History of the Vampire
de Havilland Vampire was the first single engine jet fighter
to enter service in the RAF. The prototype made its maiden
flight on 20th September 1943; over the next few years the
Vampire claimed the following 'firsts':
- The first jet aircraft to land and take-off from an aircraft
- The first crossing of the Atlantic by a jet
- The first jet trainer on which student pilots could gain
April 1946 the Vampire F1 entered service with 247 Squadron
at RAF Chilbolton, Hampshire. This was replaced in 1948 by
the Vampire F3, with re-designed tail fins, a lower tailplane
and upgraded engine. The clipped-wing ground attack FB5 also
started to arrive in 1948; but was soon superseded by the
FB9, which was basically the same aircraft, but fitted with
an air-conditioning unit to permit more comfortable operation
in warmer climates.
next version was the two-seater NF10, designed to accommodate
a radar operator positioned next to the pilot. This in turn
led onto the two seat training version, the Vampire T11, which
first flew in1950 and served in Britain until 1968.
a two-seater trainer, the Vampire T11 excelled. The side by
side seating ensured both pilots had good visibility. The
aircraft's inherent stability and docility also made it a
relatively safe and effective platform for instruction. Later,
the Vampire provided advanced training and weapons instruction
with rockets and bombs fitted under the wing. This compared
favourably with the tandem cockpit and completely unarmed
basic Vampire lent itself to the inevitable mutations that
so characterised the immediate post war cash-strapped British
aviation industry. With swept wings bolted to the Vampire
fuselage and no tail at all, the DH 108 was the UK's first,
experimental, swept wing aircraft.
the 9th September 1948 the third and final DH108 Swallow prototype,
VW120, exceeded the speed of sound in a shallow dive - the
first jet aircraft to achieve this feat. With new, thin wings
and swept leading edges, the DH 112 Venom was born - originally
referred to as the Vampire FB8.
engine itself was another major breakthrough, following years
of dedicated research by Frank Halford. The "Goblin"
engine produces an incredible and distinctive sound - one
of the many reasons this aircraft is a proven crowd pleaser
at air shows!
These aircraft are now so rare that the National Aviation
Heritage Register (NAHR) lists Vampires as "Benchmark"
aircraft; the highest category available for preservation.