Gloster Meteor VW453 history required

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18 years

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This airframe has recently been acquired for the Jet Age Museum by two of the members, having been the former RAF Innsworth (now Imjin Barracks) gate guardian.

It's been suggested that its the earliest surviving T.7, which would presumably make it the oldest British jet trainer? It's also been mooted that it may have been flown by Lord Norman Tebbit and involved in a mid air collision. Any Meteor experts able to corroborate the above?

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8362/8439786593_214e0998b5_c.jpg
3 Feb 2013 09:18 by Darren Lewington, on Flickr

Original post

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11 years 10 months

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I have a history, well bits of history:

VW453 built by Glosters and awaiting collection 24.5.49

25.5.49 delivered to 203 AFS (Advanced Flying School), based at RAF Driffield. 203 AFS were the first unit to use the Meteor T.7 in any numbers.

1.12.49 transferred to 604 Sqdn, based at RAF North Weald. Involved in a flying accident 21.10.50, declared Cat 4. Three days later reasessed as Cat.3 and a team from Glosters arived 10.11.50 to effect repairs on site. Repairs completed 8.2.51 and returned to 604 Sqdn day after. Again damaged 7.7.52 an declared Cat.3, repaired by Glosters again on site between 21.8.52 and 1.11.52, whence back to 604 Sqdn.

18.6.53 loaned to Takali, Malta and damaged there 27.9.54, returned to Glosters in UK

25.10.54 arrived at Glosters for repair in the factory

14.7.55 delivered to 20 MU at RAF Aston Down where it was stored.

18.3.57 allocated to CA (no decode for this abbreviation)

By 1.77 the aircraft was with the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down, and by now a composite airframe with WA709, parts of the original aircraft went to Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

Oh dear, found this history in a survey of the background of all surviving Meteors in a 1980 local aviation group magazine, clearly compiled using the AM History Cards. This particuar airframe history rather peters away though. Clearly I cannot substantiate the claims in the final paragraphs.

Some gaps to fill, I hand the baton onto others ............

As to the question of the oldest surviving Gloster Meteor T.7. Well VW453 is in the first batch of registrations allocated to production T.7s for the RAF, VW410 to VW459 - so is presumably the 44th built for the RAF. Two F.4s were converted to T.7s: EE530 and EE573, while the prototype G-AKPK (f/f 19.3.48 at Moreton Valence) was delivered to the Royal Dutch Air Force 11.48 as their first. Certainly there are no earlier RAF T.7 aircraft in my 1980 UK survivors listing, what I don't know is if there were any early production aircraft supplied to the R.Netherlands Air Force before 5.49, and if so, if they survive! I'm sure someone does though!

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Thanks viscount.

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It was with the A&AEE in 1964 and was coded "3"

Photograph available from www.mar.co.uk

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I photographed VW453 stored with 5 MU at Kemble in April 1971. I believe many of the last of the RAF's Meteors went there for storage and then they had a clear-out of the storage hangars and all were parked on the grass, presumably for scrapping. Thankfully a few were rescued including VW453.

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VW417 is still displayed on a pole at the gate of Leeuwarden AFB in The Netherlands. That should predate it. Just.

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Meteor T.7 VW453

I have a history, well bits of history:

18.3.57 allocated to CA (no decode for this abbreviation)

I'd suggest the "allocated to CA" was in fact C(A), as in Controller (Aircraft), Ministry of...Supply/Aviation/Defence (Procurement Executive), as the department was successively named over the years

In other words, 18.3.57 was the date the VW453 was struck off charge by the RAF as non-operational, but the airframe had a further life "off the books" (as far as the RAF were concerned) as a test flying aircraft. As others had suggested, probably with the A&AEE at Boscombe Down

Re-classified as Cat.5(GI) as 8703M when it became a ground instructional aircraft (at least in theory: in reality, the gate guardian at RAF Innsworth). Wonder how long she's been on the gate at Innsworth? Must have been since the early 1970s at least...

"Wrecks & Relics" gives the potted history of VW453 as "Innsworth: 8703M, ex Salisbury Plain, Hullavington, Ta Qali, 604, 226 OCU, 203 AFS. On Gate."
.

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The history I quote in reply #2 and Wrecks and Relics likely have the same author - which makes me wonder when 226 OCU slipped into the history line. Was 226 OCU formed by renumbering 203 AFS I wonder? (added later on 'edit: Thank you Graham, post 10, sorts that out as the unit was re-numbered while VW453 was serving with it).

As 'Wrecks & Relics' Ken Ellis, then published by Merseyside Aviation Society has been mentioned as a source, I've found a few relevant comments in the oldest editions I've got, from a time when I was selling them mail order for the MAS:

W&R 4 (August '74) Chemical Defence Establishment (CDE) Porton Down, on the perimeter of Boscombe Down has two Whilrwinds. On Salisbury Plain to the SE of Boscombe Down is an unidentified Meteor T.7 used for paint durability trials.

W&R 5 (April '76) essentially the same coment.

W&R 6 (April '78) The Meteor T.7 is now known to be VW453 (ex 5 MU) and was moved from the Plain back to the CDE at Porton Down by 1.77.

W&R 7 (March '80) A Whirlwind and Meteor T.7 VW453 are used for bacteria persistence trials by the CDE on the top of Battery Hill.

W&R 8 (April '82) under Innsworth states that Meteor T.7 VW453/8703M, formerly at Porton Down, arrived at Innsworth 11.11.81 for restoration to static condition and eventual display alongside the Station's Javelin XH903/7938M.

That brings the 'knowledge gap' down to a near twenty year period 1957 to 1974! Keep digging, we're getting there slowly. The 'Hullavington' connection in this period needs expanding on.

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CARG restored it for the gate.

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226 OCU was indeed formed from the existing 203 AFS 1.9.49 at Stradishall.

It had previously moved from Bentwaters on 26.8.49 to Driffield where it disbanded 31.8.1949 to become 203 AFS.

These things happen in a well-organised Service.

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Viscount...

Just a Suggestion, but could "Hullavington" possibly refer to 10 MU, which was based at Hullavington from March 1939 until disbanded on 31/12/1959?

Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._10_Maintenance_Unit_RAF and http://www.controltowers.co.uk/H-K/Hullavington.htm

Post #4 suggested "It was with the A&AEE in 1964 and was coded "3"", so

18/3/1957 - allocated to C(A) MoA
mid-1957 - 10 MU Hullavington (stored)
c.31/12/1959 - A&AEE Boscombe Down (certainly by 1964)

None of the above is definite, just a suggestion (in the light of any other ideas...)

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Thanks, everyone, for the input both on and off forum.

Any leads on the Norman Tebbit story? I've emailed him at his House of Lords address, currently to no avail.

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Norman has a blog on the Telegraph site - ask him there !

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Thanks, everyone, for the input both on and off forum.

Any leads on the Norman Tebbit story? I've emailed him at his House of Lords address, currently to no avail.

Don't e-mail him- write to him - in person! His PA, assistant; secretary will have 101'd your e mail - so 't be able to do that to a letter. Also, you could always ask your MP to ask.

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12 years 1 month

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Meteor VW453

Mornin' All,

In the late 1970's I was working the Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton Down and had quite a bit to do with this particular aircraft. It was devoid of all marking externally and attempts to identify the airframe took some time, however internal panels revealed that the majority of the aircraft was made up of VW453. I know for certain that at least the canopy and frame were from WA709 (it was so marked). I later got involved in attempts to save this composite for preservation and negotiations were fairly advanced when things fell through.

I did manage to get a little info from A&AEE (as was) at Boscombe Down and their reply to my enquiries is below. It probably does not add anything to the story but may prove interesting nevertheless.

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As stated somewhere earlier on in this thread, it was used by the safety department at MRE for bacterial persistence tests but had been thoroughly decontaminated by the time I first got involved with it.

I have photographs of it at Hard Target as well as the two Whirlwinds that were on other trials work with both MRE and CDE if anyone is interested.

QP

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Having trouble posting this, same problems that others seem to have had.

QP

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QueenPee. I'm glad you persevered while the forum server was 'misbehaving'. Lots of useful information tied down in one letter. Delivery to A&AEE, duties with A&AEE, last flight, total hours flown - all highly interesting information for the historian.

It would appear to have gone near enough direct from 20 MU Aston Down storage to A&AEE in 3.58 - or did it go via 10MU Hullavington? Indeed is Hullavington a 'red herring' introduced by 'W&R' in error, instead of the correct, but missing, Boscombe Down? The letter helps considerably in filling in what had been 'missing years' of knowledge. You must be pleased QueenPee that having attempted to get the aircraft into preservation some years ago, that it is now with a dynamic and growing museum collection.

So to combine all the information and discussion posts on this thread:

Time-line history for Meteor T.7 VW453

VW453 built by Glosters and awaiting collection 24.5.49

25.5.49 delivered to 203 AFS (Advanced Flying School), based at RAF Driffield. 203 AFS were the first unit to use the Meteor T.7 in any numbers.

1.9.49 No.203 AFS renamed No.226 OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) at Stradishall

1.12.49 transferred to 604 Sqdn, based at RAF North Weald. Involved in a flying accident 21.10.50, declared Cat 4. Three days later reasessed as Cat.3 and a team from Glosters arived 10.11.50 to effect repairs on site. Repairs completed 8.2.51 and returned to 604 Sqdn day after. Again damaged 7.7.52 an declared Cat.3, repaired by Glosters again on site between 21.8.52 and 1.11.52, whence back to 604 Sqdn.

18.6.53 loaned to Takali, Malta and damaged there 27.9.54, returned to Glosters in UK. Note: Takali as spelt at the time, now correctly Ta Qali.

25.10.54 arrived at Glosters in the UK for repair in the factory

14.7.55 delivered to 20 MU at RAF Aston Down where it was stored (or was this actually 10 MU at Hullavingdon??)

18.3.57 (a paper-work date) allocated to Controller (Aircraft), effectively struck off charge by the R.A.F., with a total flying time of only 381 Hours 25 minutes.

13.3.57 delivered to Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down. Used by A&AEE for 'hack' duties such as tasks involving photo-chase, instrumentation and navigational development. By 1964 noted to be coded '3'.

23.2.68 last flight with A&AEE. Total airframe time 2048 hours 5 minutes.

--?-- Delivered to 5 MU at Kemble for storage and disposal. By 4.71 in outside storage at 5 MU RAF Kemble

24.3.68 Struck off Charge, VW453's flying days were officially over.

--?-- Airframe passed to the CDE (Chemical Defense Establishment) at Porton Down and used by MRE (Microbacterial Research Establishment) for testing bacterial persistance out in the open on Salisbury Plain.

by 1.77 airframe, (now known to have incorporated parts of WA709 eg cockpit canopy & frame), moved back into the CDE compound at Porton Down, by now decontaminated.

11.11.81 VW453 transported to RAF Innsworth. As a Cat.5(GI) allocated 'Maintenance Number' 8703M. Aircraft restored by CARG (Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group) over a number of years at Innsworth.

5.3.94 unveiled on the gate at RAF Innsworth, replacing former gate guardian, a Javelin XH903 which had left the site by October '93. Painted as VW453/Z of 604 Sqdn (yellow & red triangles formed fuselage flash)

late.12 Purchased on behalf of the Jet Age Museum at Staverton.

OK, the only uncertain information included above is the reference to a period at Hullavington in 'Wrecks & Relics'. There is a need to confirm and tie down when she was delivered to 5 MU at Kemble and when she was delivered to Porton Down.

Took a while, but the airframe history has come together well and makes for an interesting read.

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18 years

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Thank you all so much for your efforts in piecing together this history.

I've had an off-forum message, which included the following too.

METEOR T.7 VW453 – HISTORY

Built by the Gloster Aircraft Company against Contract 6/Aircraft/1389

Gloster Test flights

3.5.49 Flown by Jim Cooksey, 20 mins duration, recorded as ‘Test Flight’. At this stage of his career Jim did not record maiden flights as such in his log book. It is possible the flight on this date was VW453’s maiden flight but it is just as likely that another Gloster test pilot (Rodney Dryland or Mike Kilburn being likely candidates) had performed the task some time earlier. Jim Cooksey’s log book for the period shows no other entries for VW453.

AM.78 card details

24.5.49 Awaiting Collection
25.5.49 203 AFS
……… Renamed 226 OCU
15.12.49 Transferred 604 Sqn
21.10.50 Cat.4R Flying Accident
24.10.50 58 MU – Re-Cat.3R Flying Accident
10.11.50 3R/Repair on Site/Glosters
8.2.51 Ex Repair on Site/3R
9.2.51 604 Sqn
7.7.52 Cat.3R (Service)
21.8.52 Cat.3R/Repair on Site/Glosters
1.11.52 Ex Cat.3R/Repair on Site/Glosters
31.10.52 604 Sqn
8.6.53 On loan Takali, Malta (signal date 10.6.53)
(11.6.53 additional date for above entry)
27.9.54 Cat.3R
……… 604 Sqn to Glosters Cat.4R (signal date 8.10.54)
25.10.54 Repair in Works?Gloster/Cat.4R
12.7.55 Ex Repair in Works/Gloster/Cat.4R
14.7.55 20 MU (signal date 14.7.55)
(19.7.55 additional date for above entry, signal date 31.7.55)
18.3.57 C (A) Free loan for 3 months
12.6.57 Transferred to C (A) without charge in lieu of VW470 returned to RAF

A&AEE record card details

18.3.57 Acceptance at A&AEE (TT 381.25)
4.11.57 TT 487.35
28.11.58 TT 687.40
4.8.59 Primary Service including re-spray (TT 820.35)
20.8.59 Complete
29.12.59 Minor (TT 881.05)
20.1.60 Air test after Minor (1 hr 10 mins)
3.5.62 Undercarriage failed to9 lower. Wheels-up landed on grass (TT 1387.50) Cat.3 Repair.
1.6.62 Test flight after repair
19.11.62 Minor Inspection (TT 1500.45)
24.1.63 Awaiting air test
(1964 Used regularly for continuation training throughout the year)
27.7.64 In storage awaiting Minor Service (TT 1764.40)
11.8.64 3rd Minor Inspection and modifications until:-
22.1.65 30 minute test flight (TT 1765.40)
31.5.65 Primary and re-spray (TT1811.00)
1.7.65 40 minutes test flight
29.12.65 Primary & UHF & IFF fitment
31.12.65 TT 1872.50
28.4.66 1 hour 10 mins test flight Waterbeach & return (TT 1874.00)
30.12.66 TT 1941.55
26.7.67 U/s at Culdrose, smoke in cockpit.
2.8.67 Returned (to Boscombe Down) (TT 2009.20)
3.8.67 Major Inspection
26.10.67 1 hour test flight after Major (TT 2010.20)
23.2.68 Last flight duration 1 hr 5 mins (TT 2048.05), to await disposal instructions.
24.4.68 Struck Off Charge

An undated comment I wrote alongside 1965/66 entries was ‘Long term need for continuation training until replaced by Hunters’

It was approximately 30 years ago that I transcribed the above A&AEE records but as the aircraft cards should still survive, and may provide more detail than I noted down at the time, I’ll make further enquiries.

I have additional Wrecks & Relics 4/5/6/8/9/10/11/12 & 13 entries for VW453 that I can provide if not gained from elsewhere. In essence the grounded aircraft was with the Chemical Defence Establishement at Porton Down, Wiltshire (adjacent to Boscombe Down), but appears to have spent some time at one or more locations on Salisbury Plain. It arrived at CARG Innsworth from CDE on 11.11.81 for restoration and was handed over to RAF Insworth 14.11.91 after a 10 year restoration programme. During this time it was allocated the RAF maintenance serial 8703M.

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Personal email received yesterday from Lord Tebbit, confirming he flew the aircraft once during his time on 604 Sqn.

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If it's of interest, I took this photograph of VW453 in 1961 when it paid a visit to Little Rissington from Boscombe Down. It had a small protrusion on the nose the purpose of which we couldn't ascertain. Looks a bit like a pitot head or a mount for a camera perhaps.

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