Ray Seaver - Limitations of the Meteors

Running time
1 min 37 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Initially the air force wanted Sabres but the Americans didn't have enough to release them and so the British came up with the Meteor and the original purpose of the Meteor was to engage in air to air fighting enough but at high altitude the aeroplane was not good and it had restrictions on its speed limit as well, what they call a critical mach number which is, because of the design of the aeroplane and design of the wings you can only get to a certain speed before you start encountering shock waves or you run up against what is effectively a sound barrier, you get a very sharp increase in drag and the aeroplane just won't go any faster and, in fact, its flight controls become affected and the aeroplane behaves badly.

So, you've got to maintain, with the Sabres and Migs, they could go through the sound barrier because of the particular design, particularly the swept wing which tends to increase your critical mach number. The Meteor that we had was the Mark 8 which was a short wing one which meant that at low altitude it was very manoeuvrable but at high altitude it didn't have good enough high-speed lift characteristics. At higher altitudes it was not a good aeroplane.

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