The Folland Gnat is a small, swept-wing British subsonic jet trainer and light fighter aircraft developed by Folland Aircraft for the Royal Air Force. The Gnat was designed by W.E.W. Petter as a development of the private venture Folland Midge. It first flew in 1955. Its design allowed its construction without specialised tools by countries not highly industrialised. Although never used as a fighter by the Royal Air Force, the Gnat T.1 trainer variant was widely used. The Gnat became well known as the aircraft of the RAF’s Red Arrows aerobatic team. The Gnat was exported to Finland, Yugoslavia and India. The Indian Air Force became the largest operator and eventually manufactured the aircraft under licence.
An initial contract for 14 pre-production Gnat trainers was issued in 7 January 1958.The prototype Gnat Trainer first flew on 31 August 1959 from Chilbolton airfield, the Ministry did not at first place a production order as they were concerned about the size and ability of the company to take on a large order. Following the take-over of Folland by Hawker Siddeley Aviation (becoming the Hamble division) further orders for 30, 20 and 41 trainers were placed between February 1960 and March 1962 with the designation Gnat T Mk. 1. The last Gnat T.1 for the RAF was delivered in May 1965.