Accident Gloster Meteor F Mk 4 VT178, Friday 6 January 1950
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Date:Friday 6 January 1950
Time:15:15 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic METR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Gloster Meteor F Mk 4
Owner/operator:1 Sqn RAF
Registration: VT178
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:RAF Tangmere, Chichester, West Sussex, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Tangmere, Chichester, West Sussex
Destination airport:RAF Tangmere, Chichester, West Sussex
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Meteor 4 VT178 took off from RAF Tangmere at 15:15 hours on 6th January 1950. Piloted by Flying Officer H.W.B. Patterson, the flight was intended to be a demonstration of high and low speed flying and manoeuvreability. The pilot stated that during the first high speed run at an altitude of 500 feet the rather 'bumpy' conditions encountered limited the speed to 440 knots (0.7 Mach).

After carrying out two runs at that speed he commenced a climbing turn to port, and after turning approximately 30 degrees, commenced to straighten out and throttle back. At this stage VT178 struck extreme turbulence which caused the starboard wing to drop about 20 degrees and for a few seconds the Meteor was completely out of control.

Witnesses on the ground also said that they saw intermittent vortices from the wing tips at that moment. Patterson's later statement, in part, was;

"During the few seconds that the aircraft was out of control the stick forces encountered gave indication of oscillation of the controls giving a fore and aft pitching movement plus a snaking effect over the entire aircraft. During this period the control stick was difficult to hold and as far as I remember moved rapidly in all directions up to approximately five inches from centre. After a few seconds this stopped and control appeared normal. I regained control without losing height at appoximately 3,000 feet.."

When control was regained, Patterson checked for manoeuvreability and as the aircraft appeared normal he continued the demonstration which consisted of steep turns at speeds between 230 and 260 knots, a slow run, and a normal landing. Examination of the aircraft once it was safely on the ground revealed some severe wrinkling of the fuselage skin in the region of the tank bay on the port side. There was also damage to the emergency tail skid structure, but this had been sustained during a night landing a few flights previously, and wasn't believed to have had any bearing on this incident. Deformation had occurred to the airframe skin, panels, frames and intercostal stringers, and the shearing of various rivets, all of these pointers suggesting a heavy download on the tail with some side loading on the fuselage.

According to an onboard recorder that was later examined at R.A.E. Farnborough, at one point the Meteor had been subjected to +9G at 450 knots. That degree of airframe stress should have caused the aircraft to break up in flight. The airframe was deemed to be too severely overstressed to be of any further use, and was struck off charge as Cat.5(Scrap)


1. Halley, James (1999). Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.98. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 by Colin Cummings p 27
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/4:
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/30/S2478:


Gloster Meteor F.Mk.4 VT178, RAF Tangmere 1949: The Aviation Photo Company: Meteor (Gloster) &emdash; RAF Gloster Meteor F.4 VT178 (1948)

Revision history:

22-Dec-2019 22:43 Dr. John Smith Added
23-Dec-2019 20:41 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Narrative, Operator]
25-Sep-2020 19:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
01-Jul-2021 17:17 Anon. Updated [Location, Operator]

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