• No. 616 Squadron exchanged its F 1s for the first Meteor F 3s on 18 December 1944. This was a substantial improvement over the earlier mark, although the basic design still had not reached its potential. Wind tunnel and flight tests demonstrated that the original short nacelles, which extended fore and aft of the wing, contributed heavily to compressibility buffeting at high speed. New, longer nacelles not only cured some of the compressibility problems but added 120 km/h (75 mph) at altitude, even without upgraded powerplants. The last batch of Meteor F 3s featured the longer nacelles while other F 3s were retrofitted in the field with the new nacelles. The F 3 also had the new Rolls-Royce Derwent engines, increased fuel capacity, and a new larger, more strongly raked bubble canopy.

    On 20 January 1945, four Meteors were moved to Melsbroek in Belgium. In March, the entire squadron was moved to Gilze-Rijen and, then in April, to Nijmegen. The Meteors flew armed reconnaissance and ground attack operations without encountering any German jet fighters. By late April, the squadron was based at Fa?berg, Germany and suffered its first losses when two pilots collided in poor visibility. The war ended with the Meteors having destroyed 46 German aircraft through ground attack and having faced more problems through misidentification as the Me 262 by Allied aircraft and flak than from the Luftwaffe. To counter this, continental-based Meteors were given an all-white finish as a recognition aid.
    The pilots appreciated the additional power provided by the Meteor III relative to the Meteor I, as well as the improved view with the new canopy. However, the ailerons had been deliberately wired to be "heavy" to prevent aerobatic maneuvers from overstressing the wings, and pilots complained that flying the aircraft could be very tiring; that hadn't been a problem with the Meteor I, since it hadn't been cleared for aerobatic maneuvers. Pilots also complained that the machine tended to "snake" at high speed, limiting its accuracy as a gun platform, and it tended to become uncontrollable in a dive due to compressibility buffeting. However, the aircraft was basically liked. A flight combat exercise against the excellent Hawker Tempest V piston fighter concluded:

    "The Meteor III is superior to the Tempest V in almost all departments. If it were not for the heaviness of its ailerons and the consequent poor maneuverability in the rolling plane, and the adverse effect of snaking on it as a gun platform, it would be a comparable all-round fighter with greatly increased performance."

    Below a 616 Sq "bird" at Nijmegan, Holland April 45.
    Regards Duggy.

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