Gloster Javelin

Gloster Javelin FAW.9 XH897
Gloster Javelin FAW.9 - XH897
Design and Development

The Javelin began with a 1947 Air Ministry requirement for a high-performance night fighter that led to orders for prototypes under specification F.44/46 of two of the competing designs, the Gloster GA.5 and the de Havilland DH.110 which was also under consideration for the Royal Navy. When it appeared that the Gloster design would be ready sooner and would be simpler and cheaper to build, the de Havilland submission was rejected. Though the company was to continue development of the DH.110 as a private venture that eventually resulted in the naval Sea Vixen. The Gloster design had a distinctive appearance, its broad delta wings surmounted by a large finned T-tail. The F.44/46 specification subsequently became F.4/48 related to the "Operational Requirement" OR.227.

Initial flight of the first GA.5 prototype, WD804, was on 26th November 1951 with Gloster chief test pilot Squadron Leader W.A. "Bill" Waterton at the controls. The prototype was unarmed and otherwise not fitted with combat kit. It tended to buffet and flutter badly at high speeds, with the final result that it shook off both elevators on 29th June 1952. Sqn Ldr Waterton managed to get the machine back down on the ground without injury to himself, though the aircraft was a write off.

The second prototype, WD808, made its initial flight on 20th August 1952, but it spent most of the rest of the year on the ground while Gloster engineers worked on the buffet and flutter problems. It returned to the air in early 1953, but was unfortunately lost in a stall on 11th June 1953, killing the pilot, Peter Lawrence. The third prototype, WT827, performed its first flight on 7th March 1953, it was the first prototype to feature armament and radar. The fourth prototype, WT827, took to the air on 14th January 1954, to be soon passed on to the government Aircraft & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down for trials. The fifth and final prototype, WT836, performed its first flight on 20th July 1954.

Although the trials demonstrated a number of handling problems that proved difficult to work out, a production order for the GA.5 had been placed in 1952, with the type to be formally designated "Javelin Fighter All Weather Mark 1 (FAW.1)". Initial flight of the Javelin FAW.1 was on 22nd July 1954, with test pilot "Dicky" Martin at the controls. While many of the FAW.1s were used for test and trials, they were delivered in enough numbers to build up two RAF squadrons in West Germany in early 1956. There were still enough difficulties with the type to force the RAF to specify an unusual level of limits on the manoeuvre's that could be performed with it.

By the end of 1956, the Javelin was up to a FAW.7 variant, which was the first to actually meet the specifications of the original Air Ministry requirement, and which was to become the definitive version of the aircraft (most of which were later altered to the FAW.9 standard). Indeed, the Javelin was evolving so quickly that deliveries of the FAW.8 began before FAW.7 production had ended. As a result, the final 80 FAW.7 aircraft went straight from the factory into storage, eventually flying after being remanufactured as FAW.9s.

Several variants were proposed and investigated but not produced, including reconnaissance versions, a fighter bomber version with underwing panniers for bombs, and a supersonic variant with area-ruled fuselage, thinner wings, and a new tail. The "thin wing Javelin" would have been capable of about Mach 1.6 and with a higher ceiling than contemporary US designs. Initial work started with fitting a thinner section wing to a Javelin fuselage but as the project developed the changes became so great that it would effectively have been a different aircraft albeit having an outward resemblance to the Javelin. The final incarnation of the thin wing Javelin just before cancellation was a large aircraft carrying two Red Dean all aspect missiles as a possible contender for Operational Requirement F.155.

Operational History

The Javelin entered service with the RAF in 1956 with No.46 Squadron based at RAF Odiham, and at its peak (in the years 1959 to 1962), equipped 14 squadrons. After 1962, numbers dropped rapidly and, by 1964, only four squadrons were flying the type.

The closest that the RAF's Javelins came to combat was during the Malaysian Confrontation with Indonesia from September 1963 until August 1966. Javelins of No.60 Squadron, later joined by No.64 Squadron operated out of RAF Tengah, Singapore flying combat patrols over the jungles of Malaysia. In 1964, an Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules crashed while trying to evade interception by a Javelin. During June 1967, following the disbandment of No.64 Squadron, No.60 Squadron were deployed to Kai Tak, Hong Kong because of unrest in the colony during China's Cultural Revolution. Javelins were also deployed to Zambia during the early stages of Rhodesia's UDI, to protect Zambia from any action by the Rhodesian Air Force. The last of the type was withdrawn from service in 1968 with the disbandment of No.60 Squadron at RAF Tengah at the end of April 1968. One aircraft remained flying with the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down until 24th January 1975.

Production Summary
Prototypes5 built
FAW.140 built
FAW.230 built
T.336 built
FAW.450 built
FAW.564 built
FAW.633 Mk.5 upgrades
FAW.7142 built
FAW.9116 Mk.7 upgrades
FAW.9R 40 Mk.9's fitted with in-flight refuelling probes
Specifications(Gloster Javelin FAW Mk 9)
Length:56 ft 9 in (17.15 m)
Width:52 ft (15.85 m)
Accommodation:Two, pilot and radar operator
Empty Weight:28,036lbs (12,717kg)
MTOW:41,991lbs (19,047kg)
Max Speed:710 mph (1,140 km/h)
Max Range:954 mi (1,530 km)
Rate-of-Climb:5,400 ft/min (27.45 m/s)
Service Ceiling:52,800 ft (15,865 m)
Engine:2× Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire 7R turbojets, 12,300 lbf (54 kN) each
Armament Standard:4x 30 mm ADEN cannons
Up to four de Havilland Firestreak air-to-air missiles.