Bringing 99 Vintage Aircraft to Life
Home  -  Aircraft Database  -  British Aircraft  -  Gloster Meteor

Gloster Meteor

 Jump to: Variants : Photos : On Display

The Meteor was the Royal Air Force's first jet fighter and stayed in service for around twenty years, being produced in a number of different variants, with just under 4,000 manufactured. The Gloster Meteor was also used to help devise tactics to combat the Messerschmitt Me 163 and Me 262.

Quick Facts
First flight
5th March 1943
Entered service
12th July 1944
Total built

Front view
Meteor front view photo
Side view
Meteor side view photo
Rear view
Meteor rear view photo

During November 1940 under Specification F.9/40 the Air Ministry gave approval of a preliminary study of the Gloster Meteor design of George Carter, with an order for twelve prototypes following three months later on the 7th February 1941. In the end only eight prototypes were produced.

The first prototype undertook thrust and taxying trials in July 1942 powered by a pair of Rover W.2B engines capable of producing 1,000lb of thrust. However, due to delays in flight-standard engines, it was the Halford H.I engine by de Havilland producing 1,500lb of thrust that would power the fifth prototype, and the first to fly, on the 5th March 1943 at Cranwell 25 months after the initial prototype order. This was followed by four more prototypes before the year was out.

The first prototype flew on the 12th June 1943 and featured modified W.2B/23 engines as did the fourth prototype which flew on the 24th July 1943. The third prototype with a pair of Metrovick F.2 engines flew at Farnborough on the 13th November 1943, with the second prototype with Power Jets W.2/500 turbojets flying during November 1943 as well. However the first and third prototypes would crash in April 1944 on the 1st and 27th respectively.

During 1944 three more Meteors flew, the first was one of twenty production Gloster Meteor Mk Is and this occurred on the 12th January 1944, these featured minor changes compared to the prototypes and these would be swapped the next month for a Bell P-59 Airacomet. The seventh prototype flew a few days later on the 20th January and this featured dive brakes. The eighth prototype flew on the 18th April 1944 and was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce W.2B/37 Derwent Is. The last of the prototypes to fly was number six which had its power supplied by two 2,700lb de Havilland Goblin engines and flew on the 24th July 1945 and would go on to be a prototype for the Meteor Mk F.II, although this would never enter production.

Of the original order of twenty Meteor Mk Is some would be directed to be used to improve and develop both the airframe and engine. However the eighteenth airframe would have the honour of becoming the first turboprop-powered aeroplane and was known as the Trent-Meteor and this took to the skies for the first time on the 20th September 1945.

It would be during July 1944 when the Gloster Meteor would start entering service, this was with No. 616 Squadron who were based at Culmhead, Somerset and at that time they were equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII, when on the 12th July 1944 a pair of Meteor Mk F.Is were delivered. Five more Meteors arrived on the 23rd July two days after the squadron moved to Manston, Kent on the 21st July and on the 4th August the type scored its first two successes, both against the V-1 flying bomb. And by the end of August 1944 Meteor conversion was complete. During October 1944 four 616 Squadron Meteors were sent to Debden to help the United States Army Air Force devise tactics to help defend against attacks from the Messerschmitt Me 163 and Me 262.

The second Meteor Mk to appear was the F.III and these began to be delivered to No. 616 Squadron on the 18th December 1944 and by the 17th January 1945 the squadron was again on the move this time to Colerne, Wiltshire and three days later one Meteor flight was sent to No.84 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force, who were stationed in Belgium.

Post-war the Meteor F.8, which first flew on the 12th October 1948, featuring an ejector seat and a top speed of just under 600 mph, thanks to its Derwent 8 turbojets capable of 3,600lb of thrust, would be the most produced variant with 1,183 built. The F.8 would also form the basis of the armed photo reconnaissance FR.9 and the PR.10 unarmed photo reconnaissance aircraft which first flew on the 29th March 1950.

A Meteor two-seat trainer flew on the 19th March 1948, originally as a private venture by Gloster, before being ordered by the Royal Air Force and designated Meteor Mk T.7. A number of other Meteors appeared including a night fighter and tropicalised version. The type also played a vital role for Martin-Baker in testing and developing ejections seats with the 24th July 1946 seeing the Meteor used for the first time in a live ejection seat test.

In total 3,875 Meteors were built and it was phased out of RAF service during the 1960s.


Click on the aeroplane image to view a larger version.

Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Meteor F.1 415 mph 530 miles 40,000 ft four 20mm cannons
Meteor F.2 Only one example built.
Meteor F.3 493 mph 504 miles 40,000 ft four 20mm cannons
Meteor F.4 570 mph 510 miles 44,500 ft four 20mm cannons
and either two 1,000lb bombs
or sixteen 90lb rocket projectiles
Meteor FR.5 Fighter reconnainssance version, only one built.
Meteor F.6 Designation not used.
Meteor T.7 Trainer aircraft.
Meteor F.8 550 mph 520 miles 44,000 ft four 20mm cannons
and either two 1,000lb bombs
or sixteen 90lb rocket projectiles
Meteor FR.9 F.8 photo reconnaissance version with armament.
Meteor PR.10 F.8 photo reconnaissance version.
Meteor NF.11 547 mph 860 miles 40,000 ft four 20mm cannons
Meteor NF.12 Same as the NF.11 but with longer nose.
Meteor NF.13 Tropical version of the NF.11.
Meteor NF.14 585 mph 875 miles 43,000 ft four 20mm cannons
Meteor U.15 Target drone.
Meteor U.16 Target drone.
Meteor TT.20 Target towing conversion of the NF.11.
Meteor U.21 Target drone.


Click on a photo to view a larger version.

On Display

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Variant Location
Meteor F.8 (C) AeroVenture - South Yorkshire Air Museum
Meteor D16/U16
Meteor D.16/U.16 Boscombe Down Aviation Collection
Meteor NF.14 Bournemouth Aviation Museum
Meteor F.8 City of Norwich Aviation Museum
Meteor NF.11 (C)
Meteor T.7 (Hybrid) Dumfries Aviation Museum
Meteor TT.20 East Midlands Aeropark
Meteor T.7 Gatwick Aviation Museum
Meteor F.8 Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Meteor F.3 (C) Jet Age Museum
Meteor T.7
Meteor F.8
Meteor F.4 Midland Air Museum
Meteor F.8 (C)
Meteor NF.14
Meteor T.7 Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre
Meteor NF.14 National Museum of Flight, Scotland
Meteor T.7 Newark Air Museum
Meteor FR.9 (Mod)
Meteor NF.12
Meteor NF.14
Meteor F(TT).8 Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum
Meteor F.8 North East Aircraft Museum
Meteor NF.11 (C)
Meteor NF.11 RAF Defford Museum
Meteor NF.11 RAF Manston History Museum
Meteor F.8 Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford
Meteor NF.14
Meteor F.8 Royal Air Force Museum, London
Meteor NF.14 Solway Aviation Museum
Meteor F.8 Speke Aerodrome Heritage Group
Meteor F.4 Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
Meteor F.8
Meteor F.8 Yorkshire Air Museum

Back to British aircraft

Click here to view a range of Spitfire experiences

Click here to view a range of flying experiences


Spitfire Messerschmitt Fairey Bristol Avro North American Hawker Curtiss Grumman

New on Classic Warbirds

Avro Tutor profile

Bristol Beaufighter profile

Supermarine Spitfire Miscellany

Hawker Hurricane Miscellany

Bomber Command in the Pacific


Spotted an error? Or just have a comment or suggestion about Classic Warbirds? Please let us know.

Click here to view our UK aviation museums map