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Gloster Meteor

During the Second World War, the Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the only jet aircraft used by the Allies in combat operations.

Its development relied heavily on the pioneering turbojet engines of Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd, which had been in development since 1936.

Work on the aircraft itself began in 1940 and the Meteor took its first flight in 1943.

It started operations on 27 July 1944 with the RAF’s No. 616 Squadron.

Although not aerodynamically sophisticated, the Meteor proved to be a successful combat fighter.

The Meteor F.4 demonstrator G-AIDC, which was developed by Gloster in 1946, was the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world.

Several major variants of the Meteor were produced from the 1940s to the 1950s, incorporating technological advancements.

Thousands of Meteors were built for use in the RAF and other air forces, remaining in use for several decades.

The Meteor saw limited action in the Second World War, but Meteors of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fought in the Korean War.

Several other countries, such as Argentina, Egypt and Israel, used Meteors in later regional conflicts.

Specialised versions of the Meteor were developed for use in photographic aerial reconnaissance and as night fighters.

The Meteor was also used for research and development purposes and broke several aviation records.

In 1945, a Meteor F.3 set the first official airspeed record by a jet aircraft at 606 miles per hour (975 km/h).

This record was broken the following year when a Meteor F.4 reached a speed of 616 miles per hour (991 km/h).

Other records were broken for flight time endurance, rate of climb, and speed.

On 20 September 1945, a heavily modified Meteor I became the first turboprop aircraft to fly, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent turbine engines driving propellers.

In 1954, a specially adapted Gloster Meteor F8 Prone Pilot took its first flight.

This version placed the pilot into a prone position to counteract inertial forces.

In the 1950s, the Meteor became increasingly obsolete as more countries developed jet fighters, many with a swept wing instead of the Meteor’s conventional straight wing.

The RAF replaced the Meteor with newer types such as the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin.

The first operational version of the Meteor was the Meteor F.1, which was a straightforward militarisation of the earlier F9/40 prototypes, with minor airframe refinements.

The standard Meteor F.1 was 41 ft 3 in (12.57 m) long and had a span of 43 ft 0 in (13.11 m).

It had an empty weight of 8,140 lb (3,690 kg) and a maximum take-off weight of 13,795 lb (6,257 kg).

Despite its revolutionary turbojet propulsion, the Meteor’s design was relatively orthodox and did not take advantage of many aerodynamic features used on other later jet fighters, such as swept wings.

The Meteor was an all-metal aircraft with a tricycle undercarriage and conventional low, straight wings.

It had mid-mounted turbojet engines and a high-mounted tailplane clear of the jet exhaust.

The Meteor F.1 exhibited some problematic flying characteristics typical of early jet aircraft.

It suffered from stability problems at high transonic speeds, large trim changes, high stick forces, and self-sustained yaw instability (snaking) caused by airflow separation over the thick tail surfaces.

The longer fuselage of the Meteor T.7, a two-seater trainer, significantly reduced the aerodynamic instability that early Meteors were known for.

Later Meteor variants saw a large variety of changes from the initial Meteor F.1 introduced to service in 1944.

Much attention was given to raising the aircraft’s top speed, often by improving the airframe’s aerodynamic qualities, incorporating the latest engine developments, and increasing the strength of the airframe.

The Meteor F.8, which emerged in the late 1940s, was considered to have substantially improved performance over prior variants.

It was reportedly the most powerful single-seat aircraft flying in 1947, capable of ascending to 40,000 feet (12,000 m) within five minutes.


Gloster F.9/40 Prototypes

Eight built

The following planes were each powered by different jet engines and had their own unique first flight dates:
Plate Number 1 had two Rover W2B jet engines and first flew on July 24, 1943.
Plate Number 2 had two Power Jets W2/500 engines and first flew on November 9, 1943.
Plate Number 3 had two Metrovick F2 axial jet engines, which were mounted under the wing instead of traditionally, and first flew on November 13, 1943.
Plate Number 4 had two Rover W2B/23 jet engines and first flew on June 12, 1943.
Plate Number 5 had two Halford H1 jet engines and was the first to fly on March 5, 1943.
Plate Number 6 had two Halford H1 jet engines and first flew on July 24, 1945, serving as the prototype for the F.2 variant.
Plate Number 7 had two Rover W2B/23 engines and first flew on January 20, 1944.
Plate Number 8 had two Rover W2B/27 engines and first flew on April 18, 1944.

Meteor F.1

First production aircraft built between 1943 and 1944, 20 built.

Meteor F.1, Trent turboprop

This is the story of a unique aircraft, created from a former operational F.1 serial number EE227 of the 616 Squadron RAF.

This aircraft was transformed into a one-of-a-kind engine test bed for the Rolls-Royce Trent turboprop engine, making it the first turboprop-powered aircraft in the world.

To accommodate the initial 7 ft 7-inch Rotol airscrews, the undercarriage was lengthened to provide sufficient ground clearance.

After its first flight in September 1945, the aircraft was not publicly displayed until June 1946.

It was discovered that managing separate controls for thrust and constant speed units required a great deal of skill.

As a result, the aircraft was flown with higher engine thrust and smaller propellers to facilitate the development of a combined control system.

By 1948, the development program was completed successfully.

Meteor F.2

The F.9/40 prototype from de Haviland, equipped with two Halford H1 engines, was not put into production as an alternative engine version.

It was used for trials and testing purposes.

Meteor F.3

Derwent I powered, with sliding canopy. First flown 11 September 1944, 210 built (first 15 were Welland-powered).

Meteor F.4

The Royal Air Force had 535 Derwent 5 planes, with Gloster building 489 and Armstrong Whitworth constructing 46.

Additionally, the F.4 was exported to several other countries, including Argentina (50 planes), Belgium (48 planes), Denmark (20 planes), Egypt (12 planes), and the Netherlands (38 planes).

Meteor FR.5

This is a description of a specialized version of the F.4 fighter plane used for reconnaissance purposes.

It was equipped with vertical cameras in the nose as opposed to the usual four cannons, and oblique cameras in the fuselage.

Unfortunately, it was destroyed on its first flight on June 15th, 1949.

Meteor F.6

Proposed swept-wing variant of the F.4, not built.

Meteor T.7

The F.4 had a two-seat trainer version, with the company prototype first taking flight on March 19th, 1948.

A total of 640 F.4s were produced for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, with an additional 43 and 72 exported to countries such as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, France, Israel, and the Netherlands.

Meteor F.8

The F.4 has undergone significant improvements.

It now has a longer fuselage, greater fuel capacity, a standard ejection seat, and a modified tail that is derived from the E.1/44 model.

Gloster Meteor F8 Prone Pilot 

An experimental F.8 pilot aircraft, modified by Armstrong Whitworth, was used for jet deflection testing.

The aircraft, with the plate number 1, was a one-time use.

A Meteor F.8 jet was also used as a testbed.

Another F.8 aircraft, with the plate number 2, was modified with Rolls-Royce Nene engines placed forward of the wings and “deflection boxes” to direct jet exhaust downwards for jet-lift.

Meteor FR.9

Fighter armed reconnaissance version of the F.8, first flown 23 March 1950, 126 built by Gloster for the Royal Air Force.

Former RAF aircraft were later sold to Ecuador, Israel and Syria.

Meteor PR.10

Photo reconnaissance version of the F.8, first flown 29 March 1950, 59 built for the Royal Air Force.

Meteor NF.11

The Night Fighter variant equipped with Airborne Interception (AI) radar was created by Armstrong Whitworth.

It included three prototypes and was followed by the production of 311 aircraft for the Royal Air Force and 20 for the Royal Danish Air Force.

Meteor NF.12

Longer nosed version of the NF.11 with American AN/APS-21 radar, this was balanced by a slightly larger fin, first flown on 21 April 1953, 100 built by Armstrong Whitworth.

Meteor NF.13

A tropicalised version of the NF.11 was developed to replace the Mosquito NF.36 for service with 39 Squadron in Malta and Cyprus, as well as 219 Squadron based in Egypt.

Armstrong Whitworth built 40 production aircraft, with the first one successfully flown on December 21, 1952.

Meteor NF.14

The NF.11 featured a two-piece blown canopy instead of the previously heavy-framed version.

Additionally, it boasted a longer nose, resulting in a total length of 51 feet and 4 inches.

Meteor U.15

Target drone conversion of the F.4, 92 modified by Flight Refuelling Ltd.

Meteor U.16

Target drone conversion of the F.8, 108 modified by Flight Refuelling.

Meteor TT.20

Armstrong Whitworth converted 20 former Royal Air Force NF.11s into high-speed target towing for the Royal Navy.

Meteor U.21

Flight Refuelling converted the F.8 drones to be used by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Fairey Aviation of Australasia modified some of the aircraft in Australia using the modification kits provided by Flight Refuelling.

Ground Attack Fighter

The Reaper, also called the F.8, was a ground attack fighter modified by Gloster as a private venture.

It included external Rocket-Assisted Take-Off Gear (RATOG), a 57mm cannon in the lower fuselage, and tip tanks.

It was first flown on September 4, 1950, and only one was ever constructed.

Gloster CXP-1001

A single-engine version of the Meteor proposed by Gloster as a pursuit fighter for the Republic of China Air Force.

None were built.





44 ft 7 in (13.59 m)


37 ft 2 in (11.33 m)


13 ft 0 in (3.96 m)

Wing area

350 sq ft (33 m2)



EC (12.5)40/0640.



Empty weight

10,684 lb (4,846 kg)

Gross weight

15,700 lb (7,121 kg)


2 × Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 centrifugal flow turbojet engine

3,600 lbf (16 kN) thrust each.


Maximum speed

600 mph (970 km/h, 520 kn) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)

Maximum speed

Mach 0.82


600 mi (970 km, 520 nmi)

Service ceiling

43,000 ft (13,000 m)

Rate of climb

7,000 ft/min (36 m/s)

Time to altitude

30,000 ft (9,100 m) in 5 minutes

Wing loading

44.9 lb/sq ft (219 kg/m2)





4 × 20 mm Hispano MkV cannons


Provision for up to sixteen “60 lb” 3-inch rockets


Eight 5-inch HVAR rockets under outer wings


Two 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs

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