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Gloster F.9/40 / G.41 Meteor

 

glosmeteorf8
Meteor  F.8


Designed by George Carter, the Gloster Meteor began life in response to Specification F 9/40, which called for a single-seat interceptor. The jet engine was still very much in its infancy when this project got under way and the low thrust available from early powerplants of this type necessitated the adoption of twin-engine layout from the outset. Under the impetus of war, design progress was swift and was rewarded with a contract for 12 prototypes in February 1941, although only eight of these prototypes were eventully completed.


The eight original F.9/40 airframes were used to test several different types of British gas turbines including the Rover-built Power Jets W2B, the parent design of the Rolls-Royce Welland with which the Meteor I was fitted; the Metropolitan Vickers F.2/1, the first British axial-flow unit to fly (13 November 1943); the Halford H.1, the predecessor to the de Havilland Goblin; and the Rolls-Royce Trent, the first turboshaft engine to fly. Actually the 6530kg Halford-engined F.9/40 was the first version of the Meteor to fly (on 5 March 1943) as the W2B engines (4360kg) installed in another F.9/40 in July 1942 were not ready for flying until June 1943.


The eight prototypes built (DG202 - DG209) were used for both airframe and powerplant development trials. Due to difficulties with supplies of the first jet engines the first flights of the prototypes were spread over several years with the last of them flying after the first F.Mk I's were in service with the RAF.

Developmental aircraft -

DG202
First Flight: 24th July 1943
Rover W.2B/23 turbojets.

DG203
First Flight: November 1943
First flown in 1943 with two Power Jets W.2/500's. Its next flight was almost a year later in October 1944 with more powerful W.2/700's.

DG204
First Flight: 13th November 1943
Metropolitan-Vickers F.2, Axial-Flow turbojets, crashed 1st April 1944 after just 3 hours 9 minutes flying time.

DG205
First Flight: 12th June 1943
Rover W.2B/23's, second to fly.

DG206
First Flight: 5th March, 1943
First to fly. de Havilland Halford H.1 turbojets (2,700 lbs thrust).

DG207 (prototype Meteor Mk II)
First Flight: 24th July 1945
de Havilland H.1 Goblin, later became the prototype F. Mk II.

DG208
First Flight: 20th January 1944
First to be fitted with dive brakes and Rolls Royce W.2B/23 engines.
Modified fin and rudder

DG209
First Flight: 18th April 1944
Early version of W.2B/37 Derwent I.

Although the first flight of a Meteor was with the de Havillands turbojet, production Meteors were powered by engines developed by Rover and later Rolls-Royce W.2B/23 Welland 1 reverse-flow turbojets with centrifugal-flow compressors, with the de Havilland engines allocated entirely to Vampire production which entered service shortly after the end of WW II. Trials with the Metropolitan-Vickers engines also were not wasted despite being cut short by the crash of DG204 and plagued by early problems as the F.2 developed into the successful Beryl turbojet and led directly to the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire two of which were fitted to a Meteor making it the most powerful ever to fly.

The first of these began taxi trials with four types of engine in June 1942 but it was not until 5 March 1943 that the type took to the air for the first time, this maiden flight being made by the fifth prototype. By then, the Meteor had been ordered into production.


Only twenty Mk I's were built, sixteen of them serving with RAF. Two of the three prototype Mk I's EE211 & EE212 were delivered to RAE Farnborough for trials and design development, while the first EE210 (First flight 12th January 1944) was delivered to Muroc AFB in exchange for an example of the Bell X59 Airacomet.


The /G (guard at all times) and prototype designation on the fuselage are still carried by DG202 at Cosford today. EE211/G was the second production Meteor, an F.Mk 1. Armed with four 20-mm cannon andpowered by two Wellan d I turbojets, it could reach a speed of 668 km/h (415 mph). Meteors provided good training for American bomber crews now faced with attacks from Me 262s.

616 Squadron at Cultrihead took delivery of the next ten EE213 - EE222 and the four aircraft EE224 - EE227 in July 1944. The last two deliveries EE228 & EE229 being attrition replacements for EE224 & EE226 with the latter crashing just two days after delivery. The first took delivery of the Meteors at Culmhead on the 12th July 1944 moving shortly afterwards to Manston in Kent where they started operations against the V1 flying bombs. The squadron then moved to Manston were they would later take the Meteor into Europe although they were prohibited from flying over enemy lines because of the secrecy of the materials used in the engines. The earliest recorded combat successes were by Meteor F.1s, against V1 flying bombs on 4 August 1944. The squadron later moved to Belgium where it was joined by No. 504 Squadron with Meteor Mk III aircraft, also with Welland engines, but fitted with sliding hoods.


A Meteor was also used in the first tests of a ground level ejection seat.


The production Meteor F.1 was powered by two 7400kg Rolls-Royce Welland 1 turbojet engines and had a cockpit canopy that was side-hinged.

At RAE Farnborough EE211 was fitted with a pair of Powerjets W2/700's and long cord engine nacelles which improved its high speed performance while at Rolls Royce EE223 in addition to being the first Mk 1 to have a pressure cabin for high altitude flight was also fitted with the more powerful W2B/37 Derwent I's. The most interesting developmental Mk I was EE227, on its retirement by 616 Squadron in favour of the Meteor Mk III it became the world's first turboprop, powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Trent's.


The only Meteor F Mk II was the prototype based on DG207, also designated the G.41B it was powered by two DH Halford H.1 engines but did not enter production because its H1 engines (later known as the Goblin) were instead allocated to DH Vampire production following greater success with the W2/B Welland & Derwent designs after Rolls Royce became involved in engine production.

The first volume production version of the Meteor was the Mk III (G.41C) with a total of 210 aircraft built.


Similar to the MK I except for the new sliding Malcolm canopy and slotted airbrakes it had a strengthened airframe to absorb the additional power from the 2,000 lb thrust Derwent I engines. Due to production difficulties the first 15 had to make do with W.2B/23 Welland engines although some of these aircraft may have been retrofitted later once sufficient engines were available. These early aircraft almost all operated by 616 Squadron can be distinquished from the Derwent powered Meteors due to their slightly longer jet-pipe which protruded from the rear of the nacelle to a greater extent.

The Meteor F.Mk III saw operational service with 504 Squadron as well, being mainly employed in ground attack duties, but only a few of the 280 Meteor F.Mk IIIs built had entered service by VE-Day. Many of the first Meteor F. Mk III deliveries were painted white. This may have been an effort to prevent the Meteor from being mis-taken for a German jet, as was the only No.616 Sqn Meteor F. Mk 1 to be shot at in the first three months (by a Spitfire).


The standard engines were two 8720kg Rolls-Royce Derwent Is, although the first 15 Mk 3s were fitted with Wellands. Sliding cockpit hoods were standard and provision was made for a long-range fuselage drop tank. The last 15 F.3s were fitted with the lengthened engine nacelles standardised on the Mk 4.


Many F Mk III's were used in aviation research either directly from the Gloster production line or after squadron service including EE416 which went to Martin-Baker for ejection seat trials. Two others were fitted with strengthened undercarriage and a V Frame arrestor hook for deck landing trials on HMS Immplacable.


One of the thirty F Mk. III's allocated for tests and trials showed the benefit of increasing the chord (length) of the engine nacelles. With the longer nacelles there was less compressibility buffetting at high speeds leading to an increase in the redline speed at 30,000 ft of 75 mph. As a result of these tests the last fifteen F Mk. III's were delivered with longer nacelles. The increased power of the Derwent engine and this performance improvement led directly to the Meteor F4 and its successful attempt at the world absolute air speed record.

Two F Mk III's were evaluated by foreign air forces with Mk III, EE311 going to the RCAF although it didn't last long, running out of fuel and being ditched in June 1946. The second aircraft was operated for some years by the RNZAF. Re-serialled NZ6001 it was demonstrated throughout New Zealand from late in 1945 and eventually purchased for £5,000. It later became an instructional airframe and was scrapped in 1957.


In May 1946 a F.3 Meteor was taken on charge by the Royal Australian Air Force, becoming the first RAAF jet fighter. It was not until 1951 that Meteors entered regular service with the RAAF and then they did so with a true "baptism of fire". Meteor F.8 aircraft were taken into action by 77 Squadron RAAF, in Korea, against the Mig-15.

Production then switched to the Meteor F.Mk 4 with much more powerful engines, 583 being built between 1945 and 1950.The first example flying on 12 April 1945. Power was provided by two Derwent 5 engines and the wing span was reduced to 11.33m to improve the rate of roll. Other features included long engine nacelles, pressure cabin, and fittings for bombs and rocket projectiles. An aircraft of this version set up world speed records on 7 November 1945 and 7 September 1946, flown by Group Captain E. M. Donaldson, of 975km/h and 991km/h respectively. The private venture Meteor T.7 was a two-seat training version of the Mk 4, with the forward fuselage lengthened by 0.76m to accommodate tandem cockpits under a continuous canopy. No armament was carried. The first T.7 flew on 19 March 1948 and over 600 were built.

 

In the markings of the Brazilian Air Force, Meteor 7s were used in Britain to train Brazilian pilots. Brazil purchased 70 Meteor fighters and trainers.
 
Glos-Meteor-Brasil
Brazilian Gloster Meteor 7s

 

The F.8 was the most built of all Meteors with 1,522 being produced, first flown on 12 October 1948. The F.8 established international point-to-point records on London-Copenhagen, Copenhagen-London and London-Copenhagen-London in 1950 and in the following year set up a new international speed record over a 1,000km closed circuit of 822.2km/h


By 1950 the Meteor F.Mk 8 was well established in service, this model also being built under licence in Belgium and the Netherlands, embracing powerful Derwent engines, modified cockpit and canopy. 1090 F.8s were built.

 

001meteor

 

Other single-seater variants included the Meteor FR.Mk 9 fighter-reconnaissance version of the Mk 8, and Meteor PR.Mk 10 unarmed version for high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.

In addition to seeing widespread service as a day fighter, the Meteor also successfully adapted to night­-fighter tasks, albeit as a two-seater. The initial variant engaged in this mis­sion was the Meteor NF.Mk 11, the design of which was undertaken by Armstrong Whitworth was first flown in May 1950. The NF.11 had the longer span wing of the photo-reconnaissance Meteor, a lengthened nose to house the radar, tandem cockpits, and the tail of the F.8 day fighter. The four 20mm guns were transferred outboard of the nacelles. The NF.11 weighed about 14 ton at MAUW which included 700 gallons of fuel, two integral tanks of 375 gallons, an external ventral of 175 gallon, usually permanently fitted and two 100 gallon wing tanks. The NF.11 being succeeded by the Meteor NF.Mk 12 of April 1953 had a lengthened nose and improved radar, and a faired tail bullet which effectively increased fin area with a different radar, the NF.Mk 13 with tropical equipment, and the Meteor NF.Mk 14 was tested late in 1953 with a clear-vision canopyand other refinements.
 
Glost-Met-NF
 
The Meteor NF.14 Night Fighter was the last major development of the line. The NF.14 was a two-seat, twin-engined monoplane, powered by two Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojets, each delivering 3,600 lb thrust. The service ceiling was 40,000 feet and the maximum speed was 579 mph. Its range, with ventral and underwing tanks, was approximately 950 miles at altitude. A ventral fuel tank was normally carried and two under-wing tanks of 100 Imp.Gal. were optional.
Meteor night-fighters were used for experimental launching of guided missiles.
 
Night-fighter production by Armstrong Whitworth totalling 547 aircraft.

 

Production of night-fighter variants eventually totalled 578, some later being modified for target towing duty as the Meteor TT.Mk 20 whilst many single-seaters served as Meteor U.Mk 15, Meteor U.Mk 16 and Meteor U.Mk 21 drones developed by Flight Refuelling Ltd.

The Meteor proved a success and over a thousand of the new fighters were built to re-equip twenty Fighter Command squadrons and ten squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.


A total of 3,545 Meteors was produced by Gloster and Armstrong Whitworth., more than 1,100 of which were F.8s. Meteors were also exported in considerable numbers for service with the armed forces of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Israel, the Netherlands and Syria.

 

To investigate a prone piloting position a Meteor F.8 was converted by Armstrong Whitworth circa 1955 to feature a prone position in a special elongated nose. Aft is a normal cockpit with a safety pilot. The prone-pilot Meteor was flown extensively from Baginton and Farnborough.

 

To investigate a prone piloting position a Meteor F.8 was converted by Armstrong Whitworth circa 1955 to feature a prone position in a special elongated nose. Aft is a normal cockpit with a safety pilot. The prone-pilot Meteor was flown extensively from Baginton and Farnborough.

 

Gallery

 

G.41 Meteor F. I
Engines: two 771-kg (1,700-lb) thrust Rolls-Royce Welland 1 turbojets   
Maximum speed: 668 km/h (415 mph) at 3050 m (10,000ft)
Service ceiling: 12190 m (40,000 ft)
Empty weight: 3692 kg (8,140 lb)
Maximum take-off weight: 6257 kg (13,795 lb)
Wingspan: 13.11 m (43 ft 0 in)
Length: 12.57 m (41 ft 3 in)
Height: 3.96 m (13 ft 0 in.)
Wing area: 34.74 sq.m (374.0 sq ft)
Armament: four nose-mounted 20-mm Hispano cannon (provision for six)
Crew: 1

Gloster G. 41 Meteor F.I

Engines: 2 x Rolls Royce W.2B/23C Welland, 7564 N / 771 kp
Length: 41.24 ft / 12.57 m
Height: 12.992 ft / 3.96 m
Wingspan: 43.012 ft / 13.11 m
Wing area: 373.941 sq.ft / 34.74 sq.m
Max take off weight: 13796.7 lb / 6257.0 kg
Weight empty: 8140.9 lb / 3692.0 kg
Max. speed: 361 kts / 668 km/h
Service ceiling: 39993 ft / 12190 m
Wing loading: 36.9 lb/sq.ft / 180.0 kg/sq.m
Range: 1164 nm / 2156 km
Crew: 1
Armament: 4x 20mm MG

Meteor F.III
Engines: 2 x 2,000lb Rolls Royce Derwent IV Turbojets
Span: 43ft
Length: 41ft 3in.
MAUW: 14,750 lb
Maximum speed: 415mph at 30,000ft
Service Ceiling: 40,000ft
Rate of Climb: 3,300ft/min
Range: 510 miles
Armament: 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon

F.4
Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Welland, 1700 lb.
Wing span: 37 ft 2 in (11.33 m).
Length: 41 ft 4 in (12.6 m).
Height: 13 ft 0 in (3.96 m).
Max TO wt: 15,175 lb (6883 kg).
Max level speed: 585 mph ( 941 kph).  

F.8

Engines: 2 x 1633-kg (3,600-lb) thrust Rolls-Royce Derwent RD.8 turbojets.
Maximum speed 953 km/h (592 mph) at sea level
Initial climb rate 2134 m (7,000 ft) per minute
Service ceiling 13410 m (44,000 ft)
Range, clean 1110 km (690 miles)
Empty weight 4846 kg(10,684 lb)
Maximum take-off 7836 kg (17,275 lb)
Fuselage Tank Capacity: 330 Imp Gal / 1,500 lt / 396 U.S. Gallons
Ventral Tank Capacity : 175 Imperial Gallons / 796 Litres / 210 U.S.Gallons
Wingspan 11.33 m (37 ft 2 in)
Length 13.26 m (42 ft 6 in)
Height 4.22 m (13 ft l0 in)
Wingarea 32.52 sq.m (350 sq ft)
Armament: four 20-mm Hispano Mk V cannon / Two 1000lb (455 kg) bombs or eight 60 lb (27.3 kg) air to ground rockets.

NF.11
Engine: 2 x Rolls-Royce Derwent, 3500 lb.
Fuel cap: 375 internal (+375 external) Imp.Gal.
Armament: 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon.
Max speed: 520 kts (430 kts with wing  tanks).

 

Meteor NF.14
Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Dewent
Span: 43 ft
Length: 49 ft 11 in
MAUW: 20,000 lb approx
Max speed: 590 mph approx

 

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