De Havilland Vampire

De Havilland Vampire

lowercase|de Havilland VampireInfobox Aircraft
name= DH.100 Vampire
type=Fighter aircraft
manufacturer=de Havilland
English Electric

caption=WZ507, a Vampire T 11 trainer variant, operated by the Vampire Preservation Group at North Weald, Essex, UK.
first flight=20 September 1943
retired=1966 (RAF)
primary user=Royal Air Force
more users=Fleet Air Arm
number built=3,268 [Gunston, 1981. p. 52.]
unit cost=
variants with their own articles=de Havilland Venom
The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was a British jet-engined fighter of the Second World War, the second jet-powered aircraft commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the War (the first being the Gloster Meteor), although it was not used in combat. The Vampire served with front line RAF squadrons until 1955 and continued in use as a trainer until 1966. It also served with many air forces worldwide, and set several aviation firsts and records. Almost 3,300 Vampires were built, a quarter of them under licence in other countries. The Vampire design was also developed into the de Havilland Venom fighter-bomber as well as naval Sea Vampire variants.

Design and development

The Vampire was considered to be a largely experimental design due to its unorthodox arrangement and the use of a single engine, unlike the Gloster Meteor which was always specified for production. The low-powered early British jet engine types meant that only twin-engine aircraft designs were considered practical; but as more powerful engines were developed, particularly Frank Halford's H.1 (later known as the Goblin), a single-engined jet fighter became more viable. De Havilland were approached to produce an airframe for the H.1, and their first design, the DH.99, was an all-metal, twin-boom, tricycle undercarriage aircraft armed with four cannon. The use of a twin boom (similar to that of the Lockheed P-38), kept the jet pipe short which avoided the power loss of a long pipe that would have been needed in a conventional fuselage. The DH.99 was modified to a mixed wood and metal construction in light of Ministry of Aircraft Production comments, and the design was renumbered to DH.100 by November 1941. [Buttler 2000, p. 201.]

Under specification E.6/41 for two prototypes, design work on the DH.100 began at the de Havilland works at Hatfield in mid-1942, two years after the Meteor. [Gunston, 1981. p. 49.]

Originally named the "Spider Crab," the aircraft was entirely a de Havilland project, exploiting the company's extensive experience in building with moulded plywood for aircraft construction. Many of the basic design features were first used in their Mosquito bomber. It had conventional straight mid-wings and a single jet engine placed in an egg-shaped, aluminium-skinned fuselage, exhausting in a straight line.

Geoffrey de Havilland Jr, the de Havilland chief test pilot and son of the company's founder, test flew prototype "LZ548/G" on its maiden flight 20 September 1943 from Hatfield. [Gunston, 1981, p. 50.] The flight took place only six months after the Meteor's maiden flight. The first Vampire flight had been delayed due to the need to send the sole remaining flight engine to Lockheed to replace one destroyed in ground engine runs in the prototype XP-80. The production Vampire Mk I did not fly until April 1945, with most being built by English Electric Aircraft due to the pressures on de Havilland's production facilities which were busy with other types. Although eagerly taken into service by the RAF, it was still being developed at war's end, and consequently the Vampire never saw combat in the Second World War.

De Havilland initiated a private venture night fighter, the DH.113 intended for export. An order to supply the Egyptian Air Force was received, but this was blocked by the government as part of a general ban on supplying arms to Egypt. Instead the RAF took over the order and put them into service as an interim between the retirement of the de Havilland Mosquito night fighter and the full introduction of the Meteor NF.

A total of 3,268 Vampires were built in 15 versions, including a twin-seat night fighter, trainer and carrier-based aircraft designated Sea Vampire.

It was used by some 31 air forces. Germany, Spain and the U.S. were the only major Western powers not to use the aircraft type.

Records and achievements

On 8 June 1946 the Vampire was officially introduced to the British public when Fighter Command's 247 Squadron was given the honour of leading the flypast over London at the Victory Day Celebrations. [Gunston et al, 1992, p. 454.]

The Vampire was a versatile aircraft, setting many aviation firsts and records, being the first RAF fighter with a top speed exceeding 500 mph. Piloted by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, a Sea Vampire was the first jet to take off from and land on an aircraft carrier and in 1948, John Cunningham set a new world altitude record of 59,446 feet (18,119 m). On 14 July 1948, Vampire F 3s of No. 54 Squadron RAF became the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. They went via Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Keflavik in Iceland, and Goose Bay at Labrador, before going on to Montreal (c. 3,000 miles) to start the RAF’s annual goodwill tour of Canada and the U.S. where they gave several formation aerobatic displays.

At the same time, USAF Col. David C. Schilling led a group of F-80 Shooting Stars flying to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base in Germany to relieve a unit based there. There were conflicting reports later regarding competition between the RAF and USAF to be the first to fly the Atlantic. One report said the USAF squadron delayed completion of its movement to allow the Vampires to be "the first jets across the Atlantic". [Dorr 1998, p. 119.] Another said that the Vampire pilots celebrated “winning the race against the rival F-80s.” [ [ Wood - second paragraph after Figure 6] ]

Operational history

RAF and Royal Navy service

The Vampire was first powered by a Halford H1 (later renamed the "Goblin") producing 2,100 pounds-force (9.3 kN) of thrust, designed by Frank B Halford and built by de Havilland. The engine was a centrifugal-flow type, a design soon superseded post-war by the slimmer axial-flow units. Initially, the Goblin gave the aircraft a disappointingly limited range. This was a common problem with all the early jets, and later marks were distinguished by greatly increased fuel capacities. As designs improved the engine was often upgraded. Later Mk Is used the Goblin II; the F 3 onwards used the Goblin III. Certain marks were test-beds for the Rolls-Royce Nene but did not enter production. An unusual characteristic of the low positioning of the engine meant that a Vampire could not remain on idle for longer than a certain time because it would melt the tarmac on which it stood. In postwar service, the RAF employed the Gloster Meteor as an interceptor and the Vampire as a ground-attack fighter-bomber (although their roles probably should have been reversed [ Watkins 1996, p. 58. Quote: "The Vampire had been conceived during the war as a high-altitude fighter..."] ). The first prototype of the "Vampire Fighter-Bomber Mk 5 (FB 5)," modified from a Vampire F 3, carried out its initial flight on 23 June 1948. The FB 5 retained the Goblin III engine of the F 3, but featured armour protection around engine systems, wings clipped back by one foot (30 cm), and longer-stroke main landing gear to handle greater takeoff weights and provide clearance for stores/weapons load. An external tank or 500-pound (225 kg) bomb could be carried under each wing, and eight "3-inch" rocket projectiles ("RPs") could be stacked in pairs on four attachments inboard of the booms. Although an ejection seat was considered, it was not fitted.

At its peak, 19 RAF squadrons flew the FB 5 in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. The FB 5 undertook attack missions during the successful British campaign to suppress the insurgency in Malaya in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The FB 5 fighter-bomber became the most numerous variant with 473 aircraft produced.

The NF.10 served from 1951 to 1954 with three squadrons (23, 25 and 151) but was often flown in daytime as well as night time.

The RAF eventually relegated the Vampire to advanced training roles in the mid-1950s and the type was generally out of RAF service by the end of the decade.

The Mk 5 was navalised as the Sea Vampire, the first Royal Navy jet aircraft. The navy had been very impressed with the aircraft since 3 December 1945, when a Vampire carried out the flying trials on the carrier HMS "Ocean".

The final Vampire was the T 11 trainer. First flown in 1950, over 600 were produced in both air force and naval models. The trainer remained in service with the RAF until 1966.


An F Mk 1 version began operating on an evaluation basis in Canada at the Winter Experimental Establishment in Edmonton in 1946. The F 3 was chosen as one of two types of operational fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force and was first flown in Canada on 17 January 1948 where it went into service as a Central Flying School training aircraft at RCAF Station Trenton. With 86 in total, the F 3 was the first jet fighter to enter RCAF service in any significant numbers. It served to introduce fighter pilots not only to jet flying, but also to cockpit pressurisation and the tricycle landing gear. The "Vamp" was a popular aircraft, easy to fly and considered a bit of a "hot rod." It served in both operational and air reserve units until retirement in the late 1950s.


The Finnish Air Force received six FB 52 Vampires in 1953. The model was nicknamed "Vamppi" in Finnish service. An additional nine twin-seat T 55s were purchased in 1955. The aircraft were initially assigned to 2nd Wing at Pori, but were transferred to 1st Wing at Tikkakoski at the end of the 1950s. The last Finnish Vampire was decommissioned in 1965.


The Royal Norwegian Air Force purchased 20 Vampires F III and another 36 of type FB 52. The Vampire was in use in Norway from 1948 to 1957.


The Swedish Air Force purchased its first batch of 70 FB 1 Vampires in 1946, looking for a jet to replace the P-51D Mustangs and the outdated J 22s of its fighter force. The aircraft was designated J 28A and was assigned to the F 13 air wing at Norrköping. It provided such good service that it was selected as the backbone of the fighter force. A total of 310 of the more modern FB 50, designated J 28B, were purchased in 1949. The last one was delivered in 1952, after which all piston-engined fighters were decommissioned. In addition, a total of 57 two-seater DH 115 Vampire called J 28C were used for training.

The Swedish Vampire fighters were retired in 1956 and replaced with J 29 (SAAB Tunnan) and J 34 (Hawker Hunter). The trainers remained in service well into the 1960s. The last Vampire was retired in 1968. (All Vampire warbirds being flown in Sweden today originate from the Swiss Air Force.)


The Rhodesian Air Force acquired Vampire FB9 fighters and Vampire FB11 trainers in the early 1950s, its first jet aircraft. More were supplied by South Africa in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Rhodesia operated Vampires until the end of the bush war in 1979. They were eventually replaced by the BAe Hawk 60 in the early 1980s. After 30 years service they were the last Vampires used on operations anywhere in the world.


* DH 100 : Three prototypes.
* Vampire Mk I : Single-seat fighter version for the RAF, 244 production aircraft being built.
* Mk II : Three prototypes, with Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine. One built and two conversions.
* F 3 : Single-seat fighter for the RAF. Two prototypes were converted from the Mk 1 and 202 production aircraft were built. 20 were exported to Norway
* Mk IV : Nene-engined project, not built.
* FB 5 : Single-seat fighter-bomber version. Powered by the Goblin 2 turbojet. 930 built for the RAF and 88 for export.
* FB 6 : Single-seat fighter-bomber. Powered by a Goblin 3 turbojet. 178 built; 100 built in Switzerland for the Swiss Air Force.
* Mk 8: Ghost-engined, one conversion from Mk 1.
* FB 9 : Tropicalised fighter-bomber through addition of air conditioning to Mark 5. Powered by Goblin 3 turbojet. 326 built, mostly by de Havilland.
* Mk 10 or DH 113 Vampire: Goblin-powered two-seater prototype, two built.
* NF 10 : Two-seat night fighter version for the RAF, 95 built including 29 as the NF54.
* Sea Vampire Mk10 : Prototype for deck trials. One conversion.
* Mk 11 or DH 115 Vampire Trainer : Private venture, two-seat jet trainer prototype.
* T 11 : Two-seat training version for the RAF. Powered by a Goblin 35 turbojet engine, 731 were built.
* Sea Vampire F 20 : Naval version of the FB 5, 18 built by English Electric.
* Sea Vampire Mk 21 : Three aircraft converted for trials.
* Sea Vampire T 22 : Two-seat training version for the Royal Navy, 73 built by De Havilland.
* FB 25 : FB 5 variants, 25 exported to New Zealand
* F 30 : Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the RAAF. Powered by Roll-Royce Nene turbojet, 80 built in Australia.
* FB 31 : Nene-engined, 29 built in Australia.
* F 32 : One Australian conversion with air conditioning.
* T 33 : Two-seat training version. Powered by the Goblin turbojet, 36 were built in Australia.
* T 34 : Two-seat training version for the Royal Australian Navy, five were built in Australia.
* T 34A : Vampire T 34s fitted with ejector seats.
* T 35 : Modified two-seat training version, 68 built in Australia.
* T 35A : T33 conversions to T35 configuration.
* FB 50 : Exported to Sweden as the J 28B, 310 built, 12 of which were eventually rebuilt to T 55 standard.
* FB 51 : Export prototype (one conversion) to France.
* FB 52 : Export version of Mk 6, 101 built. 36 exported to Norway and in use from 1949 to 1957
* FB 52A : Single-seat fighter-bomber for the Italian Air Force, 80 built in Italy. .
* FB 53 : Single-seat fighter-bomber for the "Armee de l'Air", 250 built in France, as the Sud-Est SE 535 Mistral.
* NF 54 : Export version of Vampire NF 10 for the Italian Air Force, 29 being built.
* T 55 : Export version of the DH 115 trainer, 216 built and six converted from the T 11.


*Austrian Air Force;Flag|Australia
*Royal Australian Air Force
*Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
**No. 723 Squadron RAN
**No. 724 Squadron RAN;Flag|Burma
*Burmese Air Force;Flag|Ceylon
*Royal Ceylon Air Force;flag|Canada|1921
*Royal Canadian Air Force;Flag|Chile
*Chilean Air Force;flag|Congo;Flag|Dominican Republic
*Dominican Air Force - (F.1: 25 (ex Swedish); FB.50: 17 (ex Swedish)) ;Flag|Egypt
*Egyptian Air Force;Flag|Finland
*Finnish Air Force;Flag|France
*Armee de l'Air;Flag|India
*Indian Air Force;Flag|Indonesia
*Indonesian Air Force - (T.11: 6);flag|Iraq|1959
*Iraqi Air Force;Flag|Ireland
*Irish Air Corps;Flag|Italy
*Italian Air Force;flag|Japan
*Japan Air Self Defence Force;Flag|Jordan
*Royal Jordanian Air Force;flag|Katanga
*(T.11: 2 (ex Portuguese));Flag|Lebanon
*Lebanese Air Force;Flag|Mexico
*Mexican Air Force (15 ex-Canadian units)Nicknamed the "Aguacates"(Avocados)

;Flag|New Zealand
*Royal New Zealand Air Force
**No. 14 Squadron RNZAF
**No. 75 Squadron RNZAF;Flag|Norway
*Royal Norwegian Air Force;Flag|Portugal
*Portuguese Air Force;Flag|Rhodesia
*Rhodesian Air Force;Flag|South Africa
*South African Air Force;Flag|Sweden
*Royal Swedish Air Force : (F.1 (J 28A): 70; FB.50 (J 28B): 310; T.55 (J 28C): 57);Flag|Switzerland
*Swiss Air Force;Flag|Syria
*Syrian Air Force;Flag|United Kingdom
*Royal Air Force
*Fleet Air Arm;Flag|Venezuela
*Venezuelan Air Force


Several Vampires are still airworthy, and many have been preserved. Some examples are on display at:
* Alberta Aviation Museum (de Havilland Australia Vampire T 35 (1964))
* Aviation Museum of Central Finland (three examples of Vampire Mk 52 and two examples of Mk 55 in storage)
* Canada Aviation Museum (de Havilland DH 100 Vampire 3)
* Austrian Airforce Museum Zeltweg/Styria (De Havilland Vampire Two Seat Trainer)
* Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
* Canadian Museum of Flight
* Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, New Delhi
* Indonesian Air Force Dirgantara Mandala Museum, Adisutjipto Air Force Base, Yogyakarta
* de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre in Hertfordshire
* Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland
* Reynolds-Alberta Museum
* Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum
* South African Air Force Museum, Port Elizabeth, SAAF 205, FB5, static display
* Forbes, New South Wales. Monument next to Lake Forbes
* Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon
* FB5 "WA346" under restoration at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, England.
* T11 "WZ590" on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, England.
* T11 "XD593" on display at the Newark Air Museum, England.
* T11 "XD626" on display at the Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England.

The last airworthy Vampire T 11 is operated by the Vampire Preservation Group from North Weald in Essex, UK. Several ex-Swiss and ex-Australian Vampires operate as collectors' aircraft in the U.S. One ex-Australian two-seat Mk 35W Vampire, S/N "A79-617" was restored by Red Star Aviation of Hackettstown, New Jersey and then repatriated to Australia, where it is displayed in air shows regularly, thus undoubtedly setting the record for most miles travelled by a civil Vampire. Several other U.S.-based Vampires are abandoned and in disrepair, as is an ex-airworthy example presently stored at Sullivan County Airport, in New York.

pecifications (Vampire FB6)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
ref=The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft ["Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft" 1985, p. 1380.]
payload main=
payload alt=
length main=30 ft 9 in
length alt=9.37 m
span main=38 ft
span alt= 11.58 m
height main=8 ft 10 in
height alt=2.69 m
area main= 262 ft²
area alt= 24.34 m²
empty weight main=7,283 lb
empty weight alt= 3,304 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main= 12,390 lb [ Vectorsite Vampiree FB.5]
max takeoff weight alt= 5,620 kg
more general=
engine (jet)=de Havilland Goblin 3
type of jet=centrifugal turbojet
number of jets=1
thrust main= 3,350 lbf (14.90 kN)
thrust alt=
thrust original=
max speed main= 548 mph
max speed alt= 882 km/h
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main= 1,220 miles
range alt=1,960 km
range more=
combat radius main=
combat radius alt=
combat radius more=
ferry range main=
ferry range alt=
ferry range more=
ceiling main= 42,800 ft
ceiling alt= 13,045 m
climb rate main= 4,050 ft/min at sea level [ [ British Aircraft Directory] accessed 4th February 2008.]
climb rate alt=
loading main=
loading alt=
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=
more performance=
guns= 4× 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk.V cannon
bombs=or 2 x 500 lb (225kg) bombs or two drop-tanks
rockets= 8 x 3-inch "60lb" rockets
hardpoint capacity=

Popular culture

The Vampire was central to the plot of the novella, "The Shepherd" by British novelist Frederick Forsyth, the story of an RAF pilot attempting to fly home for Christmas from RAF Celle, Germany to RAF Lakenheath on Christmas Eve 1957. The fact that the DH.100 was not fitted with ejection seats until about 10 years later, and hence was a bit of a challenge to bail out of, is an important element of the story.

Vampire jets also feature in the 1966 novel "Shooting Script" by former RAF pilot and thriller writer Gavin Lyall.

ee also

* de Havilland Swallow
* de Havilland Venom
* de Havilland Sea Vixen
similar aircraft=
* Gloster E.1/44 "Gloster Ace"
* List of World War II jet aircraft
see also=




* Bain, Gordon. "De Havilland: A Pictorial Tribute". London: AirLife Publishing Ltd., 1992. ISBN 1-85648-243-X.
* Buttler, Tony. "British Secret Projects: Jet Fighters Since 1950". Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-85780-095-8.
* Dorr, Robert F. "Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, Variant Briefing." "Wings of Fame: The Journal of Class Combat Aircraft, Vol. 11". London: AIRTime Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-86184-017-9.
* Gunston, Bill et al. ""Vampire Fighters Lead Victory Day fly-by". "The Chronicle of Aviation". Liberty, Missouri: JL International Publishing, 1992. ISBN 1-87203-130-7.
* Gunston, Bill. "Fighters of the Fifties". Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1981. ISBN 0-85059-463-4.
* "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985)." London: Orbis Publishing, 1985.
* Watkins, David. "de Havilland Vampire: The Complete History". Thrupp, Stroud, Great Britain: Budding Books, 1996. ISBN 1-84015-023-8.

External links

* [ Vampire Preservation Group's Web Site]
* [ Autobiography of Bill Wood, who was part of the team that crossed the Atlantic by jet for the first time]
* [ Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England. The museum has the only Vampire MK.1 in the UK on public display.]
* [ Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum in Scotland]
* [ Calgary Aero Space Museum]
* [ Finnish aviation museum in Helsinki]
* [ Norwegian Aviation Museum]
* [ Temora Aviation Museum at Temora, New South Wales, Australia]
* [ Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Ankara, Turkey. An ex-Swiss Air Force FB6, repainted in RAF colours]
* [ de Havilland Vampire and Sea Vampire (1946 - 1969)]
* [ Restored RNoAF Vampire FB.52 flying]

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