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The Gloster Meteor

Discussion in 'Allied Fighter Planes' started by brianw, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. brianw

    brianw Member

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    The Meteor wasn’t the first operational jet fighter; the Messerschmitt ME262 did come before it (by some months) but it was the first allied jet and it was also far more successful; remaining in RAF service in its various versions for many years.

    The 2 wing mounted turbojet engines were based on the design by Frank Whittle and the Meteor first flew as a test aircraft on 5 March 1943.

    The Meteor first saw active service with 616 Squadron on 27 July 1944, although for security reasons the aircraft was not allowed to operate over enemy territory; the design and construction of the engines was significantly different and more advanced than those of the ME 262.

    At this time in the war its main role was trying to intercept the V1 flying bomb because it was fast enough and stable enough at those high speeds to make a successful interception viable. In fact the Meteor was credited with shooting down some 14 flying bombs, although there were some difficulties mainly with guns jamming.

    During wartime service the Meteor F1s of 616 sqdn were replaced with the F3 variant which were later powered by the Rolls-Royce Derwent 1 engines along with an increased fuel capacity.

    While still being forbidden to fly over enemy territory, the Meteors of 616 sqdn were employed in training bomber gunners and also developing escort fighter practice to counter the threat posed by the German ME 262 and also the Komet rocket propelled fighter, both of which had devised an attack method which employed the high speed dive from above.

    Post war, the Meteor was deployed in Korea and was also used by a number of Air Forces around the world.
    The Meteor was finally retired from RAF service as a target towing tug in the 1980s, and of the 3947 aircraft (in various versions) built, only five remain in an airworthy condition; four in the UK and one in Australia.
     
  2. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    Just out of curiosity Brian, if only 5 survive do you kow how many was built? :ahg:
     
  3. brianw

    brianw Member

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    As I said, almost four thousand (3947) Meteors of numerous variants and special purpose airframes were built.

    Five are still kept in an airworthy condition; two of those are operated by Martin Baker, the ejector seat manufacturers as test beds for their seats. One is down under and the other two are flying museum pieces.

    As well as those five, there are also a number of Meteor airframes as static display pieces, known as pedistal mounted or gate guardians.
     
  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    They must have been one of the longest serving jets in history?
     
  5. brianw

    brianw Member

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    Actually Jim the Meteor is ONE of the longer serving jet aircraft, but that accolade really goes to the English Electric Canberra.
    I know it's not a wartime aircraft and I've only included it here because you asked.

    The Canberra was the first generation of jet powered light bomber, and although significantly larger than the Meteor it was of a similar design configuration; twin jet engines, each one being wing mounted and non-swept back wings.

    The Canberra first flew on 13 May 1949 and was introduced to service with the RAF in May 1951.
    During periods of the cold war it was often armed with something like the "Blue Steel" nuclear stand-off bomb. It was also used by 360 sqdn in the photo-reconnaissance role.

    In its early days the Canberra set many height, speed and distance records.
    It was finally retired from service on 23 June 2006 making a total of 55 years in active service.
    The Meteor “only” managed 40-45 years in service.
     
  6. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Brian allow me to give a slight correction on discussion of the Me 262A after interviewing several Jg 7 pilots the Taktic on US bomber formations was a zoom downward and swoop up like a porpoise and because of the Us P-51 escorts the unit tried to attack in 3' in arrow head style. though after reading after action reports it appears all sorts of straight shots at the tail of the bombers were used assaulting like SturmFw's of 1944 hitting the inboard engines if possible and destroying the tail surfaces.

    Attacks of US and British fighters were to be from a height advantage and surprise and then flat out speed toward their airfield.

    E ~
     
  7. brianw

    brianw Member

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    Thank you for your input Erich.

    As I eluded to, and as you say the attack method employed by the ME262 jet and Komet rocket aircraft of the Luftwaffe involved a rapid dive down on the bombers from above, in fact the fuel situation in the Komet only allowed it to climb above the bomber formations and then dive. There was no more fuel left for further manoeuvring, in effect it became a high speed glider.

    Trials with the Meteor showed that was an effective strategy for attack and the best method to guard against such an attack was to fly a high level escort fighter screen at some 5000 feet above the main bomber stream. This would then allow for interception to occur as the Luftwaffe fighters reached their attacking height and just prior to their descent onto the bombers.

    As with all tactics and strategies, they always work as intended on the blackboard in the briefing room, but whether it worked in practice ... well, not every time!
     
  8. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Even today Brian ... :smirk:
     
  9. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Brian just a note US escorts flew 1000 feet higher not 5,000 feet criss crossing and depending on what route and whom was flying escort would follow or lead ahead of US bomber formations to protect especially summer of 44 till wars end against LW heavy Fw formations and later of sorts against JG 7's Me 262's.

    As per use B-17's were flying 25,000 and aboe the top ceiling ranges for the P-51D's were in accordance about 1000 ft higher, LW A/C of course like the high protection staffels in late 44 flying G-10's could barely make it to 30,000 ft for their true performance and still did not have the edge over the more agile P-51D's and K's.

    E ~
     
  10. brianw

    brianw Member

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    Having tried to research this further, I’ve found that the first squadron to be equipped with the Meteor, and the only squadron to fly it on active service during WW2 was 616 Sqdn. It was this squadron that first developed the high level fighter screen using jet aircraft flying at 5,000 feet above the main bomber stream in order to meet the threat from the German Me-262 and Komet aircraft.

    616 Sqdn was based at Debden but was moved forward to Manston in order that they could fly the high level fighter screen.

    Jet engine powered aircraft are more efficient at altitude and the Meteor had an absolute service ceiling of 40,000 feet and an operational ceiling of about 30,000 feet with a top speed of 415 mph at that height. Its rate of climb to 30,000 feet was about 3,300 feet per minute.

    Flying the high level fighter screen at 5,000 feet above the bomber force flying at 25,000 feet (just about maximum for piston engine propeller driven heavy bomber aircraft) was well within the specification and ability of the Meteor. The fighter screen mentioned by Erich was flown by the American P51, a propellor driven piston engine aircraft.
     

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