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Gloster E.28/39

United Kingdom (1941)
Picture of Gloster E.28/39 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Experimental Prototype Aircraft

The Gloster E.28-39 experimental aircraft became the first aircraft to fly under jet power for the nation of Britain.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Gloster E.28/39 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Experimental Prototype Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 9/11/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Even before the Gloster Meteor, Britain's first operational jet-powered combat fighter, arrived on the scene in World War 2 (1939-1945) to stake its claim and advance a career that led into the early-Cold War years, the nation needed proof-of concept and test beds to prove the viability of jets and high-speed flight in general. This fell to certain designs of which one, perhaps being the most notable of them all, became the classic Gloster "E.28./39". This single-seat, single-engine product was arranged by the Gloster Aircraft Company through the efforts of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) and engineer George Carter along with the Whittle turbojet engine's creator himself, Frank Whittle. The result was a pair of flying data-collecting platforms that served to shape the future of jet-powered flight for Britain and prove the nation as a leader in the field of jet propulsion.

The E.28/39, known mainly by its Air Ministry Specification of E.28/39, was also recognized under the names of Gloster G.40, the "Gloster Whittle" and the Gloster "Pioneer". The aircraft became Britain's first aircraft to fly under jet power but followed the German Heinkel He 178 and Italian Caproni-Campini N.1 (both detailed elsewhere on this site) into the air when it joined them in aviation history during its maiden flight in May of 1941.

Work on the design began in August of 1939, a month before the official start of World War 2. Studies then followed that included wind tunnel testing and this work resulted in a very modern-looking aircraft featuring a nose-mounted intake, single-finned tail unit, low-set monoplane wings (straight) and retractable tricycle undercarriage. The sole pilot sat just aft of the nose section and ahead of the mainplanes. The mainplanes were situated ahead of midships. The engine, buried within the aft-section of the fuselage, exhausted through a circular port at the rear, just under and aft of the tail fin.
Dimensions included a length of 25.3 feet, a wingspan of 29 feet and a height of 8.9 feet. Empty weight was 2,885lb against an MTOW of 3,750lb.

Fitted with a Power Jets (the company founded by Whittle) W1X turbojet, taxiing trials were had in April of 1941 and the aircraft went airborne for a short "hop" that month. Under tight security, the official first-flight was then recorded on May 15th, 1941 and proved the design, and its engine, wholly sound. In January of 1942, the airframe received the newer, more powerful Power Jets W1A which promised an output of 1,050lb and, in time, the aircraft was able to consistently reach speeds of 365 miles per hour. The second prototype carried the Rolls-Royce W2B turbojet (1,350lb thrust output) and this example was first-flown on March 1st, 1943 and managed speeds nearing 435 miles per hour.

For June of 1943, an even more powerful turbojet design outputting 1,520lb thrust was fitted and flown with success though, with the increase in performance, engineers had to overcome various speed-related obstacles inherent in high-speed flying so revisions to the airframe were made as needed; both pilots and engineers were to learn the nuances of high-speed flying as this advanced propulsion program evolved.

Before the end, the E.28/39 aircraft managed to record a top speed of 505 miles per hour and reach altitudes beyond 30,000 feet with seemingly relative ease. Testing continued into 1944 by which point the design had more or less completed its project goals and laid the framework for more advanced forms to follow. The first prototype ended its days as a museum piece at the Science Museum of London in 1946. The second prototype was lost during testing due to an aileron failure in flight.

While the E.28/39 was, at one point, seen as a true combat warplane end-product (pending the outcome of its test phase), it was never fitted with the proposed 4 x 7.7mm Browning machine gun battery originally envisioned.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (339mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Gloster E.28/39's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1941
Type: Single-Seat, Single-Engine Experimental Prototype Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Gloster Aircraft Company - UK
Production: 2
Global Operators:
United Kingdom
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Gloster E.28/39 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
25.43 ft


Meters
7.75 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
29.04 ft


Meters
8.85 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
8.86 ft


Meters
2.7 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
2,888 lb


Kilograms
1,310 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
3,748 lb


Kilograms
1,700 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Power Jets W.1 turbojet engine developing 860 lb of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
339 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
545 kph


Knots
294 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
407 mi


Kilometers
655 km


Nautical Miles
354 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
32,005 ft


Meters
9,755 m


Miles
6.06 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,065 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
325 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None though there were plans, at one point, to install 4 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• E.28/39 - Base Series Designation; two flyable prototypes completed; second lost in crash.