Ken Ellis describes Britain’s prone-pilot experimental testbeds

The prone-pilot F.8 closes in on another Meteor for a photo-session. ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH
A heavily retouched image of the unflown Henschel Hs 132 V1 prototype in the spring of 1945. KEC

With the advent of the jet engine, all manner of opportunities loomed for designers of single-engined fighters.

The big, bulky piston powerplant could be banished from the nose, replaced by a comparatively compact turbojet nestled behind the pilot, close to the centre of gravity.

Armament and/or radar could be installed up front, freeing the wings of impediments. All of this allowed for ever-smoother aerodynamics.

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