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DH110 Sea Vixen

De Havilland's twin boom, twin engine jet fighter for the Fleet Air Arm
DH110 WG236 Air to air 1952 DH110 WG236 Air to air 1952
 
The DH110 was originally ordered as a two-seat, twin-boom and radar-equipped fighter to specification F.4/48 and was in direct competition with the Gloster Javelin.
 
Although losing in that competition, the Royal Navy felt that the DH110 was a better basis for a carrier-based fleet defence strike fighter and this led to the release of a new specification N.131T, written specifically with the DH110 in mind. De Havilland had opted for the twin-boom configuration seen in the Vampire and Venom with an all-metal fuselage featuring swept and eventually foldable wings.
 
Fitted with Rolls-Royce Avon 208 turbojets, the prototype (WG326) flew for the first time at Hatfield on 26th September 1951 piloted by John ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham.   Early test flights exceeded expectations with both the speed and performance of the aircraft taking it well in excess of the speed of sound.
 
The DH110 was involved in a grave tragedy at the 1952 Farnborough Air Show when the prototype was being displayed to the crowd with the intention of creating a sonic boom. After taking the aircraft to a supersonic speed, it suffered a sudden structural break-up during ia high speed turn.

Tragically following the break-up the engines continued forward into the crowd, killing 29 spectators and injuring many others.   The flight crew, John Derry and Tony Richards also lost their lives. 
 
After the accident, the remaining prototype (WG240) was strengthened and certain area redesigned before almost a year later it recommenced flight trials.   Despite this the RAF abandoned its interest in the aircraft selecting the Gloster Javelin instead.
 
Meanwhile, after successful carrier trials, the the Fleet Air Arm decided to adopt the Sea Vixen to replace its Sea Venoms and placed an order for 110 ‘Navalised aircraft’ which was subsequently renamed the Sea Vixen FAW.
 
In June 1955, a semi-navalised Mk20X prototype (XF828) completed carrier flight deck suitability trials which included catapult launches and arrester hook landings although the powered folding wings capability was not incorporated until April 1956.
 
DH110 Sea Vixen 1st prototype FAW1 (XJ474) air to air 2nd March 1957 DH110 Sea Vixen 1st prototype FAW1 (XJ474) air to air 2nd March 1957
 
The first production aircraft flew on 20th March 1957 with construction of the vast majority of the aircraft being completed at Christchurch, near Bournemouth. 
 
However, in 1962 with the advent of the consolidation of the aircraft industry all Sea Vixen work was thransferred to Harwarden, near Chester, now home of Airbus Wing manufacture.
 
In total a single prototype and 119 Sea Vixen FAW.1’s were built, followed by 29 FAW.2, to which configuration many (67) of the surviving FAW.1 aircraft were converted.
 
The FAW.2 can easily be distinguished by the forward extension of the two tail booms ahead of the wing leading edge, these being used to increase the internal fuel volume.
 
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW2 XN684 prototype air to air DH110 Sea Vixen FAW2 XN684 prototype air to air
 
The Sea Vixen never saw active service in any wars although it did provide cover duties based from various carriers around the world.
 
Although not a combat operation, Sea Vixens were used to release bombs and rockets onto the wreck of the oil tanker Torrey Canyon on Seven Stones Reef off the tip of Cornwall in March 1967.
 
This was done with a view to igniting the oil slick and aiding its dispersion.
DH110 Sea Vixen Image Gallery

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DH110 Mk.1 Sea Vixen (XJ474) in steep turn
DH110 Mk.1 Sea Vixen (XJ474) in steep turn

DH110 Mk.1 Sea Vixen (XJ474) in steep turn

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DH110 Sea Vixen FAW Mk 1 RN (XJ488 & XJ521) air to air 'Buddy' refuelling
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW Mk 1 RN (XJ488 & XJ521) air to air 'Buddy' refuelling

DH110 Sea Vixen FAW Mk 1 RN (XJ488 & XJ521) air to air 'Buddy' refuelling

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2016 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 RN (XJ474) landing on aircraft carrier
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 RN (XJ474) landing on aircraft carrier

DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 RN (XJ474) landing on aircraft carrier

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2016 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 RN (XJ493, XJ487, XJ486 & XJ515) in close formation July 1959
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 RN (XJ493, XJ487, XJ486 & XJ515) in close formation July 1959

DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 RN (XJ493, XJ487, XJ486 & XJ515) in close formation July 1959

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2016 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 landing on HMS Centaur 1960
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 landing on HMS Centaur 1960

DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 1 landing on HMS Centaur 1960

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2016 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH110 Sea Vixens (XJ474, XJ571 and 3 others) weather the storm aboard HMS Victorious in February 1961
DH110 Sea Vixens (XJ474, XJ571 and 3 others) weather the storm aboard HMS Victorious in February 1961

DH110 Sea Vixens (XJ474, XJ571 and 3 others) weather the storm aboard HMS Victorious in February 1961

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2016 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH110 Sea Vixen on apron at RNAS Yeovilton
DH110 Sea Vixen on apron at RNAS Yeovilton

DH110 Sea Vixen on apron at RNAS Yeovilton

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2016 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)

Variants 

DH110 Sea Vixen
3 built
Prototypes WG236, WG240 & XF828
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.1
119 built
Navalised variant with arrester hooks, catapult fixing and redesigned flight surfaces including a moving tailplane and altered wing leading edge design.  Various weaponry sub-systems were added although folding wing mechanisms were not fitted until after the first flight of the prototype.
DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2
25 built
Prototype with Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine and various weapons capabilities.  Enlarged tailboom and pinions for increased fuel capacity as well as improved electronic counter-measures.
DH110 Sea Vixen D3
3 built
Drone conversions from FAW.2

Specifications (FAW.2)

Powerplant                         
Two 10,000 lbst Rolls-Royce Avon 208 turbojets
Span
50 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
37,000 lb
Capacity & Armament
Two crew and a wide range of armament / external stores, including four air to air missiles, drop tanks, bombs, rocket projectiles, photo-reconnaissance pod, etc. AAM Firestreak (FAW.1), Red Top (FAW.2).
Maximum Speed (clean)
690 mph
Endurance
Typical combat air patrol with AAM, 2hr 15 min

Survivors

Sea Vixen FAW.1
(XJ481)
Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK                            
Sea Vixen FAW.1
(XJ482)
Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton, UK
www.aviationmuseum.net
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XJ490)
Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra, Australia
www.qam.com.au
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XJ494)
Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire, UK www.bruntingthorpeaviation.com
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XJ560)
Newark Air Museum, Winthorpe, Newark, Nottinghamshire, UK. www.newarkairmuseum.org
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XJ565)
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XJ571)
Solent Sky Museum, Southampton, United Kingdom www.solentskymuseum.org
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XJ580)
Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, Chichester, West Sussex, UK www.tangmere-museum.org.uk
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XN685)
Midland Air Museum, Coventry Airport, Coventry, Warwickshire, UK www.midlandairmuseum.co.uk
Sea Vixen FAW.2
(XS576)
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford
Sea Vixen TT.2
(XS587 / G-VIXN)
Gatwick Aviation Museum, Charlwood, Surrey, UK
Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XS590) Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK www.fleetairarm.com
Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XP924) *
Fly Navy Heritage Trust, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK

* This is the only remaining airworthy Sea Vixen in the world.

More information

 
 

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