Saturday, 21 April 2007

Wilfred George Carter 1890-1969

George Carter was the chief designer at Glosters from 1937, was awarded the C.B.E. in 1947 and was appointed Technical Director of Gloster Aircraft in 1948 remaining on the board of directors until 1954. He continued to serve Glosters for a number of years after his retirement in a consultancy role until 1958.

Carter joined the Gloucestershire (later Gloster) Aircraft Company in 1925 previously having worked for Sopwith, Shorts and for Hawker where he was responsible for the Heron and Hornbill fighter aircraft. At Gloster Aircraft, he was instrumental in the design of two of the most significant biplane fighters for the RAF, the Gauntlet and Galdiator. Carter also designed the Gloster F.9/37 a promising twin-engine fighter design that never entered production, before he turned to work on jet aircraft.

It was during a visit by Frank Whittle to Gloster that Carter became involved in the development of jet aircraft. At the time Gloster were working on a twin-boom fighter to be powered by a Napier Sabre piston engine which attracted the attention of Whittle who thought that the layout would be suitable for his new engine. Although the design Whittle saw would not progress beyond the project stage, within a few weeks, Carter was asked by the Air Ministry to submit plans for a brand new aircraft to use Whittle's engine. He agreed to the project before seeing the engine for himself. While not impressed with the engine itself, when he saw it running he was convinced that it could develop into a suitable powerplant given what they had managed to achieve in the somewhat primitive conditions at Lutterworth.
The Gloster E28/39 was designed primarily to prove the concept of turbojet powered flight, the Air Ministry however insisted that the design include provision for four guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition even if these were not be be fitted in the prototype. The contract to build the E28/39 also known as the Pioneer was placed with Glosters on the 3 February 1940. The aircraft was built in secret at the Regents garage, Cheltenham and first flew on 8 April 1941 at Hucclecote, becoming the first British and Allied jet aircraft.
Even before the Pioneer flew, the Air Ministry encouraged Carter to design a practical jet fighter since the Pioneer was not suitable because it was unlikely that an engine of at least 2,000 lbs thrust would be available in the near future. Carter therefore decided that the design would require two engines. The result was designated the F/9-40 which first flew on 5 March 1943 and would find worldwide fame as the Gloster Meteor. His later designs included the E.1/44 and Gloster Javelin.