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Gloster E.28/39

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Gloster E.28/39
Image:GlosterG40.jpg
Description
RoleExperimental
Crewone, pilot
Dimensions
Length7.74m25' 4"
Wingspan8.84m29'
Height2.70m8' 10"
Wing area13.6m²146 ft²
Weights
Empty1,309 kg2,886 lb
Loaded1,700 kg3,748 lb
Powerplant
Engine1 x Power Jets W.1 turbojet
Thrust16.4 kN3,700 lbf
Performance
Maximum speed544km/h328 mph
Range660km411 miles
Service ceiling9,755m32,000 ft
Rate of climb
Armament
None - provision for 4x .303 Browning machine guns

The Gloster E.28/39, (also referred to as the "Gloster Whittle", "Gloster Pioneer", or "Gloster G.40") was the first jet engined aircraft to fly in the United Kingdom.

In September 1939, the Air Ministry issued a specification to Gloster for an aircraft to test one of Frank Whittle's turbojet designs in flight. Working closely with Whittle, Gloster's chief designer George Carter laid out a small low-wing aircraft of conventional configuration. The jet intake was in the nose, and the tail was mounted atop the exhaust. A contract for two prototypes was signed by the Air Ministry on February 3 1940 and the first of these was completed by April 1941.

The aircraft was delivered to Hucclecote for ground tests beginning on April 7, using a non-flightworthy version of the Power Jets W.1 engine. With these satisfactorily completed, the aircraft was fitted with a new engine, and on May 15, Gloster's chief test pilot, Flt Lt Gerry Sayer flew the aircraft under jet power for the first time from RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. The flight lasted seventeen minutes and was a complete success. Tests continued with increasingly refined versions of the engine over the following months.

The second prototype joined the test programme on March 1 1943, initially powered by a Rover W2B engine. It was destroyed on July 30 in a crash resulting from an aileron failure. The first prototype continued flight tests until 1944.

Experience with the E.28/39 paved the way for Britain's first jet fighter aircraft, the Gloster Meteor. The E.28/39 specification had actually required the aircraft to carry two Browning .303 machine guns in each wing, but these were never fitted.

In 1946, the first prototype was placed in the British Science Museum (London), where it is still exhibited. A full sized model has been erected on an obelisk on a roundabout near the northern perimeter of Farnborough airfield in Hampshire as a memorial to Sir Frank Whittle.

The E.28/39 designation comes from the aircraft having been built to the 28th 'Experimental' specification issued by the Air Ministry in 1939.


See also List of World War II jet aircraft


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