The success of the Gloster Meteor led to De Havilland being approached to design and build an airframe for the H1. Designated as the DH99 (initially named the ‘Spider Crab’) it was an all-metal design which was considered to be hugely experimental in its unorthodox arrangement of twin rear booms behind a moulded, egg-shaped wood/ aluminium fuselage and a single engine. The relative low power of the early jet engines normally called for twin installations but Halfords engine proved extremely efficient, making single engine fighters a possibility.
In order to maximise the efficiency of the new technology and respond to Ministry recommendations, the design was modified into a mixed wood and metal construction and re-designated DH100.
The prototype DH100 LZ548/G was first flown on 20th September 1943 at Hatfield by Geoffery de Havilland Junior (son of the founder), some 6 months after the Meteor and having been delayed by engine availability.
The first production Vampire (F.1) was actually produced by English Electric at Warton due to the production pressures and a lack of capacity at Hatfield.
Despite finally arriving after the end of the Second World War, the Vampire was eagerly awaited and became the second British jet fighter to see service with the RAF and was given the honour of leading the V-Day flypast over London. It was the first RAF aircraft to be able to exceed 500 mph and its distinctive shape with twin tail-boom and pod-like fuselage made it instantly recognisable in the air and from the ground.
The main production version however was to be the FB.5 fighter bomber (a modified F.3) and this variant was also be the basis for many of the export versions. Separate night fighter and trainer models were produced as the DH113 and DH115 respectively (See seperate pages).
A number of DH100 Vampires were also modified for shipboard use such as the Sea Vampire and on 3rd December 1945 Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown completed the first successful landing and take-off of a jet fighter from the carrier HMS Ocean. At the time it was also the Royal Navy’s first jet fighter.
The type was very successful in the export market, providing many air forces with their first experience of jet fighter operations and around 30 air forces were ultimately to operate the type.
Some fifty F1, F2 and FB variants were purchased by the Royal Australian Air Force in 1946 and although the majority were built with Goblin engines, the second aircraft was actually built with a Rolls-Royce Nene power-plant.
An experimental version featured an extended wingspan and a DH Ghost engine which set a world altitude record of 59,446 ft in March 1948 and later that year 6 Vampire F3’s became the first jet fighters to fly across the Atlantic for an RAF Goodwill Tour of Canada.
Almost 3,300 Vampires were built, a quarter of them under licence in other countries and it remained as a front-line fighter for the RAF until 1953 when it was re-classified into a pilot training and refresher role.
The DH100 Vampire finally retired from RAF service in 1966, being replaced by the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin. There are a huge number of airworthy aircraft still flying today, predominantly due to its simple design and relatively easy maintenance. In addition, there are hundred kept in superb condition and on display at museums around the world.
|Prototypes to specification E.6/41.|
|Vampire Mk I
|Single-seat fighter version for the RAF.|
1 Built / 2 Conversions
|Prototype with Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine.|
|Single-seat fighter for the RAF - Prototypes were converted from the Mk1|
|Vampire FB.5 built
|Single-seat fighter-bomber version - Powered by the Goblin 2 turbojet|
|Single-seat fighter-bomber - Powered by a Goblin 3 turbojet.|
|Vampire Mk 8
1 conversion built
|Tropicalised fighter-bomber with of air conditioning and powered by Goblin 3 turbojet|
Vampire Mk 10 (DH.113)
|Goblin-powered two-seater prototype - two built.|
|Two-seat night fighter version for the RAF|
|Sea Vampire Mk 10
|Prototype for deck trials|
Vampire Mk.11 / DH.115
|Private venture, two-seat jet trainer prototype.|
|Two-seat training version, powered by a Goblin 35 turbojet - Built by De Havilland and Fairey Aviation - Some fitted with ejection seats.|
|Sea Vampire F.20
|Naval version of the FB.5 built by English Electric.|
|Sea Vampire F.21
|Converted from F.3s with strengthened belly and arrester hook for trials of undercarriage-less landings on flexible decks.|
|Sea Vampire T.22
|Two-seat training version for the Royal Navy.|
|Vampire FB.25||FB.5 variants with 25 exported to New Zealand|
|Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the RAAF and powered by Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet|
|Nene-engined - built in Australia.|
|Australian conversion with air conditioning.|
|Two-seat training version and powered by the Goblin turbojet. Built in Australia.|
|Two-seat training version for the Royal Australian Navy - 5 were built in Australia.|
|Vampire T34.A||Vampire T.34s fitted with ejection seats.|
|Modified two-seat training version. Built in Australia.|
|Vampire T.35A||T.33 conversions to T.35 configuration.|
|Exported to Sweden as the J 28B. 12 of were eventually rebuilt to T.55 standard.|
|Export prototype for France.|
|Export version of Mk 6 - 36 exported to Norway and in use from 1949 to 1957.|
|Single-seat fighter-bomber for the Italian Air Force - Built in Italy.|
|Export version of Vampire NF.10 for the Italian Air Force|
|Export version of the DH.115 Ttrainer - 6 converted from the T.11.|
|S.N.C.A.S.E. Vampire FB.53
|Four pre-series single-seat fighter-bombers for the Armee de l'Air. Built in France as the Sud-Est SE 535 Mistral.|
|S.N.C.A.S.E. SE-532 Mistral
|Initial production version of the Mk.53 for the Armée de l'Air.|
|S.N.C.A.S.E. SE-535 Mistral
|Development of the SE-532 built for the Armée de l'Air.|
Specifications (Vampire FB.5)
|Powerplant||3,100 lbst De Havilland Goblin 2|
|Span||38 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||12,360 lb|
|Armament||4 20mm Hispano cannon, underwing provision for drop tanks, two 1,000lb bombs or eight 3 inch rocket projectiles|
|Maximum Speed||535 mph|
|Maximum Range||1,170 miles|
There are around 80 Vampire aircraft still flying around the world, some in private hands and the list below is just a small sample.
Vampire F. MkIII
|Aerospace Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Vampire Mk.III||Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
|Sea Vampire T2||National Aeronautical and Space Museum, Santiago, Chile
|Vampire FB.6||Volandia Aviation Museum, Malpensa, Italy
|Vampire FB.52||Norwegian Historical Squadron, Rygge Flystasjon, Norway.
|Vampire T.55||Norwegian Historical Squadron, Rygge Flystasjon, Norway.
|Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, Bodø, Norway
|Vampire FB Mk 6||Rahmi M Koç Museum, Istanbul, Turkey
|Vampire F.1||Midland Air Museum, Coventry Airport, United Kingdom
|Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, United Kingdom
|Classic Air Force, Coventry Airport United Kingdom
|Vampire Preservation Group, North Weald, Essex, UK.
|Vampire FB.6||De Havilland Museum, London Colney, United Kingdom
|Vampire T.11||Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambs, United Kingdom
|Vampire Trainer T.Mk 11 (XE998)||Solent Sky Museum, Southampton, United Kingdom
|Vampire Mk.III||Planes of Fame, Grand Canyon Valle Airport, Valle Arizona, USA
|Vampire FB.5 / FB.55 (4) / T.55 (3)||South African Air Force Museum, Swartkop AFB, South Africa
|Vampire T.II||New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum, New Zealand