Gloster Meteor Mk I

The Germans weren’t the only ones exploring new jet technology during World War II.  Great Britain was also striving to put a turbo-jet aircraft in to service.


After the jump, a look at another jet that saw combat, yet is far less well known than a certain German type.

The Gloster Meteor is less well known than Me262 for a few reasons.  For one, it was a more careful and cautious sort of project.  It relied on proven aerodynamic and airframe technologies.

IMG_9159 IMG_9160

Another is that the British carefully shielded it from combat over enemy territory.  They took this so far, that the only air to air combat it saw was against V1 Buzzbombs targeting London.  Very late in the war it flew some close support type missions, that were possibly more about post-war bragging rights than any actual need.

IMG_9161 IMG_9162

The engine and airframe both were improved over time.  Early Mk. I Meteors used a Rolls-Royce Welland engine that was a direct development of the pioneering Whittle engine.  This initial engine only provided a top speed a little over 400 mph.  During Mk. III production an upgraded Derwent engine was introduced and top speed approached 500 mph.  Post-War growth would see speeds near 600 mph.  Gloster Meteors were retired from RAF service in the 1980s.


This was all done more carefully than such German programs, resulting in a much more reliable and long lasting engine.  Of course the British weren’t as desperate as Germany late in the war, so the British jet program led to a more practical design.  Adolf Galland was in the unique position of having led large forces equipped with both Me262 (as the head of all Luftwaffe fighter groups, and later commander of the elite JV44) and Gloster Meteor (as the post-war commander of the Argentine Air Force) and he had some strong feelings about both types.  He felt the Me 262 was a superior performer; better in the air, better in a fight.  But it was a poor aircraft to build an air force around.  It was horribly unreliable and difficult for new pilots to fly.  For actually running an air force it wasn’t even close, General Galland considered the Meteor the better aircraft.

The Gloster Company was a major manufacturer of aircraft and components during World War II.  But their design department only saw two of their own types enter service; the Gloster Gladiator and Gloster Meteor. This one manufacturer represents the extremes of WWII aircraft design.

The Gloster Company was a major manufacturer of aircraft and components during World War II. But their design department only saw two of their own types enter service; the Gloster Gladiator and Gloster Meteor.
This one manufacturer represents the extremes of WWII aircraft design.

Only two jet fighters saw widespread service in World War II.  The traditional looking Meteor, and the radical shark-like Me262.

Only two jet fighters saw widespread service in World War II. The traditional looking Meteor, and the radical shark-like Me262.

This subject is from the Tamiya kit.  It represents a No. 616 Sqn aircraft flown by Flying Officer Dean who scored the type’s first kill.  On August 4, 1944 F/O Dean intercepted a V1 inbound to London, but his guns jammed with no hits scored.  So Dean maneuvered his wing tip under the V1’s wing to generate turbulence that caused the missile’s guidance system to malfunction and flip the little bomb on its back and crash short of the target.  Meteors went on to destroy a further 13 V1 missiles with gun fire.

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~ Up Next: Grumman F3F-1 

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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15 Responses to Gloster Meteor Mk I

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    A very interesting plane in the history of aviation. As you mentioned, the ME-262 was a far more revolutionary design, with the swept wings that all subsequent designs would eventually adopt, but it is the difference between an experimental prototype rushed in to production out of desperation and a more considered and gradual development by the British. The Us was working on the P-59, the P-80 and in the initial stages of developing the (eventual) F-86 contemporaneously, but aside from the F-86, none lived up to the potential of the jet age as well as the Gloster.

    • atcDave says:

      I should eventually have both P-59 and P-80 builds at this site too.

      The P-59 was particularly underwhelming, it was slower than most late war piston engine fighters.
      But at least every one recognized that, and it was used mainly for testing and training.
      The P-80 was better. I would have said more fully equal to the Meteor. And as the T-33 it is still in service around the world.

      I agree exactly on the Me262. It was revolutionary. But too much. It was underdeveloped and unreliable. If Germany had more time it possibly could have become something formidable. But as it was, it never came close. (Serious problems with both engines and aerodynamics)

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well I’d have to agree that as the T-33 the F-80 did provide a lot of value to the world’s air forces, just not as a deployed combat aircraft. And while it may have equaled the Gloster, it did so about 5 years too late. I’d contend that while not really obsolete, it was at best a middling fighter, on the order of a late 1942 P-40, by the time it was really deployed.

      • atcDave says:

        The P-80 did fly combat missions in World War II (Three aircraft in Italy). I think at that point it would have been one of the best aircraft in the world, possibly only the Me262 could outperform it.
        By Korea it was passed its prime. Just like the Meteor, it was in need of replacement; neither could compete with a MiG-15.
        But I think that still leaves a period of five years when it really was at the top of the mountain. If it seems to be an underachiever I think its because it was state of the art for a period between any major wars.

        I did a quick look and I have two kits of it. I expect to build both an Italy based aircraft, and a hypothetical in 20th Air Force markings for an Iwo Jima based escort fighter.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I was not aware that the P-80 was actually deployed in WW2. Yes, I was mostly basing my assessment on the Korean war service, and I’ll stand by my P-40 comparison. A once cutting edge plane that was middling at best by the time it saw widespread combat.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And yes, the MiG 15 should not be discounted as a reason the F-80 was less than impressive in it’s first large-scale combat deployment.

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree that in Korea, against MiG-15s, the F-80 was an inferior aircraft!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        While we can often appreciate the efficiency, the beauty, and the utility of a design, combat aircraft are never evaluated in a vacuum.

  2. Terry Brodin says:

    The Meteor always brings to mind the uphill struggle Frank Whittle had in inventing and developing the turbojet.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t know a whole lot of that story, except that Whittle came up with a pretty revolutionary sort of engine!

  3. Pingback: Fiesler Fi-103 (V1) | Plane Dave

  4. terry Brodin says:

    Be nice if photos surfaced of the Meteor Robin Olds flew, when he was on assignment with the 1948/49.
    Would be a change of pace from the usual Olds P-38s, P-51s and F-4 models.
    Bet it would also raise some eyebrows!

    How about a hypothetical Olds F-86A, if he was sent to Korea in 1951? Could be in the experimental olive drab uppersurfaces, natural metal undersurfaces, early black/white ID stripes, 5 red stars (have to make him at least an ace in Korea) on the upper port gun access panel with 12 Luftwaffe crosses on the lower portion, a stylized script “ELLA” (his wife) on the starboard gun access panel — and “SCAT” boldly emblazoned in red/yellow on the fuselage sides, aft if the gun access panels.
    I read that what kept him from being assigned to Korea was that his wife, having friends in Washington, pulled some behind the scene strings to keep him home. Didn’t help either, that some of his superior officers weren’t too fond of him.
    One can only wonder what his score may have been in Korea — just have a feeling he would have been right up there with the high ranking Korean aces.

  5. terry Brodin says:

    Nice thing about hypos —– not worrying about getting the details right; whatever details come out of your head are the correct details!

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