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The Gloster Meteor was the first jet fighter to enter service with the RAF and was the only allied jet fighter to see combat during the Section World War. First flying in 1943, the Meteor entered service with 616 Squadron in July 1944 where they were initially used to combat the V1 flying bomb and to train USAAF bomber crews in tactics to counter the Me-262. Meteors did see service on the continent during the war and whilst they did not score any air-to-air victories, they destroyed dozens of enemy aircraft on the ground. The Meteor continued to see combat with Australia in the Korean war plus other air forces in regional conflicts. The Meteor found a niche due to its unique configuration as an experimental test bed including an aircraft modified to allow the pilot to lie down in a prone position to assess the effects of G force.
Martin Baker have used the Meteor as a test-bed for its ejector seats since the mid-1940s. Uniquely, the Meteor allows Martin Baker to be the only ejector seat manufacturer that has the capability to test its seats using real living test subjects. A number of Meteors have been used over the past 80 years however the current pair were delivered during the 1950s and 1960s. WL419 has seen constant service since 1963 and after years of storage WA638 was returned to flight in 2001.
Martin Baker will be performing a very rare flying demonstration for visitors at the Air Tattoo as part of our SKYTANKER theme when it will perform in formation with the BBMF's Lancaster to recreate the first successful air-to-air refuelling trials in the UK. Photo Credit: Rich Cooper