Meteor from the Cockpit: Britain's First Jet Fighter. By Peter Caygill. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2010. Photographs. Appendix. Glossary. Index. Pp. 148. $39.95/19.99 [pounds sterling] ISBN: 978-1-84884-219-9
Meteor from the Cockpit is a pilot's view of the first British jet fighter to enter service. Written by Peter Caygill, a leading British aviation author, the book is one in a series he has written describing not only the design and operational history of historic British fighters but also their flying characteristics through detailed test reports and firsthand accounts by pilots.
The Gloster Meteor design dates to 1940, and was planned from the beginning to be powered by the then revolutionary gas turbine engine developed by Frank Whittle. Though the Meteor was of conventional design (not incorporating swept wings, for example), it proved to be a rugged, though somewhat underpowered, fighter affectionately nicknamed the Meatbox by her pilots. Entering service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1944, the Meteor was the only Allied jet fighter to see combat in World War II, though it never faced the Luftwaffe's Me 262 jet over western Europe. Initially based in England, the early Meteors were sent on "anti-Diver" patrols against the V-1 flying bombs the Germans had aimed at London. As related by Meteor pilot Dennis Barry, problems with the Meteor's 20-mm nose-mounted cannons forced some pilots to use their wingtips to flip the V-1 into an uncontrolled dive before it reached its target.
Though quickly superseded by more advanced jet fighters, the Meteor served in a variety of roles with the RAF and the air...