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Print 9/19
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Meteor Strike
by Frank Wootton
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The Gloster Meteor not only brought the jet-age to Australia, but also provided the RAAF with a number of "firsts", so ensuring the aircraft a special place in the annuals of Australian aviation history.

The Meteor was the first (and so far only) RAAF jet fighter to see air-to-air combat; it produced the first jet "kill", and first operational ejection.

500 signed and numbered prints

Image Size: 68cm wide x 48cm high

77 Squadron was actively engaged in the Korean War as part of the United Nations forces from the beginning, initially flying P-51 Mustangs. The arrival of MiG-15s in Korean skies in November 1950 marked the beginning of a new era in air combat.

UN air forces did not possess a plane to match it until F-86A Sabres were introduced in December. Regrettably, the Australians had to be content with the Meteor. After a quick conversion, the Squadron was based at Kimpo under the command of Squadron Leader Dick Cresswell who was the first RAAF pilot to convert to the Meteor.

Early missions over MiG Alley were without incident. It was not until August 29 that the MiGs drew first blood when one Meteor was lost; Warrant Officer Ron Guthrie ejected at 35,000ft becoming a POW. It soon became apparent that the Meteor was no match for the Soviet jet at altitude.

In this, and in subsequent encounters, the MiG pilots, utilising the sanctuary of Chinese airspace across the Yalu River to form up before crossing over into Korea, always retained the initiative, attacked from above and could maintain a numerical advantage.

Unable to match the MiG's performance, 77 Squadron's main role was changed to ground attack and in this the Meteor proved highly successful as demonstrated in Frank Wootton's powerful painting. By the war's end the squadron has been credited with the destruction of 3700 buildings, 1408 vehicles, 16 bridges and 98 railway carriages. MiGs were met on odd occasions, but now at a low altitude where the Meteors stood a better chance.

In total, for the loss of five Meteors in air-to-air combat, without considering claims of 'damaged', the pilots of 77 Squadron scored three MiG-15's destroyed, two probably destroyed and five damaged.

During WW11 Frank Wootton was an official war artist to the RAF. In this capacity he saw service in Normandy, Burma and India. Subjects painted during this period are now with the Royal Air Force Museum, The Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, National Air and Space Museum USA and The Royal Naval Museum. His memorial portrayal of METEOR STRIKE will appeal to students of aviation history, jet fighter enthusiasts, and collectors alike.

Each print is signed by FOUR jet fighter pilots who fought in the Meteor during the Korean War.

The signatures:
Joined the RAAF in 1938. Formed 77 Squadron in 1942. He scored the RAAF's first "kill" of an enemy aircraft over Australian soil in 1942. Under Cresswell's command, 77 Squadron converted from Mustangs to Meteors. In Korea he flew 144 missions, 110 in P-51's, 14 in Meteors, 10 in F-86's with the USAF.

Flying Officer GEORGE HALE MID
Joined the RAAF in 1951. Served with 77 Squadron in Korea from 1952 to '53. During his service In Korea he was involved in what was to be the war's last clash between MiGs and Meteors. During the encounter he sent one MiG-15 down smoking, damaged another and scared the daylights out of another two. Flew a total of 131 missions, mainly ground attack.

Group Captain LES READING DFC, AM (US)
Joined the RAAF in 1943. In Korea, flew 98 combat missions in Mustangs and 90 in Meteors. Noted for his repeated dive bombing, rocket and straffing attacks from dangerously low-levels. Damaged one MiG-15. Commanded three RAAF fighter units including 77 Squadron before retiring.

Air Vice Marshall BILL SIMMONDS AO, MID, AM (US)
Joined the RAAF in 1948. Served with 77 Squadron in Korea during 1952. Whilst protecting a large formation of fighter bombers, his Meteor was attacked by a MiG from the stern. Warned by tracer passing over his wing, he manoeuvred, shooting down one MiG-15 during the ensuing fight. Completed 188 missions and later commanded 77 Squadron.

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