Skip to navigation.

Two Griffins holding a 74th shield.The Spirit of the 74th.

The Gloster Javelin.

< Home Page. More Aircraft >

World's First Twin Engined Delta Wing .

The Gloster Javelin.

Sketch of a Gloster Javelin Jet Aircraft

I loved the shape of the Gloster Javelin and made more than one balsa model of the aircraft (before Airfix aircraft were available) to hang from my bedroom ceiling on a piece of strong thread along with my other favourites. I also made a flying model powered by Jetex engines but it didn't survive long.

Some of the only facts I remember about the aircraft are that the Gloster Javelin was the last aircraft designed and produced by the Gloster Aircraft Company. and it was the world’s first twin jet delta wing aircraft.

Javelin Crash on the Yorkshire Moors.

My only, but unforgettable, experience of this aircraft was with a shovel and spade when at the end of January 1959 the Salvage and Recovery Section of 60 MU at RAF Church Fenton were told to respond to a crash of a Gloster Javelin in the Yorkshire Moors near Castle Bolton. It was in all the papers.
On the 29th of January 1959 this aircraft was on a training flight from RAF Leeming., Yorkshire when whilst over the Yorkshire Dales an engine failed. The crew could not restart the engine, so they ejected, and the aircraft crashed near Apedale, on the Duke of Devonshire's Grouse Moors, north of Castle Bolton where much of the wreckage still remains today.
The pilot, Flying Officer C P Cowper, and navigator Captain R E Nietz both ejected safely.

Potted History of the Gloster Javelin.

The Need for a Night Fighter.

War defence spending and aeronautical research in the UK was cut to the bone only to be revived in the late forties with the onset of the cold war. It was realised very quickly that defence of UK airspace at night was in particularly bad shape, most night fighter squadrons being equipped with the obsolescent de Havilland Mosquito , which was soon to be replaced by the slightly less obsolescent Vampire and Gloster Meteor night fighters.

Is It to Be the DH 110 or Gloster Javelin?

Two designs were in competition, the de Havilland DH110, (which became the Sea Vixen) and Gloster's proposal for a large twin jet delta. Gloster's proposal was afforded "super priority" status which more or less committed the Government and the RAF to the Gloster design whether it worked out or not. De Haviland's proposal suffering a serious setback with the prototype DH110 tragedy at the Farnborough Air Show in 1952.

The Javelin Prototype Was First Flown in 1951.

The Javelin prototype was first flown in 1951 and both prototypes were lost, one with the loss of its crew. It was established that at certain angles of attack the large delta wing blocked off airflow to the high mounted tailplane resulting in a flat spin with the pilot unable to recover control. Therefore, during its service career the Javelin was extremely flight limited. It is rumoured that the pilots were instructed not to loop or roll the aircraft which is incredible for a fighter!

But, the Truth from a Former Javelin Pilot.

Pete Raby of the 74th Entry (Engines) sent the following bit of information: " I spoke to my brother, who, amongst many aircraft, is a former Javelin pilot, and he informs me that looping the aircraft was prohibited (although it would and did loop - read into that what you will) but rolling the aircraft was an allowable manoeuvre. He even showed me the Pilots Notes."

Thanks Pete.

Misconceptions Which Arose Concerning This Exceptionally Capable Weapons Platform.

Further Insight from Greg Potter Flt Lt (Retired)

"I served with Nos 141 and 41 Squadrons in the back seat of both the NF Meteor and both early and late versions of the Javelin and so was quite used to the misconceptions which arose concerning this exceptionally capable weapons platform.

"The ban on looping the aircraft was entirely due to the idiosyncrasies of the Q Feel system. This dynamic system (Fed by the pitot intakes on top of the aircraft fuselage) repositioned the pilots stick according to the speed and trim setting at the time. As the speed reduced during a loop the stick moved forward which was the opposite to what the pilot required but was easily overcome and so long that the pilot was aware of this tendency there was no problem and the aircraft would perform the manoeuvre beautifully. A related fighter combat manoeuvre - the vertical Yo Yo had the same characteristics but was not limited by pilots notes. Anecdotally, the limitation was placed in the pilots notes after a certain Test Pilot failed to understand how the feel system worked and frightened himself silly.

"At high angles of attack which could be easily achieved with the delta configuration and the powerful tailplane, the airflow over the top of the fuselage would become very turbulent and strongly affect the airflow into the Q Feel Pitot Heads which resulted in a forward movement of the pilots stick which was considered a desirable recovery feature.

"The full spin in the Javelin was very flat in character with the tailplane and rudder completely blanked by the fierce turbulence from the stalled wing. The only available recovery action was to use the ailerons to attempt to make the spin oscillatory in the hope that it would flick inverted and make recovery possible. The later marks of the Javelin were fitted with a braking parachute to slow the heavier aircraft during the landing run and one adventurous pilot who managed to get into a spin had the presence of mind to deploy the parachute which pitched the nose down and allowed him to recover the situation. After this event it became the standard spin recovery action.

"The Javelin took care of all bad weather and night operations and the Hunter looked after the daylight and good weather time. Statistics showed that during the exercise season with massed raids by Bomber Command aircraft most Javelins would return to base claiming 4 missile kills, one gun kill and a 'Sprinkle' whereas the hunters would be claiming one or maybe 2 kills. This was no fault of the trusty Hunter or its pilots but simply because they could not find the bombers with no radar. Towards the end of the era the 'Hen and Chicken' ploy was adopted where a hunter would attach itself to a Javelin and stay with it until a bomber was sighted whereupon the Hunter would break off and attack the bomber whilst the Javelin sought its next target. Frequently it would acquire another Hunter before it completed the attack.

"Once the sister Squadrons began to co-operate in this manner, a further major problem was solved and this was - how do you recover 26 aircraft, all short of fuel via a radar approach when a visual approach is not possible and the minimum separation on the radar approach was 3 minutes? The answer was quite simple - The Hunters and Javelins all converged on a common decent point and joined up in formations of 2 or 3 aircraft with the Javelin leading and taking care of the navigation to the 'Dive Point' then the formation descended on radar to a formation landing. There was some official resistance to this practice until a number of Hunter aircraft were lost one day due to running out of fuel when diverting in bad weather. This resistance evaporated overnight, and it became a standard operational procedure.

"Greg Potter Flt Lt (Retired)"

Could the RAF Have Done Better?

However, this restriction did not mean that the Javelin was a failure, the RAF was at this time placing it's faith in guided missiles and tended to regard the Javelin as a high speed missile carrier, which to be fair the Javelin did very well. So well that it remained in service for twelve years, finally being retired in the late sixties to be replaced by the English Electric Lightning. In retrospect though, many observers feel that the RAF would have been better served by the de Havilland DH110.

Some More Technical Stuff.

Gleaned from the Web to fill up the page so if it is wrong please let me know.

Maximum level speed: Mach 0.92 at 36,000 ft
Weight: 43,166 lbs max take-off weight
Powerplant: Two Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire SA7R, (12,300 lb with reheat)
Armament: Four 30mm Aden Cannon and four Firestreak missiles

Even More Technical Stuff.

Able to fly at high altitudes and high subsonic speeds to intercept bombers, the Royal Air Forces' all-weather FAW1 was the world's first twin-jet delta wing fighter. Powered by two Sapphire turbojets blasting 7,000 pounds (3,180kg) of thrust each, the first prototype flew on November 26, 1951. FAW1 was easy to recognize by its massive swept tail fin and fixed-delta tail plane.

Nicknamed the "Drag master," it was a huge fighter compared to some of its contemporaries like the Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Vampire. In 1956, it was one of the most heavily armed fighters in the world.
One version, the FAW7 had four Firestreak infrared air-to-air missiles and two 30mm cannon. Later models were made even more formidable, equipped with U.S. built radar and Sapphire 7R engines. The Javelin went out of service in 1968, after which it was superseded by the BAC Lightning.

Gloster Javelin Experiences.

We sometimes receive email from visitors to the 74th Entry website who are not members of the 74th. This one from Richard Johns is about an experience during the design of the prototype of the Gloster Javelin.

"Hello Jo"
"I was interested in reading of your Javelin experiences, I served an engineering apprenticeship at Glosters 1949/54 and during the end of my time worked in the R & D Dept where the prototype aircraft were being constructed.
I recall designing several test rigs for the control system, sitting on the tailplane working an oscillator (or something) during vibration tests on the airframe.
Bill Warton made several attempts at taking off from the Hucclecote runway (now part of the M5 motorway) but I vividly recall the first successful take-off all the way to Morton Valance runway."

Richard Johns 25th July 2008.

Let's Hear Your Stories.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any stories about this aircraft; humorous, technical, or historical. Please use the Feedback Form to contact me briefly, in the first instance.

Joe Bosher (74th).


< Home Page. More Aircraft >

Site Navigation: