Overseas Operators of the Gloster Meteor

Argentina

Argentina became the first overseas operator of the Meteor, ordering 100 F Mk.4s in May 1947. Deliveries began later in 1947, and the Meteor remained in service until 1970. The Argentinean Meteors only saw service during the two revolts of 1955. In the first revolt in the summer of 1955 a loyalist Meteor shot down a rebel AT-6 trainer. In the second revolt, in the autumn of 1955, both sides operated the Meteor. The rebels seized four Meteors, losing one of them to an accidental explosion, while the Government Meteors were used to attack the rebel held destroyers Rioja and Cervantes as they left Rio Santiago. One ship was badly damaged, while one of the Meteors was lost. For the last ten years of their service career in Argentina the Meteors were redesignated as fighter bombers.

Australia

Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa had all been given a single F Mk.3 in 1946 for jet indoctrination and evaluation purposes. No sales had followed from any of these loans, but in 1950 the RAAF found itself involved in the Korean War. Attempts were made to purchase a number of North American F-86 Sabres, but there was no spare production capacity for that aircraft, and so the RAAF was forced to turn to the Meteor. A total of 94 F Mk.8s and nine T Mk.7s were diverted from RAF orders, with deliveries beginning early in 1951.

The Meteor served in Korea with No.77 Squadron, RAAF, from June 1951 until the cease fire of 27 July 1953. The Meteor was outclassed by the MiG-15, suffering a series of losses in early dog fights, before Flg. Off. Bruce Gogerly scored the Meteor’s first victory over a MiG on 1 December 1951. The Meteor was then reequipped to carry out ground attack missions, destroying sixteen bridges and thousands of vehicles. By the end of the war No.77 Squadron had lost 54 Meteors from all causes, returning to Australia in December 1954 with 41 F Mk.8s and three T Mk.7s.

Once back in Australia No.77 squadron continued to operate the Meteor, and some aircraft were transferred to No.75 squadron. They were then replaced by the CA-27 Sabre, and the Meteors were passed on to the Citizens Air Force, where they equipped Nos.22 and 23 Squadrons before finally retiring in 1960. 

Belgium

Belgium was the largest overseas customer for the Meteor, operating a total of 355 aircraft. The first aircraft to enter Belgian service with three T Mk.7s, delivered in 1948. These were followed by 48 Meteor F Mk.4s, with deliveries beginning in 1949. Another nine T.7s arrived in 1951 and a final eleven in 1952, while twenty of the F Mk.4s were later converted to act as trainers.

Replaced by F.Mk.8s, first ordered then 150 built under license by Fokker in the Netherlands on production line opened in April 1949, rest assembled by Fairey from Fokker or Gloster parts (Avions Fairey)

Belgium received a total of 240 Meteor F Mk.8s. Of these 145 were built under license by Fokker at Schiphol and another 67 were built by Avions Fairey at Gosselies, thirty from parts supplied by Fokker and thirty seven from parts supplied by Gloster. All 240 aircraft were in service by August 1954. The remaining 28 aircraft were ex-RAF aircraft. Twelve squadrons were equipped with the Mk.8 during the early 1950s, before the type was replaced by the Hawker Hunter.

The Belgian Air Force also operated twenty-four Meteor NF Mk.11s, which were used to replace Mosquito night fighters in Nos.10 and 11 Squadrons. These aircraft remained in service until 1959, when they were replaced by Avro Canada CF-100s.

Brazil

Brazil ordered sixty F.Mk.8s and ten F.Mk.7s, operating them as the F.8 and TF.7 respectively. The F.8s were equipped to carry under-wing rockets and bombs, and served as interceptors and ground attack aircraft, replacing the Thunderbolt. Squadron conversion began in September 1953, and the Meteor remained in service for over a decade, finally being retired in 1968 because of wing spar metal fatigue caused by low level flying. The last TF.7 was withdrawn in 1971. One final Meteor F.Mk.8 was acquired later, and served as a target tug from 1970 until 1974. A rather unusual feature of this particular sale was that Brazil paid the British government in cotton to get around a shortage of convertible currency with Gloster then receiving the value of the cotton. 

Canada

A small number of Meteors were operated by the RCAF for experimental purposes. These included three F Mk.IIIs and a single F Mk.IV used for engine re-heat experiments.

Denmark

Denmark ordered twenty F Mk.IVs to equip the 3rd Air Flotilla of the Danish Navy. These aircraft entered serving in October 1949. On 1 October 1950 the Army and Navy air services merged to form the Royal Danish Air Force, and the 3rd Air Flotilla became No. 723 Squadron. The Mk.IVs were replaced by twenty F Mk.8s early in 1952. The Mk.8s were phased out in favour of the Hawker Hunter between 1956 and 1962. Denmark also operated twenty NF Mk.11s, which were delivered between November 1952 and March 1953.

Ecuador

Although Ecuador was one of the smaller operators of the Meteor, it was also operated the aircraft for longer than  just about any other country. Twelve FR Mk.9s were ordered in May 1954, equipping one squadron of the Ecuadorian Air Force from 1954-55 until they were finally replaced by SEPECAT Jaguars in the late 1970s, after a career of over twenty years.

Egypt

Egypt was the first of three Middle Eastern countries to operate the Meteor (with Syria and Israel). Her first order was placed in 1948, but the rising tension in the region led to the imposition of a series of arms embargos, which complicated the picture somewhat. Twelve F Mk.4s were eventually delivered between October 1949 and May 1950, along with three T Mk.7s. Twenty four F Mk.8s were ordered. Four of the first batch of twelve had been completed before another arms embargo prevented their delivery. These aircraft were then split between Israel and Brazil. Egypt got her final eight F Mk.8s in 1955, along with three more T Mk.7s and six NF Mk.13s, all ex-RAF aircraft. Some of these aircraft took part in the fighting during the Suez crisis of 1956, one of them damaging an RAF Valiant bomber, while the RAF claimed to have destroyed a number of the Egyptian aircraft. Two years later the remaining Meteors were replaced by more modern Soviet aircraft.

France

French involvement with the Meteor began in 1948, when the first of two F Mk.IVs arrived for evaluation. They were followed by two T Mk.7s, originally ordered by Syria, which arrived in 1951.

The biggest French order came in 1953, for a total of forty-one NF Mk.11s and eleven T Mk.7s. Thirty-two of the NF Mk.11 were used to replace the Mosquito night fighter with the Escadre de Chasse (EC) 30, while the remaining nine went to the Centre d’Essais en Vol (Flight Test Centre), where they were used as equipment test beds. The night fighters were replaced by the Sud-Ouest Vautour IIN in 1957-58, but the CEV aircraft remaining in use until the late 1980s, and were later joined by two NF Mk.13s and two NF Mk.14s.

One detachment from EC 30 saw combat in Algeria in 1957, operating from Bone. The test aircraft were used in a wide variety of experiments, including radar and missile tests and during the development of Concorde.

Holland

Although many sources suggest that the Dutch were the largest overseas operator of the Meteor, that honour actually goes to Belgium, with the Dutch in second position. The Dutch eventually purchased 64 F Mk.IIIs, 45 T Mk.7s and 160 F Mk.8s.

The F Mk.IIIs were ordered from June 1947, with deliveries to the Fighter School at Twenthe beginning in the following year. A total of seven squadrons of the Royal Dutch Air Force would use the Mk.4 (Nos. 322-328, with the numbers chosen to commemorate Second World War RAF squadrons that had been manned by Dutch volunteers).

In July 1948 N V Fokker signed an agreement allowing it to build Meteors under licence at Schiphol. During the early 1950s Fokker built 155 F Mk.8s for the Dutch Air Force as well as 145 complete aircraft and thirty kits for the Belgian Air Force. The Dutch also received five ex-RAF F Mk.8s, giving them a total of 150 aircraft. These aircraft were used to equip the same seven squadrons as the Mk.4, remaining in service until replaced by the Hawker Hunter from 1956.

Israel

Israel was the third Middle Eastern state to get the Meteor, after Egypt and Syria. In the early 1950s the United States was unwilling to sell jet aircraft to Israel. Having sold Meteors to their hostile neighbours, the British were willing to sell Israel a limited number of aircraft, at least partly in an attempt to maintain a balance of power in the region.

These aircraft were delivered in three batches. In 1953 Israel received four T Mk.7s and eleven F Mk.8s, all new aircraft. The F Mk.8s were modified to carry American HVAR rockets but were otherwise identical to RAF aircraft.

Gloster Meteor F Mk.8 of the Israeli Air Force
Gloster Meteor F Mk.8 of the Israeli Air Force

The second batch contained seven refurbished FR Mk.9s and two more T Mk.7s, and was delivered in 1955. Finally, in 1956 Israel received six NF Mk.13s, three before and three after the Suez crisis. These were the last Meteors acquired from Britain. Five more T Mk.7s were later purchased from Avions Fairey. These aircraft were converted from ex-Belgian F Mk.4s but were given the Mk.8 tail.

The Mk.8s remained in front line service until 1956, when they began to be replaced by the Dassault Mystere. They were then used as training aircraft. The NF Mk.13s remained in use until 1964.

During the Suez crisis Egypt, Israel and the United Kingdom all possessed Meteors, but although all three countries used their Meteors in or around the canal zone, no clashes are recorded between Meteors. This was partly because the Israelis realised that the Meteor was outclassed by the Egyptian MiG-15s, and avoided using them as pure fighter aircraft.  

New Zealand

A single F Mk.3 was sent to New Zealand for evaluation in 1946. In 1946-7 it was used by the Jet Propulsion Unit at Ohakea to introduce pilots to jet aircraft, before being placed in storage in 1947. It was scrapped in 1957.

South Africa

The South Africa Air Force was loaded one Meteor Mk.III for evaluation purposes, returning it to the RAF in 1949. No orders followed.

Sweden

The Royal Swedish Air Force never directly operated the Meteor, but three T Mk.7s (from Britain) and four TT Mk.20s (from Denmark) were operated by Svensk Flygtjänst AB between 1955 and 1974. This was a private company employed to carry out target-towing duties for the air forces of both Denmark and Sweden.

Syria

Syria placed an initial order for two T Mk.7s and twelve F Mk.8s in January 1950. Delivery of these aircraft was delayed by a Middle East arms embargo, imposed in 1951. Deliveries of the Mk.8s eventually began in December 1952, with all twelve aircraft reaching Syria, but the Mk.7s had remained at the Gloster works, where they were used to train Syrian pilots on their new aircraft, and were still in Britain when another arms embargo was imposed. The two aircraft eventually went to France. Some sources suggest that another pair of Mk.7s went to Syria, but this is uncertain.

A second batch of Meteors went to Syria in 1956. This consisted of seven F Mk.8s, two FR Mk.9s and six NF Mk.13s, all from surplus RAF stocks. It had been hoped that these limited arms sales might keep Syria out of the Soviet block, but by the end of the 1950s all of the Meteors had been replaced by Soviet aircraft.

Overseas Operators by Mark

 

F.3

F.4

T.7

F.8

FR.9

NF.11

NF.13

NF.14

U.21

Totals

Argentina

 

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

Australia

1

 

9

94

 

1

 

 

c.40

145

Belgium

 

48

43

240

 

24

 

 

 

355

Brazil

 

 

10

61

 

 

 

 

 

71

Canada

3

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denmark

 

20

9

20

 

20

 

 

 

69

Egypt

 

12

6

12

 

 

6

 

 

36

France

 

2

14

 

 

41

2

2

 

61

Holland

 

64

45

160

 

 

 

 

 

270

Israel

 

 

6

11

7

 

6

 

 

30

New Zealand

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

South Africa

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Sweden

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

Syria

 

 

2?

19

2

 

6

 

 

29

Ecuador

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

12

Totals

3

247

147

617

21

86

20

2

40

 

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 (13 Febuary 2008), Overseas Operators of the Gloster Meteor, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_gloster_meteor_overseas.html

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