Corgi AA27403 RAF Gloster Meteor F.1 Jet Fighter - T.D. 'Dixie' Dean, No.616 Squadron and Fieseler F-103 V-1 'Doodlebug', August 4th, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, commenting on the British airmen in the Battle of Britain
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. Designed by George Carter, it first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on July 27th, 1944, with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Gloster Meteor was not an aerodynamically advanced aircraft, nor even the world's fastest aircraft on introduction, but the Gloster design team succeeded in producing an effective jet fighter that served the RAF and other air forces for decades. Meteors saw action with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in the Korean War and remained in service with numerous air forces until the 1970s.
In 1929, following Sir Frank Whittle's invention of the turbojet, development of a turbojet-powered fighter by Whittle's firm, Power Jets Ltd., and the Gloster Aircraft Company began in November 1940. The first British jet powered aircraft, the single-engined Gloster E28/39 prototype, had its maiden flight on 15 May 1941. The Air Ministry subsequently contracted for the development of a twin-engined jet fighter under Specification F9/40. Originally the aircraft was to have been named Thunderbolt, but to avoid confusion with the USAAF Republic P-47 Thunderbolt the name was changed to Meteor. The Meteor's construction was all-metal with a tricycle undercarriage and conventional low, straight wings, featuring turbojets mid-mounted in the wings with a high-mounted tailplane to keep it clear of the jet exhaust.
Eight prototypes were produced. Delays with getting type approval for the engines meant that although taxiing trials were carried out it was not until the following year that flights took place. The fifth prototype, DG206, powered by two de Havilland Halford H.1 engines due to problems with the intended Whittle W.2 engines, was the first to become airborne on March 5th, 1943 from RAF Cranwell, piloted by Michael Daunt Development then moved to Newmarket Heath and, later, a Gloster-owned site at Moreton Valence. The first Whittle-engined aircraft, DG205/G, flew on June 17th, 1943 (it crashed shortly after take-off on April 27th, 1944) and was followed by DG202/G in July. DG202/G was later used for deck-handling tests aboard aircraft carrier HMS Pretoria Castle. DG203/G made its first flight on November 9th, 1943 but was soon relegated to a ground instructional role. DG204/G (powered by Metrovick F.2 engines) first flew on November 13th, 1943, and crashed on April 1st, 1944. DG208/G made its debut on January 20th, 1944, by which time the majority of design problems had been identified and a production design approved. The two remaining prototypes never flew. DG209/G was used as an engine test-bed by Rolls-Royce. DG207/G was intended to be the basis for the Meteor F 2 with de Havilland engines, but when the engines were diverted to the de Havilland Vampire the idea was quietly forgotten.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a RAF Gloster Meteor F.1 Jet Fighter that was piloted by T.D. 'Dixie' Dean, who was attached to No.616 Squadron as it chased down and destroyed a Fieseler F-103 V-1 'Doodlebug', on August 4th, 1944.
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Historical Account: "Tip and Run" - Under the cloak of extreme secrecy, Britain had been testing the viability of a jet-powered fighter since early 1941, with the Gloster E28/89 Pioneer proving that this was indeed possible. The race was now on to produce an effective, operational jet fighter, at a time when every available resource was required for the war effort and experimental technology was a luxury that often proved to be more of a distraction. Work continued apace and the twin-engined Gloster Meteor neared a test flight.
This work was so highly classified, that any test flight required the roads around the airfield to be sealed off by the local constabulary and all residents ushered away from the immediate vicinity. All non-essential personnel were forced to leave the airfield for the duration of the test flight, even though they would have clearly seen (and heard) the strange new aircraft once it was in the air! Following completion of the flight and the safe recovery of the aircraft, life could get back to normal.
As the Gloster Meteor entered RAF service, it was originally charged with destroying the V-1 flying bombs that were being sent indiscriminately in the direction of southern Britain. The first Meteor victory over a Doodlebug occurred on the 4th August 1944, when Flying Officer T.D 'Dixie' Dean spotted a V-1 flying in the direction of Tunbridge Wells. Placing his Meteor EE216 in a shallow dive to build up speed, he lined up the V-1 in his gunsight and fired - after a short burst, all four guns jammed.
Dean was determined not to let the Doodlebug get away and maneuvered his Meteor alongside the flying bomb, wing tip to wing tip. When he was positioned as close as he safely could, he flicked the control column of his Meteor and banked sharply away - the sudden airflow disruption caused the V-1 to go out of control and crash without causing injury on open ground. Dean had the first Meteor victory over the V-1 and was the first pilot to use the risky 'tip and run' tactic to destroy one these feared flying bombs.