Gloster Meteor FR Mk.9, The killer photographer

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The Gloster Meteor FR Mk.9 was a British post war Fighter-Reconnaissance jet aircraft based on the Gloster Meteor F Mk.8 jet fighter. After finishing it’s short lived career in the RAF, aircraft of this variant ended up being sold to other Air Forces across the world, including relevantly the Israeli Air Force. Despite being an aircraft primarily designated for tactical photography, Meteors of this variant saw active service in the Israeli Air Force as fighter aircraft and even achieved a historical combat feat for the IAF (detailed in this suggestion).

In this photo (as well as the title photo) Meteor FR Mk.9 number 34 of the IAF can be seen in flight. Note the bulge on the top of the nose which was used to house the tactical photography F.24 camera, as well as the under-fuselage fuel pod equipped to increase flight range.


  • In this suggestion I will mainly cover the history of the aircraft in the Israeli Air Force and not the development history of the aircraft in Britain.
  • In this suggestion I used the specifications of the Meteor F Mk.8 since I could not find specific ones for the FR Mk.9 and the aircraft are generally almost identical in their characteristics.


The Gloster Meteor FR Mk.9 was developed from the Meteor F Mk.8 Fighter jet, seeing the F Mk.8 model equipped with a slightly different nose housing tactical photography equipment while retaining the Meteor F Mk.8’s main armament of four 20mm cannons. This Meteor variant also saw some changes to it’s fuel system allowing it to carry additional fuel tanks if needed to increase flight range. This variant first took to the skies on the 23rd of March 1950 with serial production beginning in July of that same year and it entered service with the RAF in 1951.

This photo shows an Israeli Meteor FR Mk.9 with it’s full fuel capacity including the fixed underbelly fuel pod and a pair of underwing drop tanks.

The Israeli Air Force’s acquisition of the Meteor FR Mk.9 was conducted with a deal signed in March of 1954 with the British government allowing the sale of nine Meteor aircraft, of which seven were of the FR Mk.9 variant and the other two were of the T Mk.7 unarmed trainer variant. All of the aircraft were ex-RAF aircraft that were sold back to the Gloster company who refurbished them and began supplying the aircraft to the IAF from December of 1954 until May of 1955. These aircraft were numbered 31-37 in the IAF.

The aircraft presented a very necessary leap forward for the IAF in terms of tactical photography since, up until that point, the primary aircraft used in this role were the aging De Havilland Mosquito PR Mk.16 aircraft. Despite this, more often than not, the FR Mk.9 Meteors were used as combat aircraft to supplement the small fleet of Meteor F Mk.8 aircraft. In fact only aircraft 35 and 36 fully retained the capability for photo reconnaissance while the other aircraft either had the camera pod painted over or had their nose completely replaced with that of a Meteor F Mk.8.
The Meteor FR Mk.9s served in the 117th First Jet Squadron with the first sortie carried out by a Meteor of this variant being a tactical photography mission over enemy territory on the 22nd of May 1955.

In this photo is Meteor FR Mk.9 number 36, the Meteor which was responsible for the very first air kill of a jet aircraft in the Israeli Air Force.

Despite not being a dedicated fighter aircraft, it was a Meteor FR Mk.9 that drew first blood for the Israeli Air Force in the jet age. In 7 AM of the 1st of September 1955 Israeli ground control discovered four Egyptian De Havilland Vampires that had flown over the Gaza strip and diverted their aircraft eastward, penetrating Israeli air space. Despite not being the pair designated for emergency response that day, Captain Aharon Yo’eli and Captain Yeho’ash (Chato) Tzidon were the first to respond with Aharon taking off from Hatzor Air Base in Meteor FR Mk.9 number 36 and Chato taking off in a Meteor F Mk.8. The pair flew to the south west where ground control told them the Vampires were headed. Chato was the first to identify the Egyptian Vampires at an altitude of 2000 meters, two of which were quick to escape south towards their air base in El-Arish upon the arrival of the Israeli Meteors, leaving the sky with two Egyptian Vampires against two Israeli Meteors. The Israeli Meteors flying in from the direction of the sun and using their altitude advantage dove towards the Egyptian Vampires With Aharon in the FR Mk.9 in the lead. Aharon set his gunsight to night mode and at a distance of 150 meters opened fire on the first Vampire. Aharon hit the Vampire in the root of it’s left wing but the pilot did not bail, and so Aharon kept on firing causing the aircraft to set on fire and lose control, plummeting to the ground. Aharon proceeded breaking left with Chato behind him chasing the second Vampire which began fleeing South. As they approached the border with the Gaza strip they caught up to the Vampire over a kibbutz called Erez. The Vampire conducted a series of rolling maneuvers at low altitude to avoid the Meteors but to no avail, and at a distance of 200 meters Aharon in the FR Mk.9 squeezed the trigger, hitting the Vampire directly in the cockpit causing the aircraft to explode and then crash just west of the kibbutz.

The pair of kills achieved by Aharon Yo’eli that day in Meteor FR Mk.9 number 36 were the first jet kills achieved in this combat theatre and the first ones that were achieved by the Israeli Air Force. Despite the great excitement of the occasion Aharon lamented the fact that the enemy pilots didn’t bail. For his actions that day Aharon Yo’eli later received the medal of courage, one of the most distinguished military decorations in the IDF. Meteor FR Mk.9 number 36 on the other hand suffered a landing accident on the 30th of May 1956 less than year after it’s distinguished feat, resulting in the aircraft’s early retirement as it was never restored.

The rest of the fleet of Meteor FR Mk.9s went on to be used in the Suez crisis of 1956 as second line jet fighters as well as on reconnaissance missions. One of the most notable missions carried out by Meteor aircraft during this conflict (which included FR Mk.9 airframes) was the escorting of C-47 Dakotas as they carried paratroopers who dropped over the Mitla pass in Sinai.

A late photo of Meteor FR Mk.9 on display in the technical school it was transferred to post service. This aircraft remains on display to this day at Ramat David air base.

In the coming years until 1962 five of the Meteor FR Mk.9s remained in service as second line fighters. Three of the aircraft (31, 33 and 35) then continued to serve under the 107th squadron as conversion trainers and target towers until the 14th of July 1964 when they were then transferred to the 110th squadron, continuing to serve as trainers. The Meteors finally ended their service career in the IAF in 1970. The surviving examples were transferred to technical schools to train mechanics, and Meteor FR Mk.9 number 31 which was later set up as a display aircraft remains to this day on display at Ramat David air base.

Potential in War Thunder

At the moment of writing this suggestion the Israeli Aviation tree’s 5th rank shrunk significantly to contain just 3 researchable aircraft and no premium aircraft. With this in mind I believe this aircraft could present a good option for a premium alternative to the Meteor F Mk.8, the only major difference between the two being the lack of AR rockets since the Meteor FR Mk.9s were seemingly never wired to fit those in Israeli Air Force service. The aircraft could also alternatively be added as a researchable aircraft to bolster this rank’s researchable lineup.


Type: Reconnaissance Fighter Jet

Country of origin: UK

Wing span: 11.3 meters

Length: 13.59 meters

Height: 4.22 meters

Powerplant: Two Rolls Royce Derwent 8 engines, each with a thrust of 1,585 kgf

Max speed: 960 km/h

Max altitude: 12,000 meters

Range: 965 km

Weight: Empty - 4,820 kg, Fully loaded - 8,660 kg

Armaments: 4x20mm Hispano Mk.V cannons with 195 rounds per gun. Could also be equipped with a fixed under-fuselage fuel pod and/or a pair of underwing drop tanks.

Additional media

in the following video at about the 10:02 timestamp Meteor FR Mk.9 number 37 can be seen in flight and number 34 can be seen a few seconds later, although by that point it’s nose was replaced with that of a Meteor F Mk.8:



Air War on the Edge by Bill Norton
חיל האויר בקרב - 70 שנות עליונות אוירית 1948-2018 - Page 172
המטאור הצלם - מרקיע שחקים
מטוסי חיל האויר מהטייגר מות' עד הסופה


Looks cool, would be a nice premium for the Israeli air tree.

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Don’t the F.8s in the tree represent the rearmed photo recon Meteors? Or was that the Mirages…

No, the F.8 is a separate variant and the FR.9 was always an armed variant.

Suggestion passed to the developers for consideration.

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