Gloster Meteor U Mk.15

The Gloster Meteor U Mk.15 was an unmanned target drone created from converted surplus Meteor F Mk.4 fighters. These target drones were used to help develop ground and air launched guided missiles, which needed expendable targets that could be tested to destruction. This role had been being filled by Fairey Firefly U Mk.8s and U Mk.9s, but these aircraft were no longer fast enough to adequately represent the real targets the missiles were being designed to hit – fast Soviet jet fighters and bombers.

Gloster Meteor U Mk.15
Gloster Meteor U Mk.15

The development of the Meteor F Mk.8 meant that a large number of F Mk.4s were no longer needed by the RAF. Autopilot and equipment trials were conducted at RAE Farnborough, using a T Mk.7 as the test bed. A contract was then placed with Flight Refuelling Limited, based at Tarrant Rushton, to convert the first batch of F.4s to the new role. Somewhere between 90 and 94 aircraft were converted to the U Mk.15 standard, starting in 1955. The first of the modified aircraft made its maiden flight on 11 March 1955 and its first remote landing in the next month. The conversion involved fitting additional radio equipment, a fully automatic pilot, a remote control system that could be used to control the aircraft from the ground and wingtip camera pods that could be ejected automatically or by radio command just before the missile impact.

Most of these aircraft were delivered to the Woomera Weapons Research Establishment in Australia, arriving from 1955. The first unmanned flight at Woomera was made on 7 May 1957, and saw the drone destroyed by a Fireflash missile. Twenty of the aircraft were delivered to RAF Llanbedr in North Wales, making their first flight over Cardigan Bay on 17 July 1958. Finally a small number of drones went to No.728B Squadron, Royal Navy, at Hal Far (Malta). Over time the number of U.15s remaining began to dwindle, and a similar number of F Mk.8s would be converted to the U Mk.16 standard.

Gloster Meteor, Britain's Celebrated First-Generation Jet, Phil Butler and Tony Buttler. This is a detailed, well illustrated and well written look at the development and service history of the Gloster Meteor, both in British and overseas hands. The book covers the development of the E.28/39, Britain's first jet aircraft and the development of the Meteor, looks in detail at the prototype aircraft, the various versions of the Meteor and its British and overseas service careers. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 February 2008), Gloster Meteor U Mk.15 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_gloster_meteor_15.html

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