Gloster Javelin FAW1
Intended to be the RAF’s first all-weather fighter the Gloster Javelin suffered a protracted development and shaky entry into service before going on to become one of the RAF’s most popular aircraft of the 1950s.
In 1948 the Gloster Aircraft Company were awarded a contract to build five examples of their G.A.5 aircraft designed to meet Air Ministry specification F.4/48 for an all-weather fighter. The number of aircraft to be built was later reduced but subsequently raised to ten, these changes interrupted the programme mid-stride and resulted in a delay of more than a year.
Production of the first GA.5 began in April 1949 but was not completed until 26 November 1951. The flight test programme was marred by the loss of two of the prototypes due to aerodynamic causes and the long development time and accidents inevitably drew the attention, and criticism, of the press and even Members of Parliament.
The first production GA.5 FAW.1, by now christened “Javelin”, made its maiden flight on 22 July 1954 and the type was released into RAF service on 30 November 1954. Unfortunately the Javelin’s early career was blighted by unservicability, aircraft unavailability due to post-production modifications and accidents. Once established in service, however, the Javelin proved a popular aircraft with its crews despite having some undesirable flight characteristics when approaching the limits.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Javelin was developed from the FAW.1 through to the FAW.9, the later models being armed with air-to-air missiles, and served wherever the RAF went. Javelin squadrons served in the UK, with the British Air Forces of Occupation in Germany, on detachment in Cyprus and provided support to Zambia during the Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The last Javelin left frontline service in April 1968 having been replaced with the English Electric Lightning F.3.