|TX148, the third prototype on a test flight, c. 1949|
|Manufacturer||Gloster Aircraft Company|
|First flight||9 March 1948|
|Primary user||Royal Air Force (intended)|
|Number built||3 (4th prototype not completed)|
The Gloster E.1/44 was a British single-engined jet fighter design of the Second World War which came about because of low availability of jet engines but was not completed in prototype form until after the war and never entered production.
Design and development
The success of the first British jet aircraft the Gloster E.28/39 led to the design of the twin-engined Gloster Meteor jet fighter from 1940 onwards. However in 1942 Rover, who were contracted to produce the Whittle W2 jet engine, were having production problems so the Air Ministry issued a Specification, E.5/42, asking for a design which would use only one engine rather than the two. Gloster produced a design for a low-winged monoplane with a highly tapered wing and a T-tail, to be fitted with a tailwheel undercarriage. It was to be powered by a single Halford H.1 or Rolls-Royce Nene engine fed by intakes in the wing roots. Construction began of two GA.1 prototypes began late in 1943. In the end Rolls-Royce Limited traded jet engine production (the W2 would become known as the Welland) for Meteor tank engine production with Rover; the supply problem was resolved and the single-engined design was not required. Gloster continued with their design work privately intending to use a Halford H.1 engine instead of the W2/Welland.
In 1944 the Ministry issued a Specification, E.1/44, for an experimental jet aircraft using the new Rolls-Royce Nene engine. Gloster's design to meet this specification was a new design (GA.2), not based on the E.5/42, being significantly larger. Gloster received a contract to build a single prototype, in 1944, with orders for a further three aircraft following in late 1945.
The new design was a stressed-skin mid-winged monoplane with, unlike the E5/42, a tricycle landing gear. The tailplane was mounted midway up the rear fuselage, behind the single fin and rudder. The engine was fed from semi-circular intakes ahead of the wing roots, while the wings were, unusually, skinned in difficult to work stainless-steel.
Progress on the new fighter was slow, with Gloster concentrating on development of the Meteor. The first prototype was not completed until July 1947, and was destroyed in a road accident when being taken to Boscombe Down for flight testing. The first E.1/44 to fly (the second prototype) did so on 9 March 1948 at Boscombe Down flown by Gloster Chief Test Pilot Bill Waterton who was not impressed with its lack of power or poor flying characteristics, dubbing it the "Gormless". The unofficial name never stuck and the prototype did not have an official name, although "Ace" was proposed. Handling was initially poor, with a new tail unit, with a high mounted tailplane being fitted. While this solved the handling problems, performance was still little better than that of the Meteor, and the programme was stopped in 1949 as the aircraft did not have the development potential of the Meteor, with the fourth prototype (TX150) not completed. The revised E.1/44 tail design was, however, carried over to the Meteor, and employed on the Meteor F 8 and later models. The only two aircraft to fly were used as testbeds for a while before being scrapped, one remaining in use until at least 1951.
- Single-engined version of the design to meet Air Ministry Specification E.5/42 - two aircraft serial numbers SM801 and SM805, construction abandoned.
- GA.2 Ace
- Improved variant to meet E.1/44, three built, SM809 was destroyed during transit to Boscombe Down by road and never flew. TX145 was first to fly on 9 March 1948. TX148 with a modified tail first flew in 1949, the tail design was later used on the Gloster Meteor F.8.
- Pre-production aircraft, serial number TX150, not built.
- Forty early production aircraft were ordered in two batches in April and July 1946, cancelled and not built.
Data from The British Fighter since 1912 
- Length: 38 ft 0 in (11.59 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.98 m)
- Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)
- Wing area: 254 ft² (23.6 m²)
- Empty weight: 8,260 lb (3,755 kg)
- Loaded weight: 11,470 lb (5,214 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Nene II centrifugal flow turbojet, 5,000 lbf (22.3 kN)
- Maximum speed: 539 knots (620 mph, 998 km/h)
- Range: 357 nm (410 mi, 660 km)
- Service ceiling: 44,000 ft (13,400 m)
- Climb to 40,000 ft (12,200 m): 12 min 30 sec
- Guns: 4 x 20 mm Hispano cannon
- Goulding 1986, p. 146.
- James 1971, pp. 306–307.
- Goulding 1986, p.151.
- Mason 1992, pp. 356–357.
- Goulding 1986, pp. 151–152.
- James 1971, pp. 307–308.
- Goulding 1986, p. 152.
- Waterton 1956, p. 12.
- James 1971, pp. 309–310.
- Goulding 1986, p. 155.
- James 1971, p. 310.
- Mason 1992, p. 357.
- Ashley, Glenn. Meteor in Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 1995. ISBN 0-89747-332-9.
- Bowyer, Chaz. Gloster Meteor. London: Ian Allan Ltd., 1985. ISBN 0-7110-1477-9.
- Buttler, Tony. Gloster Meteor (Warpaint Series No.22). Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom: Hall Park Books Ltd., 2001. ISBN 1-85780-230-6.
- Caruana, Richard J. and Richard A. Franks. The Gloster & AW Meteor. Kingsway, Bedford, United Kingdom: SAM Publications, 2004. ISBN 0-9533465-8-7.
- Goulding, James. Interceptor: RAF Single-Seat Multi-Gun Fighters. London: Ian Allan, 1986. ISBN 0-7110-1583-X.
- Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Great Book of Fighters. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.
- James, Derek N. Gloster Aircraft since 1917. London: Putnam, 1971. ISBN 0-370-00084-6.
- Jones, Barry. Gloster Meteor. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, United Kingdom: The Crowood Press Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-86126-162-4.
- Mason, Francis K. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
- Waterton, W.A. The Quick and the Dead: The Story of a Chief Test Pilot. London: Muller, 1956.
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