Talk about the Battle of Britain, and inevitably, the mind wanders to Supermarine’s iconic Spitfires. But during those tough years, fellow planemaker Gloster Aircraft Company played a vital role, with its Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon fending off the Luftwaffe’s raids. But while it may have failed to capture the public consciousness during the war years, the company came into its own shortly after with its globe-conquering Meteor.
In total, 3,875 of the all-metal, twin-engine aircraft were built in the UK, with the prototype, powered by a De Havilland Halford H-1 engine, taking flight in 1943. Eight years later, it became RAAF’s first jet fighter when it entered service in 1951. And it achieved a notable early scalp, too, when Australian pilot officer Bill Simmonds claimed the only confirmed victory over a MiG-15 in the Korean War flying for No. 77 Squadron.
If you’d like to see one for yourself, Temora Aviation Museum has the only airworthy Meteor left in the world. Built by Gloster in 1949, it carried RAF serial number VZ467 and served until 1982 before being handed over to a private British owner. After being purchased by Temora, it was transported to Australia before being reassembled at Bankstown. It has since been repainted and carries Korean War-era markings.