Extremely Cool, but…

A Gloster Meteor in flyable condition–the Meteor being Britain’s first operational jet fighter–has come to the US on a permanent basis.  The jet has been purchased by the World Heritage Air Museum, which is located near Detroit.  It will be at the EAA Oshkosh show this July, along with two other early British jets.

The prototype Meteor first flew on March 5, 1943, and the type’s first use was against the V-1 cruise missiles that plagued London.  Meteors were sent to the Continent in early 1945, they were restricted in their operating area for fear of having downed aircraft captured by the Germans or the Soviets and were used for airfield defense and ground-attack missions.

I believe this was the only flyable Meteor in the UK except for two owned by the Martin-Baker company and used to test ejection seats…as working aircraft these planes probably aren’t available for public display very often, if at all.  It’s great to have a Meteor in the US, but I would have thought that given this airplane’s historical significance, someone in the UK would have raised the money to keep it flying there.

5 thoughts on “Extremely Cool, but…”

  1. That is interesting – about their fear of the Soviet Union at that time. Maybe I am wrong but I remember from somewhere that the Soviets got hold of a Rolls Royce Jet engine that though reverse engineering became the powerplant of the MiG 15.

  2. Bill…indeed, not only did the Soviets get hold of a Rolls-Royce jet engine, but it was *given and licensed* to them by the British government.

    Mikoyan (the Mi in ‘Mig’) had suggested to Stalin the they obtain an engine from Britain, to which Stalin replied, “What fool will sell us his secrets?” However, he agreed to let Mikoyan try.

    The fool turned out to be Sir Stafford Cripps, the Labour Minister of Trade.

  3. Sergei Khrushchev, the Premier’s son, tells an interestingly different version of how the Mig-15 got its engine, which his says was told to him by Mikoyan himself. According to Mikoyan, agreement in principle had been reached to obtain the engine from the British and he traveled to the Rolls-Royce plant to finish up the details. The British kept stalling, and Mikoyan was getting irritated. He started needling the Rolls-Royce executives along the lines of, “you only say you’re in charge of the company, but actually you’re just like us—you can’t take a step without the ministry.”

    Finally, a RR executive proposed a wager–a game of billiards. If Mikoyan won, the Soviets would get the engine. If the RR exec won, the deal was off. Mikoyan hadn’t played the game for a long time, but saw no choice but to agree. They played, and Mikoyan won.

    It seems that somebody must have been pulling somebody’s leg: Either Mikoyan was pulling Sergei’s leg (and I have no idea whether Mikoyan had a reputation as a practical joker), or the RR exec knew that the deal had already been approved and was just having a little fun with the Russians…or Sergei made the whole thing up, which seems unlikely.

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