Gloster Javelin

Even in the early postwar period, it was evident that the first generation of jet fighters would soon be obsolete, and in the UK Specification F.3/46 was issued to develop a day fighter replacement for the Meteor. Gloster was one of the companies invited, and its P.234 represented an embryonic ancestor to what would become the Javelin. Perhaps retaining just a whiff of the Meteor lineage, this large single-seater would have had a delta wing and V-tail; armament would have been a massive 4.5-inch recoilless rifle. The P.234 would remain unbuilt, but the basic idea was to evolve into a two-seater with a T-tail, recognizable as a nascent Javelin.

There was much development work yet to do, with Sapphires replacing the originally specified Avon engines, and 30mm and (eventually) Firestreak AAMs substituting for the recoilless weapon, but the eventual GA.5 design was picked as the RAF’s next night fighter, beating out de Havilland’s DH.110.

The first of six prototype Javelins flew in November 1951, and gradually features such as a longer canopy, compound sweep, and the production radome were tried out. Production aircraft began arriving in July 1954, but it would not be until early 1956 that No.46 Squadron would be operational with the type.

As advanced Lightnings became available and Phantom deliveries neared, the Javelin force was run down, with the last operational examples retiring from No.60 Squadron at Tengah in the spring of 1968. The Javelin never fired a shot in anger (at least officially) although one FAW.9 is rumored to have scored a “kill” of sorts during the confrontation with Indonesia, with an IAF C-130B said to have crashed during an attempt to slip away from the RAF fighter.


Javelin Bibliography:

“British Launch New Delta Wing Fighter” Aviation Week December 10, 1951 p.15 includes a frontal photo of the prototype
“Peerless Defender” Flight 18 March 1955 p.362 in-flight photos of Javelin FAW.1 XA550
Photo: Javelin XA557 taking off Flight 3 June 1955 p.750
Photo: Javelin XA627 in flight Flight 31 August 1956 p.362
Photo: side-view of Javelin XH880/No. 25 Squadron Air Pictorial July 1960 p.236
Guy Ellis “Brothers at Arms: Britain’s standoff with Rhodesia, 1965-66” The Aviation Historian 15/April 2016 Includes Javelin photos