The Gloster Meteor NF Mk.14 was the final night fighter version of the Meteor, featuring an improved clear-vision sliding canopy and slightly more powerful engines than the earlier NF Mk.12. The NF Mk.14 also featured an auto-stabiliser, which much improved its stability at high altitude and was the first night fighter variant to carry ejector seats.
There is some disagreement over the length of the NF Mk.14. Some sources suggest that it was longer than the earlier night fighters, with a longer radome designed to carry an improved radar set that was eventually not installed, while other sources report the Mk.14 to have been the same length as the Mk.12. This author has examined photographic evidence, which suggests that the two marks were indeed the same length (assuming that each photograph did indeed represent the mark allocated to it).
The first of the 100 production NF Mk.14 flew on 23 October 1953 with deliveries beginning on 6 November. The last of those aircraft was completed in May 1955, and was the last Meteor to leave the production line.
The NF.14 entered service with No.25 Squadron, in March 1954, and became the standard night fighter until the eventual arrival of the Gloster Javelin, the long delayed dedicated jet night fighter. The NF.14 was a popular aircraft, which gained the nickname “Queen of the Skies”, although by the mid-1950s it was becoming obsolescent – aircraft such as the English Electric Canberra bomber could out-perform it at altitude, causing problems during RAF exercises.
The Meteor NF Mk.14 began to be replaced by the Javelin during 1957, with the last UK-based squadron changing over during 1959. The last RAF frontline operator of the type would be No.60 Squadron, which was equipped with the Meteor from October 1959-September 1961 at Tengah, Singapore, where it provided night cover for British forces engaged in the Malayan Emergency.
From June 1959 until 1965 a number of NF Mk.14s served as training aircraft, first with No.2 Air Navigation School and then with No.1 Air Navigation School. These aircraft had their armament and radar removed, and the radar replaced by a UHF radio set.
Engine: Two Rolls-Royce Derwent 9 engines
Thrust: 3,800lb/ 16.9kN each
Length: 49.9ft or 49.9ft
Gross Weight: 17,287lb
Maximum level speed at 10,000ft: 585mph
Rate of climb at sea level: 5,800ft/min
Cruise Range at normal load: 875 miles
Armament: Four 20mm cannon in wings