De Havilland vampire, North East Aircraft Museum

The Vampires owned by the North East Aircraft Museum are as follows:

T.11 trainer, number WZ518, although it has incorporated parts from other T.11s - wings from WZ608, and certain other parts from XE894.

WZ518 has a service record which includes 5 Flying Training School, Oldenburg Station Flight, 2. Tactical Air Force and 14. Squadron.

FB5, number VV217, the most numerous variant produced. The designation FB indicates a Fighter-Bomber, or ground-attack aircraft.

Adjacent to the museum, you can see Vampire T.11 XD622 in the grounds of the Air Training Corps establishment. This has a history which includes 27 Maintenance Unit, 118 Squadron and Royal Air Force College, Cranwell.



The Vampire (originally known as the Spider Crab) was built around the De Havilland H1 turbojet designed by Frank Halford. This engine was re-named the Goblin.

Initially work on the Vampire was slow because of the commitment to the wartime Mosquito bomber production at Hatfield, although it speeded up once the importance of the work became recognized. Nevertheless, the early production had to be shifted elsewhere - to the English Electric factories near Preston.

The shape was dictated by the engine. In contrast to the twin-engined Meteor, De Havilland chose a single-engined aircraft and a twin-boom layout adopted to reduce the length of the jetpipe, in order to get maximum engine performance from the low-powered engines of the time. The fuselage nacelle was constructed from Mosquito-style plywood sandwich with balsa wood as a stabilising filling.

The aircraft first flew on 20. September 1943 from Hatfield, piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland Junior, and so became the second operational British jet fighter (after the Meteor). By early 1944 it was exceeding 800 km/hr in level flight, the first Allied aircraft to travel so fast. These early flights utilized the grass runway at Hatfield. The first production model flew on 20. April 1945, from Salmesbury, although the type never saw any action during the war.

It was the first jet to take-off and land on an aircraft carrier (HMS Ocean) on 3. December 1945 but had problems at the time because of the slow acceleration and low endurance of its engines.

It was initially supplied to the RAF in April 1946 with 247 squadron. Although its role could include that of interceptor, The RAF chose the Meteor F8 in that particular role and the Vampire was allocated the role of ground-attack aircraft.

On 23. March 1948, it had achieved a new altitude record of 18.119 meters. On 14. July 1948, six F3s of 54 Squadron became the first jet fighters to fly the Atlantic (not direct).

From December 1950, FB5s were used in Malaya. They were the first jet aircraft to be used in Malaya, the first sortie taking place on 26. May 1951. Within a year the FB5s had been replaced by the air-conditioned FB9- because of the heat inside the cockpit, the FB5s could only be used during the early morning or late afternoon. Their radius of action, unfortunately, was less than their piston-engined predecessors.

1953 Aden

In April 1954, four FB9s were sent to Kenya, against the Mau Mau.

The last front-line Vampires were replaced by Venoms by 1956.

Sea Vampires appeared in 1947, and it was first used as a carrier-borne aircraft in 1948. These Sea Vampires were withdrawn in 1957.

There is an interesting account in From Spitfire to Eurofighter, Roy Boot, Airlife Publishing. He recounts his war experiences as a junior employee in the Ministry of Aircraft Production. On page 12 he relates the story of a visit by Dick Clarkson of de Havilland Aircraft :

The words :"We have re-designed the Vampire, you know", were followed by the unfurling of drawings and data which, as I remember, were received by the establishment with absolute horror for rocking the boat at the wrong time.

When some five years later the Venom was unveiled with a 100 mph increase in top speed, it sounded very reminiscent of the discarded Clarkson proposals of 1944. These would have produced the higher performance much earlier, but as thing turned out, too late to be used in the war.

De Havilland vampire, North East Aircraft Museum

DH115 Trainer


The Vampire was the RAF's first jet trainer, and was a direct development of the NF.10 2-seat night-fighter. The radar was removed but the armament retained (they were also used for weapons training). 535 were ordered by the RAF, the first flight being on 15. November 1950.It became one of the most widely-used jet trainers, with 1022 being built in total, supplied to over 20 nations.

No. 5 FTS commenced its first advanced jet training in June 1954, the students having just graduated from the Percival Provost. The trainer and instructor sit side-by-side, and on average, 8 hours were required before going solo, and 115 hours before graduating with wings.

It was replaced by the Gnat in the RAF, and had been totally withdrawn from its role of training aircrew by 1967, although already by 1965 there was only unit operating with it. It remained in service until 1970 in its other training roles, although until the end of 1971 it provided a simulated high-speed low-flying target for Army gunners.

The last Vampire of all versions to be delivered was a T.11 delivered to Austria in 1961. One T11 XH304 remains in an airworthy condition with the RAF, as a part of the vintage pair. .

DH108 Research Aircraft


The Vampire fuselage was incorporated into the DH108 swept-wing research aircraft. This aircraft had wings swept at 43 to 45 degrees, a swept fin (vertical stabilizer) and no tail (horizontal stabilizer). It was the first British swept-wing aircraft and first flew on 15. May 1946

It was actually built to investigate the nature of swept wings. Among other things, it was intended to provide data for the Comet jet airliner and the DH110.

Three were built

On 27. September 1946, Geoffrey de Havilland Junior was killed when the second of these aircraft TG306 broke up in mid-air over the Thames Estuary. This aircraft had already unofficially broken the speed record (at that time 616 mph) whilst test flying and a decision was made to try for the official speed record over the official course off Tangmere on the South coast of England. It was while they were preparing for this record attempt that the accident happened.

In the third aircraft John Derry broke the sound barrier on 9. September 1948 by going into a dive. Unfortunately, he simultaneously lost control of the aircraft and only regained it when the aircraft reach a lower altitude and the compression difficulties therefore disappeared (the speed of sound is faster at lower altitudes). Another similar attempt was made later, but control was again lost and the maneuver was therefore never repeated. This third aircraft was later involved in a fatal crash on 15. February 1950.

Unfortunately, the first aircraft, TG283, was also involved in a fatal crash, on 1. May 1950. hendrerit, urna elit eleifend nunc.

Aerobatic Display Teams


The Vampire was flown by various teams until 1950, by which time No 72 Squadron was flying a team of seven.

No 54 Squadron with a team of five Vampires became the first jet RAF formation team to trail smoke.

Meteors eventually took over from the Vampires and No 66 Squadron developed a formation team of six aircraft.

De Havilland Vampire



  • F1 as described above
  • F2 Four built with Nene engines. One was delivered to Australia, which provided the basis for 70 Australian-built F30s and FB31s, built by the CAC. One was delivered to France serving as the testbed for the F51 Mistral, built by Sud-Est, of which 250 were built.
  • F3 had rounded vertical tail surfaces (rather than square), plus less immediately-obvious upgradings. First flew on 4 November 1946.
  • FB5 1948. This version was produced in the largest numbers 2316. Was the RAF's first ground-attack jet aircraft, entering in December 1948.
  • FB9 Tropicalised version of the FB5, e.g. including air-conditioning
  • F51 Mistral, developed by France. Only the forward fuselage, tail booms and tailplane were common to the Vampire. It first flew at the end of 1951. 250 produced, it entered service in 1954.
  • FB50 license-built version of the FB5 built in Italy, India and France.
  • F53
  • Mark 8 see Venom.
  • T11 trainer (as described above)
  • T55 export version of the T11
  • F20 Sea Vampire. 18 delivered. Based on FB5
  • F21 F2 conversion
  • T22 Navy trainer
  • NF10 (DH113) Two-seat night fighter. It was originally ordered by Egypt, but in 1951 sales to that country were blocked by the British Government and the NF10 was diverted to the RAF, as an interim aircraft - the first jet night-fighter to fly with any air force. It made use of the radar and cockpit of the Mosquito.
  • NF54 export version of the NF.10

De Havilland Vampire

Other Countries


Australia (see Variants, above) In 1947/48, two F2s were delivered to be used as trainers. From 1949, 80 license-built aircraft were constructed in Australia. They were replaced by the Sabre in 1955. The T-55 was also license-built.

Austria 3 T55s, and 3 T11s

Burma 8 trainers were supplied as its first jet aircraft. 10? T55 in 1957. Last shot down in 1978.

Canada received a single F1. From 1948, 85 were supplied, built in Britain but assembled by De Havilland Canada. It was the first jet fighter in the Canadian Air Force. Withdrawn in the early 1950s.

Ceylon ex-RAF FB9s

Chile 5 T55s were delivered from 1954. In 1972, ex-British Navy T22s were shipped to Chile by Hawker Siddeley.

Dominica received 12 ex-Canadian aircraft and 25 ex-Swedish.

Egypt From 1949, Egypt ordered aircraft to re-equip after the war with Israel. The British government placed an embargo on the order, but they received 30 FB52s from Italy. The embargo was lifted in 1953, and a small number of further aircraft were supplied. At least three were shot down, and many destroyed on the ground, during the Suez campaign in November 1956. One shot down by Israel in October 1956. 70 FB52s (???although Israeli Meteor, Suez Campaign)

Finland 6 from 1953. One was preserved when it was retired in 1965.

France from 1948, received 30 ex-RAF F1s. 76 F5s were supplied by De Havilland, plus 183 license-built (by Sud-East) Vampire FB5s which first flew on 27. January 1950. The French developed the Vampire F2 into the Mistral, 251 of which were built by Sud-Est Aviation, powered by Rolls-Royce Nene engines. Used in Algeria.

India 139? From De Havilland in 1948, then 247 license-built by Hindustan Aeronautics until 1959?. Also 29 NF10s, T55 license-built. In September 1965, FB52s were used against Pakistan, but, apart from the first day, took little role in the rest of the short war.

Indonesia 8 T55s

Iraq 12, from 1953

Ireland 6 T55s for the Irish Air Corps in 1956. One ex-RAF T11.

Italy from 1949, plus 80 license-built (by Fiat/Macchi) from 1951. Also 14 NF.10s.

Japan One T55 was delivered for evaluation in 1955, but no further orders were received.

Jordan 7 from Eygpt and 10 ex-RAF in 1955.

Lebanon 5, from 1953

Mexico received 15 ex-Canadian aircraft to form the country's first jet fighter squadron

New Zealand from 1950 18 and 8 from 1955. 20 remained until 1972.

Norway 25 FB5s

Portugal 2 T55s

Rhodesia 24 from 1953. ex-RAF FB9, six survived to enter the Zimbabwe Air Force in 1986.

Saudi Arabia 4 from Eygpt in 1957.

South Africa from 1949, 50 were supplied which served until replaced by Sabres

Sweden From 1946, 270 aircraft were supplied which remained in front-line service until 1958.

Switzerland from 1946, 75 aircraft were supplied plus 100 were license-built at the Federal Aircraft Factory and Pilatus (designated FB6). They in service until the mid 1980s for training.

Syria 2 T55s but in July 1956, an embargo was placed on them by the British Government

Venezuala supplied from December 1949 and early 1950's. During an Air Force revolt, FB5s took part in the strafing of the Presidential Palace and Ministry of Defense in Caracas (see also Canberra).

Also 5 T55s were delivered to Ceylon, but the Government changed their mind and the aircraft were returned to Britain, unpacked.



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