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.
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.