Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1

on 4 August, one by tipping the ‘doodlebug’
out of control with the Meteor’s wing and the
second in a more conventional gun attack.
In total, 13 V-1s were destroyed by No 616
Squadron’s Meteors before the campaign
ended. The Meteor I was not long for service
and by December 1944, ‘616’ took on its first
Meteor IIIs, and had completely re-equipped
with this mark by the time of its deployment to
mainland Europe at the start of 1945.
Thus began many years of incremental
improvements to the RAF’s Meteor force,
a process that would see the type being
developed way beyond its original design
specifications. All but the first few Meteor IIIs,
soon known as F3s, were powered by the
Rolls-Royce Derwent engine, a more potent
development of the type’s original Welland. It
was with the F3 that the large-scale conversion
to jets of the RAF’s front-line force began. A still
greater advance came from May 1945 with the
Meteor F4, its Derwent 5 engines each offering
a substantial thrust increase to 3,500lb st and
the short-span clipped wings of most
production examples giving superior handling
and manoeuvrability.
Throughout its life, the Meteor remained
a very conventional aircraft in terms of its
construction, being a simple all-metal airframe
typical of the period. The Meteor had a
conventional low-mounted straight wing, on
which the engine nacelles were positioned
about a third of the way across the span.
By the time the Meteor F8 appeared, flying in
prototype form on 12 October 1948, Gloster’s
fighter was no longer at the cutting edge.
However, more of this mark (over 1,000) were
produced than any other. It was also the basis
Below: EE457 was one of the last production
Meteor F3s and featured extended engine
nacelles. Lack of squadron markings suggest
this image was taken prior to delivery.
of the FR9 for fighter-reconnaissance duties,
while from the T7 was derived a series of radar-
equipped two-seat night fighters, four marks
in all from NF11 to NF14, built not by Gloster
but Armstrong Whitworth between 1950 and

  1. With these, the design really reached the
    end of the line.
    As a front-line day fighter, the Meteor’s RAF
    career was over in April 1957, when No 245
    Squadron relinquished its F8s. However, the
    RAF wasn’t done with the Meteor, as examples
    of various marks were used for second-line
    duties right into the mid-1980s. This was a
    truly remarkable service career by a truly
    remarkable aircraft.

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