This week’s newsreel from British Pathé introduces the Gloster Javelin FAW.1, one of several new fighter aircraft to enter service with the RAF in the 1950s. The two-seat night fighter/interceptor was the first RAF aircraft to feature a delta wing and the RAF’s first purpose-built all-weather interceptor. More than 400 were built.
First entering service in 1956 with 46 Squadron, the Javelin replaced the Meteor night fighter. After a year of extensive training and familiarisation programmes, 141 Squadron then swapped its Venoms for Javelins and the type eventually saw service in 20 squadrons. By 1959, it had become the RAF’s primary night-fighter.
Agile, responsive, and easy to control, the Javelin was an effective type and well-suited for its role albeit reportedly a more difficult aircraft to maintain. It was capable of 610kts and had a ceiling in excess of 50,000ft, range was around 1,000 miles. Intended to be armed with missiles, prior to the introduction of the FAW.7 the fighter was armed solely with four 30mm ADEN cannon. The FAW.7 and later variants carried an armament of four Firestreak missiles in addition to the cannon.
While seen as the rough equal to aircraft such as the Hunter or Sea Vixen, the Javelin was different in that was deemed to have more potential for development and reconnaissance, attack, and even a thin-winged supersonic variant were serious propositions until cancelled following Duncan Sandy’s Defence White Paper.
The type began to be phased out during the early 1960s, superseded by the supersonic English Electric Lightning. The last Javelins were withdrawn from the RAF’s Far East Air Force in 1968.