to RAF Colerne, Wiltshire, where the Squadron's remaining F.Is were replaced. On the 20th January 1945, one flight of No. 616 Squadron joined No.84 Group of the 2nd T.A.F. at Nijmegen, Belgium. The Meteor's of this Flight being painted white overall in an unsuccessful attempt to draw the German Messerschmitt jets into combat. They undertook their first operational sortie on April 16, 1945. In March 1945 they were joined on the Continent by the Meteor F.IIIs of No.504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron, but sparse enemy aerial opposition resulted in the new jet aircraft being employed principally for ground attack, and the Meteor never had an opportunity to show its paces against the Luftwaffe's jet fighters.

ww2dbaseThe last fifteen F.III fighters had the lengthened engine nacelles which were adopted as standard for the Derwent V engines of the F.IV. One Meteor F.III (EE360) was fitted with 3,500 lb.s.t. Derwent V engines with which it flew in July 1945, as the prototype F.Mk.IV. Two hundred and eighty Meteor F.IIIs were produced (terminating with EE599) but the majority of these did not enter service until after the termination of hostilities.

ww2dbaseThe F.Mk.IV (first flight on 17 May 1945) had additional airframe strengthening and was the first variant of the Meteor to be equipped with a pressurised cockpit. F.IVs began reaching RAF Squadrons just prior to the ending of hostilities, but did not become operational until after the war (See Note 2).

ww2dbaseOn the 20 September 1945 a Meteor Mk.I was modified to be powered by with Rolls Royce Trent engines, thus becoming the first turboprop powered aircraft. This machine was converted back to standard Mk.I configuration in late 1948.

ww2dbaseThe Meteor remained in RAF service as a fighter until 1954 when it was replaced by the Hawker Hunter. Post War it was also adapted for the advanced trainer, photo-reconnaissance and night fighter (manufactured by Armstrong Whitworth) roles. Meteors were also widely exported during the late 1940s and early 1950s serving in a large number of foreign air forces. The Australians employed theirs operationally during the Korean War, as did the Israelis during the Suez crisis of 1956. Ecuador is thought to have been the last country to have employed the Meteor in front line service-finally retiring them in 1977.

ww2dbaseSources: The complete Book of Fighters (William Green and Gordon Swanborough, Salamandar 1994), Warplanes of the Second World War-Fighters Vol.2 (William Green, Macdonald, 1961), World Aircraft Information Files - Files 124 and 895 (Aerospace Publishing Periodical).

ww2dbaseNotes:

ww2dbase1. It is worth noting that the designation G.41 sometimes given as a Company Designation is in fact spurious, having been one of a sequence invented by Gloster's publicity Department in 1948.
2. I have seen it reported on some Internet sites that the F.Mk.IV entered service in 1947. This seems to contradict "World Aircraft Information Files" from which I obtained the information that Mk.IVs were being supplied in late 1945. I am open to correction on this if anyone can substantiate the facts.

Last Major Revision: Sep 2007

Meteor Timeline

7 Apr 1941 The Gloster E.28/39 jet powered prototype piloted by Chief Test Pilot P.E.G.Sayer commenced taxiing trials at Gloster's Hucclecote airfield in Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom.
8 Apr 1941 The Gloster E.28/39 jet powered prototype made a series of short hops along the Hucclecote airfield runway in Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom before being dismantled and moved by road to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, England where it was felt that the longer runway would be an advantage for flight tests.
5 Mar 1943 The first Gloster Meteor (DG206) aircraft made its maiden flight. The Meteor would go on to become the only turbojet powered Allied aircraft operational during the war.
21 Jul 1944 No. 616 Squadron RAF, equipped with Meteor Mk I jet fighters, was transferred to RAF Manston in southern England, United Kingdom.
27 Jul 1944 Meteor F.Mk I jet fighters of No. 616 Squadron based at Manston in Kent, England, United Kingdom performed their first V-1 intercept mission.

SPECIFICATIONS

Mk I
MachineryTwo Rolls Royce W.2B/23C Welland I turbojet engines rated at 1,700 lbf each
Armament4x20mm Hispano fixed forward firing cannon in the nose
Crew1
Span11.32 m
Length13.59 m
Height3.96 m
Wing Area34.74 m
Weight, Empty2,692 kg
Weight, Maximum6,257 kg
Speed, Maximum668 km/h
Service Ceiling12,190 m

Mk III
MachineryTwo Rolls Royce W.28/37 Derwent I turbojet engines rated at 2,000 lbf each
Armament4x20mm Hispano fixed forward firing cannon in the nose
Crew1
Span11.32 m
Length13.59 m
Height3.96 m
Wing Area34.74 m
Weight, Empty2,692 kg
Weight, Maximum6,257 kg
Speed, Maximum668 km/h
Service Ceiling12,190 m

F8
MachineryTwo Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet engines rated at 3,500 lbf each
Armament4x20mm Hispano fixed forward firing cannon in the nose, optional 16x60-lb rockets under wings
Crew1
Span11.32 m
Length13.59 m
Height3.96 m
Wing Area32.52 m
Weight, Empty4,846 kg
Weight, Loaded7,121 kg
Speed, Maximum965 km/h
Rate of Climb35.60 m/s
Service Ceiling13,100 m
Range, Normal965 km

F4
MachineryTwo Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet engines rated at 3,500 lbf each
Armament4x20mm Hispano fixed forward firing cannon in the nose
Crew1
Span11.32 m
Length13.59 m
Height3.96 m
Wing Area32.51 m
Weight, Empty5,090 kg
Weight, Loaded6,600 kg
Speed, Maximum930 km/h
Service Ceiling12,200 m
Range, Normal980 km

T7
MachineryTwo Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet engines rated at 3,500 lbf each
Armament4x20mm Hispano fixed forward firing cannon in the nose
Crew2
Span11.32 m
Length13.59 m
Height3.96 m
Wing Area32.51 m
Weight, Empty5,090 kg
Weight, Loaded6,600 kg
Speed, Maximum930 km/h
Service Ceiling12,200 m
Range, Normal980 km

Photographs

Meteor T.7 of No. 613 Squadron RAF at Ta




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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Hobilar says:
13 Sep 2007 06:09:36 AM

The first V-1 to be destroyed by a Meteor occurred near Tonbridge on the 4 August 1944 when FO Dean used his Meteor wingtip to roll one over into a spin. On the same day FO Roger shot down another near Tenterden. In total Meteors accounted for just thirteen V-1s, the bulk of which were brought down by AA fire (1460), Barrage Balloons (231) or conventional piston engine fighters (638 by Tempests, 428 by Mosquitos, 303 by Spitfire XIV, 232 by Mustangs, and 158 by slower fighters (Typhoons, Spitfire Vs, IXs or XII).
2. glen says:
27 Jul 2011 06:44:15 PM

What a pity that the Meteor never went into combat with the ME 262. I didn't know the last country to use Meteors in combat was Ecuador very interesting
3. Anonymous says:
7 Dec 2016 12:09:59 PM

I saw a Meteor fighter plane shot down a V1 Doddle Bug near Maidstone in 1944. It chased and caught up with the VI easily and shot it down. I saw a Spitfire on several occasions chasing a VI which took a while to catch
4. Anonymous says:
8 Jul 2019 10:06:36 AM

Pls note! meteor III used engines of ever greater power. best speed achieved was around 528mph. afterburning was being tested and gave an additional 700lbs of thrust . Ref crossbow papers

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Meteor T.7 of No. 613 Squadron RAF at Ta


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