Gloster E.28/39

Gloster E.28/39

infobox Aircraft
name =Gloster E.28/39
type =Experimental prototype
manufacturer =Gloster Aircraft Company

caption =The first E.28/39 prototype "W4041/G"
designer =George Carter
first flight =15 May avyear|1941
introduced =
retired =
status =
primary user =Royal Aircraft Establishment
more users =
produced =
number built =2 prototypes
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =
The Gloster E.28/39, (also referred to as the "Gloster Whittle", "Gloster Pioneer", or "Gloster G.40") was the first British jet engined aircraft to fly in the United Kingdom. Developed to test the new Whittle jet engine in flight, the test results would influence the development of an operational fighter, the Gloster Meteor.

Design and development

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-fin and elevators were mounted above the jet-pipe. A contract for two prototypes was signed by the Air Ministry on 3 February 1940 and the first of these was completed by April 1941. Building started in Hucclecote near Gloucester, but was later moved to Regent Motors in Cheltenham High St (now the Regent Arcade), considered a location safer from bombing.

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


The aircraft was delivered to Hucclecote for ground tests beginning on 7 April 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 15 May, Gloster's chief test pilot, Flight Lieutenant Gerry Sayer flew the aircraft under jet power for the first time from RAF Cranwell, near Sleaford in Lincolnshire. The flight lasted 17 minutes and was a complete success. Tests continued with increasingly refined versions of the engine over the following months. Later in the test program, small, auxiliary fins were added near the tips of the tailplanes to provide additional stability in high-speed flight. Winchester 2005, p. 83.] 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.

The second prototype (Serial "W4046") joined the test programme on 1 March 1943, initially powered by a Rover W2B engine. Testing had revealed problems with engine oil and lubricants. The second prototype was destroyed on 30 July in a crash resulting from an aileron failure, attributed to the use of the wrong type of grease in the aileron controls. One aileron had "stuck in position, sending the aircraft out of control" . The test pilot successfully bailed out.

The first prototype continued flight tests until 1944 by which time, more advanced turbojet-powered aircraft were available. Although the Gloster E.28/39 was not able to achieve high speeds, it proved to be a capable experimental platform and exhibited a "good climb rate and ceiling" Winchester 2005, p. 83.] . Moreover, experience with the E.28/39 paved the way for Britain's first operational jet fighter aircraft, the Gloster Meteor.


In 1946, the first prototype (Serial "W4041") was placed in the Science Museum in Central London, where it is still exhibited. A full-size replica has been placed on an obelisk on a roundabout near the northern perimeter of Farnborough airfield in Hampshire as a memorial to Sir Frank Whittle. A similar full-size model is on display in the middle of a roundabout at Lutterworth in Leicestershire (pictured below) where the aircraft's engine was produced.

A full-scale model taken from the same moulds, with authentic paint scheme and detailing, has been built by members of the Jet Age Museum in Gloucester. It has recently been on display in Brockworth, Gloucester, at the Kemble Air Day and MVT Show also at Kemble, and formed part of the display for the Sir Frank Whittle Centenary commemorations at RAF Cranwell in June 2007.


*Royal Aircraft Establishment

pecifications (Gloster E.28/39)

aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
length main=25 ft 4 in
length alt=7.74 m<
span main=29 ft 0 in
span alt=8.84 m
height main=8 ft 10 in
height alt=2.70 m
area main=146 ft²
area alt=13.6 m²
empty weight main=2,886 lb
empty weight alt=1,309 kg
loaded weight main=3,748 lb
loaded weight alt=1,700 kg
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
engine (jet)=Power Jets W.1
type of jet=turbojet
number of jets=1
thrust main=860 lbf
thrust alt=3.8 kN
max speed main=338 mph at 10,000 ft
max speed alt=544 km/h at 3,050 m
range main=410 mi
range alt=460 km
ceiling main=32,000 ft
ceiling alt=9,755 m
climb rate main=1,063 ft/min
climb rate alt=5.9 m/s
loading main=lb/ft²
loading alt=kg/m²
*None; provision for 4× 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns

ee also

similar aircraft=

see also=
*Heinkel He 178 - world's first turbojet aircraft.
*Heinkel He 280 - first turbojet-powered fighter design
*Messerschmitt Me 262 - world's first operational jet fighter.
*Gloster Meteor - first British jet fighter to see combat in the Second World War.
*Bell P-59A - first US jet fighter design
*P-80 Shooting Star - first US operational jet-fighter aircraft.
*Gloster E.1/44 - Gloster's third jet design to fly
List of World War II jet aircraft




* James, Derek N. "Gloster Aircraft since 1917." London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-807-0.
* Mondey, David. "The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II". London: Chancellor Press, 1994. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.
* Morgan, Eric B. "A New Concept of Flight" "Twentyfirst Profile" Vol. 1, no.8. New Milton, Hantfordshire, UK: 21st Profile Ltd. ISBN 0-961-8120-04.
* Swanborough, Gordon. "British Aircraft at War, 1939-1945". East Sussex, UK: HPC Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-9531421-0-8.
* Winchester, Jim. "X-Planes and Prototypes". London: Amber Books Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-904687-40-7.

External links

* [ Meteor Flight]

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