combat? Col. Harold Watson’s team (“Watson’s
Whizzers”) retrieved several German jets after
V-E Day and returned them to the United States.
Consequently, the AAF compared the P-80 and
Me 262, concluding, "Despite a difference in
gross weight of nearly 2,000 lbs, the Me 262 was
superior to the P-80 in acceleration, speed and
approximately the same in climb performance.
The Me 262 apparently has a higher critical Mach
number, from a drag standpoint, than any cur-
rent Army Air Force fighter.”
The Messerschmitt’s critical Mach was 0.83 or
slightly higher versus about 0.80 for the Lock-
heed. The P-80, however, had a superior roll rate.
Gloster had led the allies with its E.28/39 experimental jet, first flown in May 1941. Rated at
340mph, the two prototypes were “proof of concept” types, leading to far more capable aircraft.
That was the twin-engine Meteor.
The Mark I first flew in March 1943, five
months after Bell’s XP- 59. But only 20 were produced, entering service in July 1944 with No. 616
Squadron, previously flying Spitfire Mk VIIs.
At Manston, “Six-Sixteen” was immediately committed to combat, intercepting V-1
buzz bombs. Meanwhile, RAF test pilot Roland
The broad, fat-wing planform
of the Meteor definitely ties
it to propeller-driven aircraft
design and limited its speed.
It did, however, produce a
forgiving airplane that could
maneuver well. (Photo by John
Gloster Meteor F.3s of 74 Squadron at RAF Bentwaters. The
F. 3 established the first officially recorded jet speed record of
606mph on November 7, 1945. The F. 3 accounted for some
210 of the nearly 4,000 Meteors that were built. (Photo courtesy
of Joe Gertler)