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De Havilland DH112
Venom & Sea Venom

A long-serving single seat fighter bomber, and two seat night fighter and shipborne strike aircraft.

DH112 Venom prototype VV612 DH112 Venom prototype photographed in September 1949 before tailplane tip extensions were added.
 
The De Havilland Venom was a post-war single-engine jet fighter.
 
It was a development of the DH Vampire fighter but with a thinner wing section and wing leading edge sweep.  It was also designed around the more powerful DH Ghost engine, rather than the DH Goblin of the DH Vampire and can readily be distinguished by the additional wingtip-mounted fuel tanks.
 
Two prototypes were built, these being modified DH Vampire FB.5 aircraft. The first prototype (VV612) was first flown on 2nd September 1949 by De Havilland Test Pilot John Derry whereafter it was delivered to Boscombe Down for official trials and evaluation. During the trials the aircraft out performed many of the contemporary fighters involved in the mock battles.
 
The second prototype (VV613) flew on 23rd July 1950 before joining the test program in April 1951. 
 
After the prototypes, production aircraft were fitted with a lengthened tailplane which extended beyond the twin tailbooms.
 
DH112 Venom FB1 RAF WE260 Air to air photograph of RAF Venom FB.1 WE260
 
The initial service variant was the DH Venom FB.1 of which 375 were built, entering service in RAF Germany in mid-1952.
 
De Havilland also built a two-seat night-fighter version of the DH Venom, mating the fuselage of the Vampire NF.10 to Venom wings and in a side-by-side cockpit configuration. The first prototype (G-5-3) was built as a private venture and flew for the first time on 22nd August 1950.
 
Ninety production aircraft were ordered for the RAF as the DH Venom NF.2, the first of these flying on 4th March 1953. The NF.2 was powered by the 4,950lbst Ghost 104 turbojet. Some aircraft were fitted with the frameless canopy and larger fins of the Vampire T.11, being then designated Venom NF.2A.
 
DH112 Venom NF3 RAF WX785 RAF DH112 Venom NF3 WX785 followed in line astern by Sea Venom FAW20.
 
The later DH Venom NF.3 (129 built), featured an improved Westinghouse AN/APS-57 radar and other features of the DH Venom FB.4.
 
A two seat night fighter variant was also exported to Sweden as the DH Venom NF.51 with 62 being delivered and designated as the Type J33 in Swedish service.
DH112 Venom NF51 Swedish AF 33003 A side view of Swedish Air Force DH112 Venom NF51 serial 33003.
 
The DH Venom FB.4 introduced the more powerful Ghost 105 engine and was also fitted with a Martin Baker Mark 1F ejector seat and cockpit air conditioning. The FB.4 also introduced larger, squarer tailfins, with a rear ‘acorn’ fairing and power-boosted ailerons and rudders.
 
150 were built whilst most remaining FB.1 aircraft were also upgraded to FB.4 standard.
 
The DH Venom was armed with four 20-millimetre Hispano V cannons and could carry up to 2,000lb of external stores. These would typically comprise two 1,000lb bombs or eight rockets, or drop tanks.
 
The aircraft served in many theatres including the hotter climates of Cyprus, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.   Throughout the 1950s, DH Venoms were dispatched to all corners of the British Empire and 4 aircraft set a new speed record flying between Iraq and South Africa, covering the 807 miles in just 1 hour 23 minutes. 
 
In service, the DH Venom encountered issues with handling at high Mach numbers and with structural failures, which combined to limit the type’s service career with the RAF, it being replaced in service by the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin.
 
The last RAF Venom FB.4s were retired from service in 1962.
 
The DH Venom was exported to Iraq and Switzerland (FB.50); 60 of the Night Fighter version were sold to Sweden as the NF.51; the last export version was the FB.54, which was sold to both Venezuela and Switzerland. 250 Venom (150 FB,1 and 100 FB.54) were built under licence in Switzerland.
 
Outside of the UK military, the Swiss Air Force DH Venoms were the most prolific and remained in service until around 1984 with many being fitted with a turned-up nose. The Swiss also cleared the type to carry a wider range of underwing stores, including a reconnaissance pod.
 
DH112 Sea Venom prototype WK376 Prototype DH112 Sea Venom FAW.20 WK376 photographed in January 1952.
 
The DH Sea Venom was a version for aircraft carrier use and was operated by the Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm), Royal Australian Navy and the French Aeronavale (the French Naval Air Wing).
 
The Sea Venom was derived from the DH Venom NF.2 with folding wings, a strengthened undercarriage and an arrester hook. Royal Navy variants were the FAW.21, FAW.21 and FAW.22.
 
Three DH Sea Venom prototypes were followed by 50 Sea Venom FAW.20, the first flying in March 1953. These machines featured the Ghost 103 engine, AI.10 radar, and a clear-view canopy like that introduced on the NF.2A. The FAW.20 entered service in 1954.
 
The first of 167 DH Sea Venom FAW.21s flew on 22nd April 1954. The FAW.21 featured a Ghost 104 engine, Westinghouse AI.21 radar, a canopy with a bulged top to improve headroom, and power-boosted rudders and ailerons. The tailplane extensions outboard of the tailfins were deleted.
 
39 DH Sea Venom FAW.22 were built in 1957 and 1958, featuring the 5,150 lbst Ghost 105 engine and improved AI.22 radar; many FAW.22s were fitted after delivery to carry DH Blue Jay (later Firestreak) air-to-air missiles (AAMs).
 
DH112 Sea Venom XG613 Krakow RN DH112 Sea Venom FAW.21 XG613 in the Polish Aviation Museum, Krakow.
 
The Royal Navy obtained a total of 256 DH Sea Venoms of all types and a number participated in the Suez Crisis in 1956, operating in a ground attack role.
 
39 aircraft were exported for use by the Royal Australian Navy, being designated DH Sea Venom FAW.53.
 
The DH Sea Venom was also built under licence in France as the Sud Est Aquilon. The French initially procured four FAW.20 aircraft in kit-form and these were assembled by Sud Est, the first of these flying on 20th February 1952. These were followed by 25 Aquilon 20s, built to a similar specification. A single prototype Aquilon 201,  fitted with ejection seats and a new sliding canopy, was followed by production of the Aquilon 202, of which 25 were built.
 

The Aquilon 203 featured a US-built AN/APQ-65 radar with 40 aircraft being built. Six unarmed Aquilon 204 radar trainers were also produced.

 

DH112 Sea Venom RAN WZ937 De Havilland DH112 Sea Venom FAW.53 WZ937 of RAN at Australian Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra, NSW in May 2017.

 

Variants & Numbers Built

Prototypes Two aircraft converted from Vampire FB.5
FB.1 Initial production 374 for RAF, 150 built under licence Switzerland, Total 523
FB.4 Ejection seat, cockpit conditioning 150 for RAF, 100 Swiss. Total 250
FB.50 15 FB.1 for Iraq
FB.54 22 FB.4 for Venezuela
NF.2 Private venture prototype G-5-3 and 90 production
NF.2A Revised canopy and fin & rudder shape (included in NF.2, above)
NF.3 Improved radar 123 built
NF.51 62 NF.2 / NF.3 for Sweden
Sea Venom NF.20  3 prototypes
Sea Venom FAW.20 54 initial production (includes 4 kits for France)
Sea Venom FAW.21 167 improved specification
Sea Venom FAW.22 39 with Ghost 105 and AI22 radar
Sea Venom FAW.53 39 aircraft supplied to Australia
Aquilon 20 25 production
Aquilon 201 Single Sud Est-built prototype
Aquilon 202 25 initial production
Aquilon 203 40 improved aircraft with air to air missile fit
Aquilon 204 6 unarmed radar trainers
   
Total production 1,487 made up of 2 prototypes, 810 single seat, 1 NF.2 prototype, 275 night fighter, 302 Sea Venom, 97 Aquilon

Specification

  Venom FB Mk 4
Powerplant One 5,150 lbst DH Ghost 105 engine
Span 41 ft 8 in
Maximum Weight 15,310 lb
Capacity & Armament Single crew, four 20 mm Hispano cannon, underwing drop tanks, or rockets, or 1,000 lb bombs
Maximum Speed 640 mph
Maximum range 1,075 miles (with drop tanks)

Survivors

Significant numbers of Venom and Sea Venom / Aquillon survive in museums, with a limited number of airworthy examples. Aircraft are preserved in the UK, France, Israel, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Venezuela. A partial selection is listed below:

 
HB-RVB Venom FB.1 Reported flying in Switzerland (ex-J-1630)
J-1753 Venom FB.4 Swiss Air Force Centre www.airforcecenter.ch/en
J-1642 Venom FB.1R Swiss Air Force Centre www.airforcecenter.ch/en
J-1628 Venom FB.1 Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim

www.sinsheim.technik-museum.de/en/

J-1603 Venom FB.1 Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim

www.sinsheim.technik-museum.de/en/

J-1798 Venom FB.4 Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim

www.sinsheim.technik-museum.de/en/

ZK-VNM  Venom FB.4 Reported flying in New Zealand
WK393 Venom FB1
South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster 
WR539 Venom FB4 De Havilland Aircraft Museum. London Colney www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
WX788 Venom NF3 South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster www.southyorkshireaircraftmuseum.org.uk 
WX853 Venom NF3 De Havilland Aircraft Museum. London Colney www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
WX905 Venom NF3 Newark Air Museum, Newark, Notts www.newarkairmuseum.org
WM571 Sea Venom FAW21 Solent Sky Museum www.solentskymuseum.org
WW138 Sea Venom FAW22 FAA Museum Yeovilton - Museum Store www.fleetairarm.com
WW145 Sea Venom FAW22 Museum of Flight East Fortune, East Lothian www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-flight
WW217 Sea Venom FAW22 Newark Air Museum, Newark, Notts www.newarkairmuseum.org
WZ898 N4-898 Sea Venom FAW53 Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra, QLD www.qam.com.au
WZ903 N903WZ Sea Venom FAW53 Chino - Planes of Fame Museum www.planesoffame.org
WZ904 N4-904 Sea Venom FAW53 Beck War Museum Mareeba, QLD www.ozatwar.com/museums/beck.htm
WZ931 N4-931 Sea Venom FAW53 South Australian Aviation Museum, Port Adelaide, SA www.saam.org.au
WZ937 Sea Venom FAW53 Australian Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra, NSW www.navy.gov.au/history/museums/fleet-air-arm-museum
WZ939 N4-939 Sea Venom FAW53 Classic Jets Fighter Museum, Parafield, SA www.classicjets.com
WZ944 N7022H Sea Venom FAW53 Under restoration to fly by Ultimate Aviation LLC, Ogden, Utah
XG613 Sea Venom FAW21 Krakow - Museum, Poland www.muzeumlotnictwa.pl/indexen.php
XG680 Sea Venom FAW21 North East Aircraft Museum, Sunderland www.nelsam.org.uk/NEAM/NEAM.htm
XG730 Sea Venom FAW22 De Havilland Aircraft Museum. London Colney www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
XG737 Sea Venom FAW22 East Midlands Aeropark, Castle Donington www.eastmidlandsaeropark.org

Other information