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de Havilland Vampire F3 Jet Fighter Plane

The de Havilland Vampire started it's life on the drawing board as the DH100 "Spider Crab" in May 1942, it was designed to meet Air Ministry specification specification E6/41 as a replacement for existing piston engine fighters like the Spitfire and Hurricane. The name "Spider Crab" was deemed to be totally inappropriate for a RAF fighter, it was promptly re-named the Vampire once it went into production, to many of it's pilots however it was referred to fondly as the "aerial kiddy car".

de Havilland Vampire F3 Jet Fighter Plane

 

The de Havilland Vampire was a simple and small fighter aircraft sharing many components with the existing de Havilland Mosquito, it had a twin metal tail boom design similar to that of the Lockheed P-38 Lightening, combined with an unusual plywood/balsa pod for the pilot and engine.

The de Havilland Vampire made it's first flight on the 20th September 1943 with Geoffrey deHavilland jnr at the controls, six months behind the Gloster Meteor, the first flight would have been earlier, but Lockheed, who had been supplied with one of de Havilland two prototype centrifugal-flow Halford H1 engines to power their XP-80 the prototype of the Shooting Star jet fighter, was destroyed in a test run on the ground resulting in the only remaining engine also having to be sent the USA, consequently the production Mark I did not fly until April 1945 and it was still under development as a fighter when the war ended and never saw combat in WWII.

 

The de Havilland Vampire entered RAF service in the summer of 1946, it was the first RAF standard service aircraft to exceed 500mph and it soon became the RAF's front-line fighter in both the United Kingdom and Germany and remained so until 1955, the trainer version remaining in RAF service until 1966. A navalised version of the de Havilland Vampire, the Sea Vampire, was built for the Royal Navy as an all weather radar interceptor, and was the first jet aircraft to be operated from an aircraft carrier, both single and twin seat configurations were used. The last example, a Sea Vampire T22, was withdrawn from Royal Navy service in 1970. It is of note that the Royal Navy's first air-to-air missile equipped fighter, the de Havilland Sea Vixen, clearly had it's design clearly rooted with the venerable de Havilland Sea Vampire.

On the 23rd March 1948 a RAF "de Havilland Ghost" powered de Havilland Vampire piloted by Group Captain John Cunningham achieved a world altitude record of 59,446 ft (18,119 m).

 
 
 
 

The Vampire F1 was the standard fighter variant, the picture above is of a de Havilland Vampire F3 (VT812), this was the long range version and on the 14 July 1949 a flight of six 54 Squadron RAF Vampire F3's became
the first ever jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

When production of the de Havilland Vampire ceased in the late 1950's a total in excess of 4,300 aircraft had been produced including those built by other countries under licence and tandem seater versions built for use
as night fighters and trainers, it is of note that the trainer version was one of the first ever aircraft to be equipped as standard with ejector seats.

The Vampire remained in service with the RAF until the late 1950's and also served with numerous other air forces, some surprisingly remaining in active service with the Swiss Air Force as fighter trainers until May 1990!

 
 
 

De Havilland Vampire DH-100 Specifications:

  • Crew: Pilot only
  • Length: 30 ft 9 in (9.37 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 12,385 lb (5,618 kg)
  • Engine Single 1,420 lbf (6.3 kN) de Havilland Goblin 2 turbojet
  • Maximum speed: 530 mph at sea level (855 km/h)
  • Range: 1,090 mi (1,755 km)
  • Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,200 m)

De Havilland Vampire DH-100 Armament:

  • Four 20 mm Hispano cannons
  • Two 500 lb (227 kg) or 1,000 lb (455 kg) bombs
  • Eight 60lb (27kg) 3 in (76 mm) unguided rocket projectiles
  • Some Vampires were retro-fitted with Sidewinder missile guidance systems
 

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