Oxford AC031 RAF Gloster Meteor F.8 Jet Fighter with German V-1 "Doodlebug" Flying Bomb - No. 616 Squadron, No. 122 Wing, Nijmegen, 1945 (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 May 15th, 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 Gloster Meteor F.8 jet fighter and German Doodlbug flying bomb. The Meteor is from No. 616 Squadron, No. 122 Wing, then deployed to Nijmegen, Holland, during 1945.
Release Date: December 2012
Historical Account: "Chasing Doodlebugs" - On July 12th, 1944, the unit became the first RAF squadron to receive jet equipment in the form of Gloster Meteor Mk.I fighters, testing them at RAF Culmhead. The first Meteor operational sortie was on July 27th from RAF Manston when it intercepted V-1 flying bombs launched against southern England. The first victories came on August 4th when one V1 was tipped over after a pilot's cannon jammed and another was shot down. The loss rate of the still unproven Meteor Mk.I was high, with three being written off in non-combat incidents between August 15th and 29th. Re-equipment with improved Meteor Mk.III's began in January 1945 and in February a detachment was deployed to Melsbroek near Brussels in Belgium. It was intended as a defence against Me 262's but in the event they did not ever face them. In early April the complete squadron moved to Gilze-Rijen in the Netherlands, commencing ground attack sorties on April 16th. The squadron was disbanded at Lbeck, Germany on August 29th, 1945, by being renumbered to No. 263 Squadron RAF.