A Most Familiar RAF Jet Aircraft.
[The Gloster Meteor F8 Fighter: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]
The first Jet aircraft built in Britain, the Gloster Meteor was in service with the RAF from 1944 to 1965. Most ex-Brats (ex RAF Halton Apprentices) will no doubt remember them from their early RAF service. My recollection of the Meteor, as a schoolboy was watching them training over the sea at Seaburn, Sunderland and picking up, along the beach, pieces of aircraft wreckage washed in with the tide.
A Good Skive at West Kirkbride.
[Portrait of a Derwent 8 Engine: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]
My own experience, hands on (as it were) was with 60 MU RAF Church Fenton. Thanks to the disbandment of all 21 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Flying Squadrons in 1957.
I was detached to the Aircraft Recovery and Salvage Unit of 60MU to remove Derwent engines from ex RAAF Meteor Jets but ended up dismantling the whole aircraft.
But no grumbles. It was a really good detachment job at No. 12 MU (civilian), West Kirkbride near Carlisle in Cumberland. Civvy digs in Silloth and generous expenses (beer money). Our job: dismantle the unwanted Auxiliary Air Squadron Meteors and pack them onto Queen Marys (RAF low loader type vehicles) for transportation to the South of England to be reassembled and used, it was said, in some roll in target towing duty.
Dixie Dean and the V1.
616 Squadron Royal Auxilary Air Force was the first operational Meteor Squadron. It took delivery of its first Meteors in May and June 1944 and became operational in July. Initially deployed against V1 flying bombs ("Divers") they scored their first victory on 4th August when Flg Officer "Dixie" Dean intercepted a V1 Flying Bomb near Tunbridge Wells.
He initially tried to shoot down it down with cannons but when they failed to fire, he flew up alongside and tipped it over and out of control with his wingtip. Before the allies overran the launch sites in France a further 12 victories would be scored.
The Meteor F mark 8.
The Gloster Meteor Mark 4 was one of the classic versions of the Meteor and the Mark 8 was the result of increasing the nose of the Mark 4 by 30 inches to improve directional stability and add fuel capacity. Unfortunately expenditure of the ammunition, which was also moved forward, resulted in some loss of stability so a new tail unit was fitted. Further improvements included a retractable gunsight and Martin Baker Ejector seat. 1,079 were built, making this the most popular version of Gloster's now ageing fighter. The last F8s in front-line service were withdrawn from 245 Squadron in April 1957; the unit had been equipped with Meteor fighters continuously since August 1945.
There are still many Gloster Meteor survivors around throughout the country. Just keep your eyes open.
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).