The second World War had seriously affected Great Britain’s abilities to proceed with airliner development, and it was realised that the USA would have virtual domination in this field unless steps were taken to catch up. The Brabazon Committee was formed in 1943 to look into Britain’s post war aviation prospects, and a series of recommendations was issued in 1944; one of these was to produce an advanced turbojet powered airliner for BOAC.
During the early stages of WWII, the American built Curtiss P-40B proved to be one of the most important fighter aircraft available to Allied Air Forces. Flying with the RAF in North Africa and the American Volunteer Group in China, the Allison V-1710-33 powered P-40B was to became one of the most distinctive fighters of the entire war, wearing their fearsome shark-mouth artwork.
Designed at the height of the Cold War during the 1950s, the English Electric Lightning was the only all British Mach 2 fighter to enter service with the RAF, where its performance placed it well ahead of contemporary rivals. The Lightning’s engines were positioned in a unique staggered stacked installation and their huge power gave the Lightning an exceptional rate of climb, service ceiling and top speed. The F1 version of the Lightning entered service in 1959, with the improved F1A following in 1961. Various improved versions of the Lightning were introduced through the 1960s, all of them attempting to either improve the endurance of the aircraft, an area in which the Lightning struggled, or the lack of armament options for the type. While successive variants did improve these areas, the Lightning was still hampered by them up until its eventual replacement in the late 1980s.
Developed as a small, lightweight and manoeuvrable fighter, the Folland Gnat was never accepted into RAF service in that role. However, after being re-designed with two seats, it found its niche as a superb trainer and its small size and excellent aerobatic capability made it a natural choice for the RAF’s aerobatic teams. The Yellow Jacks first used the Gnat to great effect, before the Red Arrows used it as their first aircraft.
Historically, the Gloster Meteor was Britain’s first jet fighter and the only Allied jet aircraft to see service during the Second World War. The F.8 variant of the Meteor was perhaps the definitive incarnation of this famous aircraft and was the main RAF fighter throughout the 1950’s
Developed as a small, lightweight and manoeuvrable fighter, the Folland Gnat was never accepted into RAF service in that role. However, after being re-designed with two seats, it found its niche as a superb trainer and its small size and excellent aerobatic capability made it a natural choice for the RAF’s aerobatic teams. The Yellow Jacks first used the Gnat to great effect, before the Red Arrows used it as their first aircraft.Designed by W.E.W Petter, the Gnat entered RAF service in 1962 giving trainee pilots the perfect first experience of fast jets before they moved onto the Hunters and Lightnings they would fly on front line duties. Eventually the introduction of the Hawk jet trainer meant the end for the Gnat and they were phased out of RAF service in the late 1970s. A large number were however passed to private operators where they still continue to be displayed at air shows.
The Spitfire Mk1 has come to be seen as a symbol of 'The Few', vital to the defense of the United Kingdom against the previously all-conquering Luftwaffe.Along with the Hurricane, it cemented its place in history during the Battle of Britain and continues now to be a hugely desirable 'warbird' at air shows.