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Folland Fo 141 Gnat Military Trainer Aircraft

The Folland Gnat was designed by W. E. W. Petter who had already designed the Lysander, Whirlwind, English Electric Canberra and a large part of the English Electric Lightning. The Folland Gnat first flew in July 1955 and was small swept-wing subsonic jet fighter, it was considered as a replacement for the RAF's DH Venom fighter in 1958 but the Hawker Hunter fighter was chosen instead. In 1957 the Gnat fighter was re-designed as a two seater aircraft to meet advanced trainer specification T.185D for the RAF as a "stepping stone" between the DH Vampire T 11 trainer and the latest supersonic RAF fighters like the English Electric Lightening.

Folland Gnat


The Folland Gnat entered RAF service and was introduced in November 1962 to No 4 Flying Training School based at Royal Air Force Valley in Anglesey as an advanced Jet Trainer, a total of 105 being built. In mid 1963 an informal aerobatic display team was formed by Flight Lieutenant Lee Jones at RAF Valley, the team's two seater Folland Fo.144 Gnat trainers were all painted bright yellow and flown by flight instructors who called their new aerobatic team ‘The Yellow Jacks’.

The Yellow Jacks proved to be a good idea but RAF "high ups" believed the teams name and yellow painted aircraft to be inappropriate, the informality of the team was also frowned apron, in consequence an officially sanctioned team was formed to replace the Yellow Jacks in 1964 - the team still flew the Gnat trainer but the aircraft were now painted red and the team re-named the "Red Arrows".


The Red Arrows aerobatic team flew the Gnat from 1964 to 1979 when they were retired in favour of the British Aerospace Hawk T.1A. It is of note that the RAF's Gnat trainers were originally designated the Folland Fo.144 Gnat Trainer, but were later re-classified as the Folland Gnat T.Mk.1.

It is of note that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited built 176 of the 449 Gnats produced under licence for the Indian Air Force as the Ajeet ("Unconquerable"). Some of these Ajeets were destined to see combat during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 where they proved to be superior in combat to the F86 Sabre and gained the nickname "Sabre Killer" with their pilots and ground-crew. In the first engagement in East Pakistan, known as the Battle of Boyra, four Ajeets (Folland Gnats) quickly downed three supposedly superior F-86 Sabre fighters. The Indian Air Force retired it's last Ajeet in 1978.


The Yellow Jacks!

Folland Fo 141 Gnat Military Trainer Plane

Folland Gnat T.Mk.1 trainer Specifications:

  • Crew: Pilot and trainee
  • Wing span: 24 ft
  • Length: 31 ft 9 in
  • Height: 9ft. 7.5in
  • Empty weight 5,140 lbs
  • Maximum Takeoff weight :8,630 lbs
  • Engine: Single 4,230 lbf thrust Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus 100 turbojet
  • Service ceiling: 48,000 ft
  • Max speed: 636 mph at 31,000 ft
  • Maximum Range: 500 miles or 1,181miles (1,900km) with twin 300-liter under-wing fuel tanks
Folland Gnat Trainer
Folland Gnat F.1 fighter Specifications:
  • Crew: Pilot only
  • Length: 29.72ft (9.06m)
  • Wingspan: 22 ft 1 in (6.73 m)
  • Height: 8.83ft (2.69m)
  • Empty weight: 8,885lbs (4,030kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 9,040 lb (4,100 kg)
  • Engine: single 4,705 lbf (20.9 kN) thrust Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus 701-01 turbojet
  • Maximum speed: 695 mph (Mach 0.98)
  • Maximum Range: 500 miles or 1,181miles (1,900km) with twin 300-liter under-wing fuel tanks
  • Service Ceiling: 50,033ft (15,250m; 9.5miles)
  • Rate of climb: 20,000 ft/min (6,096m/min

Folland Gnat F.1 fighter Armament:

  • Twin 30mm ADEN cannons
  • Twin 500 lb (227 kg) bombs or eighteen 3 in (76 mm) non-guided rockets
Red Arrows Gnat

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