No. 11287. Gloster G.43 Meteor T.MK.7 (WF776, WF881, WL361, WL413) Royal Air Force
Photographed September 12, 1953, source unknown

Gloster G.43 Meteor T.MK.7

03/31/2012. In 1947, with a 600 mph (966 kmh) fighter becoming operational in rapidly mounting numbers in RAF squadrons and overseas, training was beginning to be a vast problem. The need was for a two-seat trainer Meteor and, under the leadership of R.W. Walker, Glosters' design team quickly produced schemes as a private venture for adapting the F.MK.4 airframe to accommodate a pupil and instructor seated in tandem unpressurized cockpits under a long heavy-framed canopy.

Speed of development was imperative and the experimental department overhauled the centre section, outer wings and rear fuselage of the F.MK.4 demonstrator, G-AIDC, and built a new front fuselage 30 in (0.76 m) longer than standard to house the additional seat. Unarmed and with all essential controls duplicated, this Meteor variant had Derwent 5 engines. Designated Meteor T.MK.7, the first flight took place at Moreton Valence on March 19, 1948, piloted by Bill Waterton. This prototype was painted carmine with the ivory registration letters G-AKPK.

Although at that time there was no official requirement for a jet trainer, the T.MK.7's performance was sufficiently impressive to cause the Air Ministry to issue specification T.1/47 to cover an RAF version. G-AKPK was subsequently used as a demonstrator in a number of countries, including France, Italy and Turkey, before being sold to the RNethAF in November 1948 reserialed I-1.

Production T.MK.7s were basically similar to the F.MK.4s with the exception of the front fuselage; provision was made for a ventral and two underwing drop tanks, the lead ballast was reduced as various modifications were embodied, and the IFF equipment was initially removed. With reduced total weight the T.MK.7's rate of climb and take-off performance were somewhat better than the fighter variants and the longer nose enhanced directional stability. Early production T.MK.7s had Derwent 5 engines, but later aircraft were powered by Derwent 8s and in consequence had larger diameter air intakes.

The first production Meteor T.MK.7 was first flown on October 26, 1948, and the type entered RAF service early in 1949 with No.203 AFS (Advanced Flying School) at RAF Driffield, Yorkshire, England. The pictured aircraft belonged to No.203 AFS' display team: X-54 (WF776), X-55 (WF881), X-68 (WL413), X-71 (WL361).

The RN received 43 T.MK.7s as their standard shore-based jet trainer. In total 640 Meteor T.MK.7s were produced during 1949-1954 and supplied to 96 RAF and RN squadrons (most of which had one or more T.MK.7s) and training units. The last MoS T.MK.7 was XF279, but the last aircraft delivered was XF278 on 27 July, 1954.

A considerable number of Meteor T.MK.7s, some fitted with an F.MK.8 tail unit, were used for experimental and development flying and among them were VW411 and VW412 which were fitted with an automatic air brake system; VW412 also took part in trials of asymmetric loads simulating the carriage of one Red Dean missile; VW413 was used at RAE Farnborough for trials in connection with the development of the U.Mk.15 target drone and was later converted by Armstrong Whitworth into the aerodynamic prototype NF.MK.11; WA634 was used by Martin Baker for development of the zero-feet rocket ejector seat; WE867 was fitted with a tail parachute; WL375 had a camera nose and an F.MK.8-type tail unit.

Some Meteor T.MK.7s continued in service at RAF and Ministry of Technology establishments as late as 1969 and were used as high-speed communications aircraft and personal hacks. WH166 was still in use by the CFS Examining Wing at RAF Little Rissington in July 1969.

Export orders for the T.MK.7:

Ordered in November 1948, 43 T.MK.7s were delivered to the RNethAF in seven batches between 1949 and 1956. The first T.MK.7 delivered was Glosters' private venture demonstrator, G-AKPK, reserialed I-1 and brought up to full RAF standard. Early RNethAF T.MK.7s had Derwent 5 engines, but later deliveries had Derwent 8s and large diameter air intakes.

Between 1948 and 1952, Belgium acquired 42 T.MK.7s by direct purchase of three new aircraft from Glosters, 19 ex-RAF aircraft and 20 which were ex-Belgian AF F.MK.4s rebuilt as T.MK.7s by Avions Fairey at Gosselies, using front fuselages provided by Glosters. T.MK.7s were used as advanced trainers and served with Nos.1, 7 and 13 Fighter Wings at Beauvechain, Chièvres and Brustem respectively. Avions Fairey also modified a small number of T.MK.7s to take the F.MK.8 tail unit, and some of these aircraft were subsequently sold to Israel.

One T.MK.7 was ordered by Egypt in August 1948, but due to the British Government's ban on export of arms to the Middle East, it was not delivered until October 1949. Two more T.MK.7s were delivered early in 1950 and three ex-RAF aircraft in September 1955.

The Syrian Government ordered two Meteor T.MK.7s in January 1950 and, serialed 91 and 92, they were accepted by the customers' representative at Moreton Valence on June 10, 1950. Although these aircraft were used by Glosters to train four Syrian pilots, the arms embargo prevented their delivery to Syria, and both aircraft were refurbished for export to France. Two ex-RAF T.MK.7s, WL471 and WL472, were subsequently delivered to Syria in November 1952 following the lifting of the ban. These aircraft were similar in all respects to standard T.MK.7s with Derwent 8 engines.

Nine T.MK.7s were ordered in 1950 for use by an Operational Conversion Unit of the RDanishAF at Karup.

Ten T.MK.7s and 60 F.MK.8s were ordered by the Brazilian Government in October 1952, but, because Brazil had little convertible currency, the British Government agreed to accept 15,000 tons of raw cotton as payment. Two of the first four T.MK.7s delivered in April 1953 were ex-MoS aircraft, WL485 and WL486. All T.MK.7s were powered by Derwent 8 engines, had whip aerials replacing the earlier rigid type and at least two had radio compasses. Serial numbers were 4300 to 4309. Several T.MK.7s were among the 50 Meteors still reported as being airworthy in November 1969.

Apart from two T.MK.7s, originally allocated for delivery to Syria, a total of 12 more aircraft, all ex-RAF, were delivered to France during 1953-1955. They were primarily used for training aircrews from No.30 Squadron, Armée de l'Air, which was equipped with Meteor NF.MK.11 night fighters. A number of T.MK.7s were also used at the CEV Bretigny for trial installations of equipment including ejector seats, radio and navigation equipment. Similar to RAF T.MK.7s these aircraft were mainly supplied without the Type 1934 and 1935 VHF radio.

Four T.MK.7s were delivered to Israel in June 1953, serialed 2162 to 2165. Similar to RAF T.MK.7s they were fitted with special target-towing lugs attached to the ventral tank rear support structure, the frangible fairing being omitted.

On July 29, 1955, the first of three Meteor T.MK.7s ordered by the RSwedAF for operation by a Swedish company, Svensk Flygtjänst AB (Swedair Ltd), was delivered. Painted yellow, it was an ex-RAF aircraft, WF833, bearing the civil registration letters SE-CAS in black, and was for target-towing duties. These duties were performed by Svensk Flygtjänst for all branches of the Swedish and Danish defense forces under contract to the two Governments.

A second aircraft, ex-WH128, was refurbished and converted by Flight Refuelling and, registered SE-CAT, it was delivered in September 1955. It crashed on the approach to Visby airfield on January 21, 1959.

The third and last T.MK.7, SE-DCC, was originally Glosters' private venture ground-attack fighter G-AMCJ, of 1950, which became G-7-1 in 1951 and G-ANSO in 1954. Basically an F.MK.8, the single-seat front fuselage was replaced by a two-seat T.MK.7 front fuselage in 1954, and for four years was used by Glosters as a photographic aircraft. In November 1958 Svensk Flygtjänst agreed to buy G-ANSO on condition that a standard T.MK.7 rear fuselage and outer wings were fitted. SE-DCC was painted yellow like its two predecessors but had white registration letters and was delivered by John Towle, a Gloster pilot, on August 11, 1959.

Created March 31, 2012