Gloster Goral

Born in war, the immediate post-war period was both a time of optimism and frustration for the new born Royal Air Force. On the one hand, military aviation had been firmly established as an indispensable tool of war but the concept of an air arm independent of both army and navy was seen as an unnecessary expense in peacetime. Coupled with the tightening of the national purse, it meant that after 1918 the RAF had to fight for every penny from the government and make the most of everything they had not only keep the service viable but alive.

Airco DH.9AThroughout 1918, numerous companies were developing new and more advanced aircraft ready for the front in 1919 but the armistice on November 11th 1918 saw many of these projects curtailed. The RAF were thus left to operate the best picks of their wartime inventory from 1918 among them of which was the Airco DH.9A. The DH.9A was an excellent light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft and when its performance is compared to the Avro 504s and Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2s that the Royal Flying Corps went to war with in 1914 it becomes strikingly clear how quickly military aviation advanced in just four years of fighting.

Peace in Europe however did not translate in to world peace and the RAF went back to war almost immediately supporting the anti-Bolshevik “White” Russians in the Russian Civil War. The RAF also flew intensive operations policing the British Empire which now included former Ottoman Empire territories that were resentful of their new British masters. The DH.9A proved adept in these theatres being rugged and reliable but over time it became clear that they needed replacing and in the mid-1920s the RAF began to seriously look at its options. Under Air Specification 26/27, the RAF told Britain’s aircraft manufacturers that in order to reduce costs the winning design would have to make the maximum use of DH.9A parts that were readily available. Emphasis would also have to be placed on suitability for policing the Empire with all the harsh and primitive operational environments that entailed. With the relative drying up of government orders in the 1920s, the aircraft manufacturers were quick to respond to the specification. Eight companies drew up plans for an aircraft to meet the RAF’s requirements including Bristol, de Havilland, Fairey Aviation, Gloster, Vickers and Westland.

The Gloster submission was headed up by two well respected aircraft designers namely Captain S. J. Waters who had previously worked for Fairey and H. P. Folland who had worked for the Sopwith company during the war. The resulting design was essentially the mating of a new oval-shaped, all-metal frame, fabric-covered fuselage with the wings from a DH.9A. Careful consideration was given to the need to make repairs in the field and so the aircraft was designed to allow key metal components to be replaced with wooden ones should the need arise. In theory, the aircraft could have been manufactured with an all-wooden frame and this was offered as an option to potential export customers. The fuselage was essentially built in three whole main sections that could be quickly separated if the aircraft needed to be transported by sea or rail and then reassembled relatively quickly. With humidity being a constant problem in parts of the Empire such as India a great deal of rust proofing was incorporated in to the frame.

Gloster Goral J8673 Bristol Jupiter

The aircraft had a crew of two with the pilot sat under the wing trailing edge with a cutout above his head for vertical visibility. The gunner/observer sat behind him in a position raised several inches higher and had a single 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis machine gun mounted on a ring to provide defensive firepower and to complement the pilot’s own 0.303 Vickers machine that was synchronised to fire through the propeller arc. The aircraft had provision for carrying a variety of light bomb configurations up to 460lbs total.

The Air Ministry specification had originally highlighted the Napier Lion 12-cylinder ‘broad arrow’ W12 engine as the preferred choice to power the winning design because it was readily available. Developed for military purposes in 1917, it was the most powerful Allied aeroengine when it entered service and had seen considerable use in civilian and racing circles. However, Gloster defied this requirement and went with the newer and more advanced Bristol Jupiter series of radial engines. They had briefly considered the even more complex Siddeley Jaguar 14-cylinder, two-row radial engine but this was seen as too risky to propose to the conservative RAF. The Jupiter was a nine-cylinder, single-row, air-cooled radial engine that despite having a lengthy development period that even saw its original manufacturer, Cosmos Engineering, go bankrupt had developed in to a fine powerplant that was seeing increasing use in both military and civilian aircraft. Gloster was not alone in this choice with Bristol themselves and more notably Westland selecting this engine for their own similar aircraft.

As construction of the first prototype was nearing completion it was fitted with the Jupiter VIA which developed 425hp and drove a two-bladed propeller 12ft in diameter. The prototype was given the serial J-8673 and was christened the Goral after a type of mountain goat found in northern India which reflected its planned use to police the Empire. The prototype took to the air for the first time on February 8th 1927 and once it was proven airworthy it was handed over to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath for evaluation. Over the coming months, it was joined by other contenders for Air Specification 26/27 including Westland’s design which had been christened the Wapiti. The prototype was returned to Gloster at least twice to have the design tweaked and the engine replaced with the more powerful Jupiter VIIIF that churned out 480hp but it was to no avail and the Wapiti was declared the winner.

Gloster Goral J8673 Bristol Jupiter A&AEE

Compared to the Wapiti the Goral was faster, had a greater service ceiling and a longer range while the Wapiti had a marginally higher bomb load. However, where the Wapiti won was that it shared a much higher degree of commonality with the DH.9A which was one of the key points of the Air Ministry’s specification in the first place. Westland had a distinct advantage over the competition in that they had produced DH.9As under license and were far more familiar with it. In October 1927, the Air Ministry placed an initial order for 25 Wapitis confirming that the Goral had no future with the RAF but Gloster kept the aircraft on the books hoping to attract foreign interest.

Despite some passing enquiries, nothing really materialised until 1931 when an Argentinian purchasing commission which had set up an office in Brussels sent a request for information on the aircraft to Gloster. The commission confirmed their interest but expressed concerns that the aircraft was unsafe and believed this was why the Air Ministry had rejected it. The Air Ministry responded by sending the Argentinians a detailed letter outlining that the aircraft was not only safe but well suited to the Argentinian requirements. Unfortunately, the Argentinians didn’t resply to the letter and a short while later they placed an order with France for the Breguet Br.19; an aircraft of similar performance and configuration.

Thus the Goral was lost to history.

SPECIFICATION

Gloster Goral

  • Role: Two seat light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft
  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 31ft 6in (9.4m)
  • Wingspan: 46ft 7in (14.19m)
  • Height: 11ft 4in (3.3m)
  • Empty weight: 2,796lbs (1,268kg)
  • Gross weight: 4,441lbs (2,014 kg)
  • Powerplant(s):
    (i) 1 × Bristol Jupiter VIA 9-cylinder radial (425hp)
    (ii) 1 x Bristol Jupiter VIIIF 9-cylinder radial (480hp)
  • Maximum speed: at 5,000ft (1,524 m) 136mph (218km/h)
  • Maximum Range: 750 miles (1,207 km)
  • Service ceiling: 21,500ft (6,552m)
  • Armament:
    1× synchronised forward firing 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun
    1× 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun mounted on ring in gunner’s cockpit
    Up to 460lbs of bombs
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Gloster Gamecock J7904 at the Jet Age Museum

The Gloster Gamecock first flew in 1925 and was the RAF’s last wooden fighter. No complete Gamecock survives but the Jet Age Museum’s reproduction Gamecock I is nearing completion. Work has been carried out on the reproduction at the Tithe Barn Centre in Brockworth, not far from the site of the former Gloster Aircraft Company’s factory-airfield. Rear fuselage sections of two Finnish-built Gamecocks survive in museums in Finland, but apart from a handful of components that is all.

A few compromises have been made – the rigging wires are circular rather than streamline section due to cost, and plywood is used instead of asbestos for the firewall – but otherwise it is pretty much spot on. The engine is on loan from the RAF Museum and was reconditioned by Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. The propeller is original, as are one interplane strut and two inter-aileron struts, one of them restored after it had been sharpened as a fence post.

The Gamecock reproduction is being finished as J7904 of 43 Squadron as flown by the squadron commander, complete with black and white chequers on the rear fuselage spine.

History: The Jet Age Museum
Photos: Tony Wilkins


Gloster E28/39 at the Jet Age Museum

A collection of pictures of the Gloster E28/39 replica on display at the Jet Age Museum in Gloucestershire.
History: The Jet Age Museum
Photos: Tony Wilkins


Powered by inventor Frank Whittle’s first jet engine the E28/39 was designed and built by the Gloster Aircraft Company. Its official first flight was at RAF Cranwell on 15 May 1941, but it had already left the ground during taxiing trials at Gloster’s Brockworth airfield on 8 April. The E28/39 at the Jet Age Museum is a full-size fibreglass model, assembled from mouldings produced by the Sir Frank Whittle Commemorative Group and paid for by the Reactionaries – former colleagues of Whittle – and a generous grant from Tewkesbury Borough Council.

Gloster Javelin FAW.9 XH903 at the Jet Age Museum

A collection of pictures of Gloster Javelin FAW.9 XH903 on display at the Jet Age Museum in Gloucestershire.
History: The Jet Age Museum
Photos: Tony Wilkins


XH903 was the 65th of 85 Javelin FAW7s built by the Gloster Aircraft Company under contract Acft/11329/CB7(b) of 19 October 1954. It was completed in early 1959 and was delivered from the Gloster factory at Hucclecote on 27 February to RAF St Athan. After service acceptance checks with 19 MU it was assigned to 23 Squadron at RAF Coltishall and detached to RAF Horsham St Faith on 1 May.

XH903 came back to Gloster’s Moreton Valence factory on 1 June 1960 for changes to systems and equipment and replacing the Sapphire Sa7 engines with the reheated Sa7R . Now completed as a Javelin FAW9, it was delivered to St Athan on 5 January 1961 and on 14 February to 33 Squadron at RAF Middleton St George. Ten days later it went to RAF Leuchars on loan to 29 Squadron, returning to 33 Squadron on 3 March.

In October 1962, 5 Squadron, then flying the Javelin FAW5, began to convert to the FAW9 variant and took on charge most of 33 Squadron’s aircraft, including XH 903. Re-equipment was completed by 21 November and coincided with the Squadron’s move from RAF Laarbruch to RAF Geilenkirchen and assignment to 2 ATAF, XH 903 gaining the code “G” at this time.The aircraft flew with 5 Squadron until 20 September 1963 when it suffered a Cat3 accident. This resulted in its withdrawal from use until repairs were completed , the aircraft returning to 5 Sqn on 10 April 1964.

On 7 October 1965 5 Squadron disbanded as a Javelin unit and XH903 was flown to 27 MU at RAF Shawbury on 15 October for storage. It was struck off charge on 2 December 1966 and allocated to RAF Innsworth for display on 23 August 1967, receiving the maintenance serial 7938M.

Gloster Meteor (Reconnaissance Variants)

PR10

Despite the pace at which jet technology progressed in the immediate post-war years the RAF’s first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, remained quite a potent aircraft until the dawn of the 1950s when swept wing fighters took centre stage rendering it obsolete. With the vast majority of the world’s fighter aircraft still piston powered or subsonic jets, the Meteor with its relatively high speed and altitude performance was a logical platform for a reconnaissance aircraft to replace the wartime Supermarine Spitfire and De Havilland Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft.

There were several attempts to fit cameras in to the early variants of the Meteor but most of these came to nothing. One of the more promising was the Meteor FR.5 based on the Meteor F.4 but despite a prototype being built it was not pursued because advances in foreign jet technology were about to make the F.4 inadequate. However in 1948 the Meteor F.8 emerged powered by two Derwent 8 engines each producing 3,500lbs of thrust which gave the aircraft sufficient power to comfortably reach speeds in excess of 600mph and it was this airframe that was chosen as the basis for the first reconnaissance Meteor.


Meteor FR.9

Meteor FR9

The Meteor FR.9 was a minimum change approach to the requirement for a reconnaissance Meteor. A new nose section was designed that featured three observation windows (forward, port oblique and starboard oblique) for a single Williamson F24 camera. The F.24 was a proven reconnaissance system having been used operationally in the war by the Spitfires the Meteor was replacing. The camera was most effective in the low altitude role as its 5″ x 5″ format didn’t allow for the production of detailed enough photographs of wide areas as is required with the high altitude role. With only one camera onboard the Meteor’s F24 had to be ground aligned to the relevant window before take-off and this necessitated an extra amount of planning for missions to ensure that when the aircraft overflew the target the correct window was facing the area of interest.

Other than the camera installation the FR.9 was essentially a Meteor F.8 going as far as to retain the fighter’s four Hispano V 20mm cannons (these were sometimes faired over and the ammunition removed to squeeze an extra few miles an hour out of the aircraft). Just how similar the two versions were was highlighted by the Israelis who acquired a handful of second hand FR.9s and removed the camera equipment and windows to make more F.8s. The first of 126 Meteor FR.9s flew on the 22nd March 1950 and deliveries began in July of that year to No.208 Squadron based in Egypt protecting the Suez Canal. Meteor FR.9s primarily served in West Germany however in the low level reconnaissance role before being completely replaced by Supermarine Swifts by 1961.

  • Powerplant: 2x Derwent 8 (3,500lbs thrust each)
  • Max Speed: 592mph
  • Service Ceiling: 43,000ft
  • Length: 44ft 7in (13.59m)
  • Wingspan: 37ft 2in (11.32m)
  • Armament: 4x 20mm Hispano V cannons

Meteor PR.10

meteor_pr10_1a

The next chapter in the story of the reconnaissance Meteors was the high altitude PR.10. Like the FR.9 the PR.10 was based on the Meteor F.8 but differed in two key areas; it was fitted with the longer span wings of the Meteor F.3 while the tail unit was taken from the Meteor F.4. Both of these features were included to improve high altitude performance and stability while the more powerful Meteor F.8’s Derwent 8 engines were retained as was the F.24 camera installation of the Meteor FR.9 making the PR.10 the Frankenstein of the Gloster Meteor family. In an effort to lighten the aircraft as much as possible to gain the maximum altitude the guns were deleted and the aircraft were unpainted save for the national markings and serial numbers (a fully painted MD-80 airliner for example has a staggering 155lbs of paint on it). All these efforts resulted in the PR.10 being able to achieve an altitude in excess of 47,000ft compared to the F.8/FR.9’s service ceiling of 43,000ft.

As the F.24 camera was more suited to low-to-medium level operations the Meteor PR.10 had two F.52 cameras in the rear fuselage for high altitude work. These were positioned in the ventral position to cover large areas below the aircraft and for this purpose produced larger photographs (8.5″x 7″) than the F.24 despite having a similar working mechanism.

Squadron deliveries of the PR.10 began in December 1950 and production totalled 59 airframes. In 1951 the aircraft were first flown in West Germany and during this time the aircraft took part in a number of provocative cross border flights that were only stopped when the Soviets began deploying the MiG-19 “Farmer” to intercept them. Even after this development the Meteor PR.10s continued to fly at the very edge of the border between East and West Germany photographing Warsaw Pact forces on the other side of the Iron Curtain until they were replaced by the superlative Canberra PR.9 in 1961.

  • Powerplant: 2x Derwent 8 (3,500lbs thrust each)
  • Max Speed: 541mph
  • Service Ceiling: 47,000ft
  • Length: 44ft 7in (13.59m)
  • Wingspan: 39ft 11in (12.18m)
  • Armament: None

Armstrong-Whitworth (Gloster) Meteor Night Fighters

NF14

In the immediate post-war period the RAF took very little interest in night fighter development. With the Luftwaffe destroyed and the lack of any credible night bomber threat from Eastern Europe the proven wartime De Havilland Mosquito force remained the RAF’s primary means of night bomber interception. Development of a jet powered night fighter was for the moment delayed until such a time a requirement was deemed necessary and the infantile technology had caught up to compensate for the weight penalty the night fighting equipment imposed.

TU4

Tu-4 “Bull”

Then on August 3rd 1947 military observers in Moscow were stunned to see what appeared to be B-29 Superfortresses taking part in the Aviation Day parade. In reality these were reverse engineered B-29s built as the Tupolev Tu-4 “Bull” and they caused a lot of concern in the west for it showed that the Soviets now had a genuine strategic bomber with very high speed and altitude performance. The west would later discover that the Tu-4 was inferior to the B-29 but nevertheless it allowed the Soviet aviation industry to leap-frog ahead and the technological lessons learned from the Tu-4 would be put in to more advanced designs later (in fact the Tu-16 “Badger” and the mighty Tu-95″ Bear both owe a lot of their fuselage design to the B-29/Tu-4). With the blockade of Berlin a year later and the start of the Cold War a confrontation with the Soviet Union was looking increasingly likely. If that happened the RAF’s Mosquito night fighters would prove inadequate against the Tu-4 and with more powerful jet engines now available it was decided to proceed with development of jet night fighters.

De Havilland Vampire NF.10

De Havilland Vampire NF.10

The RAF was not the first air force to contemplate using jet night fighters. The wartime Luftwaffe tested their advanced Messerschmitt Me 262 in the night fighter role producing the Me 262B-1a/U-1 and these scored a handful of kills against RAF night bombers. In the late 1940s the RAF decided that an interim jet powered night fighter based on the jets already in service should be developed pending the development and introduction of a dedicated new aircraft. The De Havilland company had already produced a jet powered night fighter by mating the radar, equipment and cockpit from the Mosquito to a Vampire airframe. This produced the Vampire NF.10 which was primarily for the export market but with an embargo in place against its main customer, Egypt, the RAF decided to take them on and this became the first operational RAF jet night fighter in 1951. The RAF was not overly impressed by it however and it was seen as a short term solution until a more powerful jet powered Gloster Meteor could be produced in sufficient numbers. This actually put the Vampire NF.10 in the unenviable position of being an interim aircraft until the “interim night fighter”, the Meteor, became available.

Meteor T.7

Meteor T.7

Gloster had begun work on a night fighter version of the Meteor as far back as 1946 when the RAF issued specification F44/46 calling for studies in to future night fighter designs. The natural starting point was the Meteor T.7 trainer as this already had provision for a second crewmember. When the RAF became serious about producing a jet night fighter Gloster decided that they were going to start from scratch with a new design that ultimately lead to the Gloster Javelin all-weather fighter series but the RAF needed a powerful night fighter in the interim and so Armstrong-Whitworth were commissioned to produce the Meteor night fighter. Armstrong-Whitworth had extensive experience building Meteors under a sub-contract with Gloster and so the tooling was largely in place. Gloster handed over their own studies and provided them with an early Meteor T.7 to serve as the prototype.


Meteor NF.11

Meteor NF11

To produce the NF.11 the T.7 was modified with an enlarged and lengthened nose to house the AI.10 radar set. This was the same radar set that had guided De Havilland Mosquitoes against the German Luftwaffe in World War Two and was essentially an American SCR-720 set developed for the Northrop P-61 Black Widow. The radar antenna spun around on its vertical axis through an entire 360 degrees 10 times every second while at the same time it slowly nodded up and down to provide altitude coverage between +50 and -20 degrees. This provided the observer with a 150 degree scan in front of the aircraft which produced a c-shaped image on his screen due to the transmitter switching off when it was pointed back towards the aircraft. In order to fit the motor that drove the scanner assembly a small bump under the nose was required and this became one of the distinguishing features of this variant. This set had a range of almost 10 miles against a bomber sized target when atmospheric conditions were good.

The radar and accompanying equipment in the rear cockpit added almost 3,000lbs to the weight of the aircraft and this required structural and aerodynamic changes to compensate. The wings were modified to feature the longer outer wings of the high altitude PR.10 variant. The original Meteor day fighters had four 20mm cannons in the nose but the fitting of the radar made it almost impossible to retain the guns here and so they were relocated to the wings just passed engines; a major modification as it meant the access doors had to be designed to help take the stress of high speed flight. The NF.11 had four Hispano V 20mm cannons each with 160 rounds of ammunition. One of the last features added to the aircraft was the fitting of a Meteor F.8 tail which was more streamlined than the T.7.

The modified T.7 prototype first flew in 1949 albeit without radar. The first full NF.11 flew on May 31st 1950 and the RAF was suitably impressed to order 200 examples with service entry beginning in 1951. Pilots transitioning from Mosquitoes were pleased with their new mount which offered height and speed advantages over their wartime aircraft. Pilots coming from day fighter Meteor squadrons were not so impressed however. The aircraft was significantly slower with its Derwent 8 engines taking it to just 578mph compared to the Meteor F.8 which topped out at 616mph. It was nevertheless capable for intercepting the Tu-4 which was seen as its main quarry and so the speed criticism was largely irrelevant.

One thing that was retained from the T.7 that was universally loathed by aircrew, groundcrew and enthusiasts alike was the heavily framed canopy. This was an exceptionally heavy component for its purpose that was awkward to handle and restricted the view outside the cockpit. It’s strange that Gloster adopted this design and no doubt newly qualified pilots were amazed at the view the actual fighter version afforded them after qualifying in the trainer.Gloster Meteor Fireflash NF.11 A Meteor NF.11 conducted the first launch of a British air-to-air missile in 1951 when a modified example fired the first Fairey Fireflash missile.

  • Powerplant: 2x Derwent 8 (3,700lbs thrust each)
  • Max Speed: 541mph
  • Service Ceiling: 40,000ft
  • Length: 49ft 7in (15.09m)
  • Wingspan: 39ft 11in (12.18m)
  • Armament: 4x 20mm Hispano V cannons

Meteor NF.12 

Meteor NF12

As the NF.11 was solidifying itself in service work was underway on a more capable version that featured an Anglicised version of the American APQ-43 radar in an even longer nose. Known as the AI.21 in British service this radar featured a 200kW transmitter gave a range of up to as much as 25 miles (40 km) when conditions permitted. It also included various beacon homing modes, as well as an air-to-surface mode for detecting ships. The Mk.21 differed from its APQ-43 forebear in that it was fitted with a British strobe unit and had variable pulse repetition frequency settings.

To help address the balance issues that resulted from this the tail was given a noticeable extension that had an almost crooked appearance. The new radar offered much improved signal processing over the AI.10 installed in the NF.11 but it was never able to supersede the older model and only 97 were built. To help compensate for the marginal weight increase more powerful Derwent 9 engines were fitted that produced a mere 100lbs of extra thrust each. The NF.12 entered service with the RAF in 1953.

  • Powerplant: 2x Derwent 9 (3,800lbs thrust each)
  • Max Speed: 541mph
  • Service Ceiling: 40,000ft
  • Length: 49ft 7in (15.09m)
  • Wingspan: 39ft 11in (12.18m)
  • Armament: 4x 20mm Hispano V cannons

Meteor NF.13 

The Meteor NF.13 also appeared in 1953 and was essentially a tropicalised version of the NF.11 for use by the Middle East Air Force. In the 1950s the RAF still had huge commitments in the region and with the Soviet Union taking more of an interest in supporting Marxist and anti-western uprisings the need for modern jet night fighters became more evident. The NF.13 was produced by the fitting of enlarged intakes for the Derwent 8 engines that helped compensate for the ambient heat in places such as Aden that reduced thrust in jet aircraft. The aircraft were also fitted with a radio compass to help with navigation over large featureless deserts and to improve crew comfort a cold air unit was fitted that blew cool air in to the cockpit. Forty examples of this version were delivered to the MEAF and they would serve in the Suez War in 1956.


Meteor NF.14

Meteor NF14

The Meteor NF.14 was the definitive night fighter variant of the Meteor. Effectively an updated NF.12 the aircraft finally dispensed with the loathed heavily framed canopy inherited from its Meteor T.7 forebear. Instead a “full blown” two piece canopy was developed that afforded the crew a superb view of the outside world. As well as saving a few pounds in weight and being easier to handle the new canopy was intended to help the crew spot their targets at night and observe their tracer fire more effectively to allow them to make corrections if needed. The aircraft retained the Anglicized APQ-43 radar set designated as the AI.21 from the NF.12.

Despite efforts to save weight the aircraft was at the end of its development life and the Derwent 9 engines couldn’t propel it any faster than 576mph under the best of conditions. By the time the NF.14 was making its presence known in frontline squadron service the Soviets were deploying the Tu-16 “Badger” bomber which was almost 70mph faster than the Meteor making interception nearly impossible. This fact served to spur on development of the Javelin and from 1954 the Meteor night fighter squadrons began to disband and re-equip with new types. The first models to go were the NF.11s which were drawn down between 1954 and 1955 followed by the tropicalized NF.13 variant which left frontline service in 1958. Strangely, two Meteor NF.11 squadrons found a new (albeit short) lease of life in the coastal defence role strafing surface vessels. In the remaining years the aircraft had left it primarily served abroad in areas where the threat level was not as sophisticated as in Europe such as the Far East although night fighter Meteors remained in Germany until 1960.

No.60 Squadron was the last Meteor night fighter squadron, disbanding at RAF Seletar, Singapore in 1961. It therefore also holds the accolade of being the last frontline Meteor fighter squadron in RAF service. In 1969 the Biafran government attempted to smuggle two Meteor NF.14s to the African breakaway republic to help in its war against Nigeria but the effort failed when one crashed in to the sea on its delivery flight while the other was impounded at Bissau in Portuguese Guinea.

  • Powerplant: 2x Derwent 8 (3,700lbs thrust each)
  • Max Speed: 576mph
  • Service Ceiling: 40,000ft
  • Length: 49ft 7in (15.09m)
  • Wingspan: 39ft 11in (12.18m)
  • Armament: 4x 20mm Hispano V cannons

Gloster Javelin

FAW9r

The Gloster Javelin was a tailed delta winged all-weather fighter that served in the Royal Air Force from 1956 to 1968. It emerged as a result of Operational Requirement OR.227 which outlined the performance the aircraft was to have. It was to be capable of achieving 525 knots in level flight at an altitude of 40,000ft and would feature a radar set from the outset (most nightfighters to that point had radar fitted later such as the Gloster Meteor). Armament comprised of the standard quadruple 30mm cannons which was how nearly all fighters in the RAF were equipped towards the end of the war as this was seen as being the best balance between hitting power and weight considerations. More revolutionary however was the equipping of four air-to-air missiles.

Gloster produced a delta winged design which was becoming quite fashionable in the West in the late 1940s thanks in no small part to captured German technology. Very quickly Gloster realized that their new aircraft was going to be a heavy design and this saw the engines changed from Rolls-Royce Avons to Rolls-Royce Sapphires. The prototype aircraft called the GA.5 first flew on November 26th 1951 but testing proved extremely troublesome with severe vibration troubles as a result of the hight T-tail. This would be an ongoing problem the engineers at Gloster would have to address but not before the death of one of the test pilots. Gloster pressed on however and when the RAF settled on the design the aircraft entered service in 1956. Nevertheless the aircraft was continually developed throughout its life as experience grew.


VARIANTS
Apart from the trainer variant all fighter versions of the Javelin had the designation FAW (Fighter All Weather).

FAW.1
JavFAW1
The original production version was powered by Sapphire Sa.6 engines rated at 8,000 lbf (35.6 kN thrust) each. Radar came in the form of the British AI.17 that could be used to train the four 30 mm ADEN cannons in the wings. The tailplane was electrically-operated but this proved unsatisfactory. 40 were produced to this standard but because many of the aircraft’s handling problems had not yet been ironed out they were flown under a plethora of restrictions.

FAW.2
JavFAW2
The FAW.2 saw the replacement of the British AI.17 radar with the more capable AI-22 (the British version of the American APQ-43 system). The fitting of the new radar required the nosecone to be enlarged giving the new version a tubbier look at the front. Power to the tail was now hydraulic and a total of 30 were manufactured.

T 3
JavT3

With there being no real training aircraft capable of simulating the new sophisticated aircraft a dual-control trainer version was produced. This dispensed with the radar and included a bulged canopy for improved instructor visibility. The loss of the radar seriously upset the balance of the aircraft necessitating a lengthened fuselage and all moving tailplane to compensate. The aircraft retained the four cannons as its primary armament but had to be trained in the traditional method with there being no radar. The T.3 served with No.228 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Leeming.

FAW.4
FAW4
The FAW.4 was essentially a FAW.1 with the original AI.17 radar set but featured vortex generators on the wings for improved stall characteristics; something that had plagued the aircraft since the prototype as a result of the high T-tail. Additionally the all-moving tailplane of the T.3 was fitted for improved control at higher speeds. It was one of the first widely distributed variants serving in a total of six squadrons.

FAW 5
JavFAW5
The FAW.5 was a FAW.4 but with a revised wing design that allowed it carry more fuel thuis extending range for interception missions over the North Sea if necessary. More importantly however it was the first version to finally have provision for four missile pylons. Although a step closer to meeting the requirement in which the aircraft was born the pylons were never fitted operationally.

FAW 6
FAW6
33 FAW.2s with the American AI.22 radar were reworked to feature the new wing of the FAW.5 and this produced the FAW,6. Again the aircraft now had the provision for four air-to-air missiles but these were never fitted in service.

FAW.7
FAW7
The FAW.7 was the mark where the aircraft finally matured into the aircraft it was meant to be. Introducing new Rolls-Royce Sapphire Sa.7 engines with 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) thrust each, a powered rudder and extended rear fuselage the aircraft dispensed with two of the four 30mm ADEN  guns that had been in previous marks but finally added four Firestreak air-to-air missiles. A FAW.7 conducted the type’s first missile firing in June 1960. A large number of FAW.7s were ordered but the early introduction of the FAW.8 version meant a large number were delivered directly in to storage.

FAW 8
FAW8

Now that the Javelin finally had its long overdue missile armament the next step was to fit the Sapphire Sa.7 engines with reheat raising thrust to 12,300 lbf (54.7 kN). This made it a more capable interceptor at high altitude but at take off the fuel pump couldn’t deliver fuel fast enough to power the afterburner and resulted in an actual loss of power. Therefore the pilot was restricted to only using reheat at 20,000ft and above. Aerodynamically the aircraft featured a new “drooped” wing leading edge and auto-stabilizer that went a long way to improving handling.

FAW 9
JavFAW5
The FAW.9 was the definitive version of the aircraft and a total of 118 FAW.7s were converted to this status by fitting the revised wing and engines of the FAW.8. First flying in 1959 the Javelin was already beginning to show its age compared to the new supersonic designs being developed in the US and the USSR. It was still a potent bomber destroyer however but retained the Firestreak missile which was being replaced by the more capable Red Top air-to-air missile on the Lightning and Royal Navy’s Sea Vixen.

(GALLERY) Gloster Javelin FAW.9 XH903 at the Jet Age Museum, Gloucester

FAW.9R
FAW9r

44 FAW.9s were modified to undertake the relatively new practice of air-to-air refuelling by the fitting of a large refuelling probe which perhaps appropriately looked more like a Javelin than the aircraft itself. Later the aircraft were modified again to carry underwing drop tanks extending operational range further.