De Havilland
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 De Havilland Aircraft Company DH110 Sea Vixen 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 De Havilland DH110 was a better basis for a carrier-based fleet defence strike fighter. This led to the release of a new specification N.131T, written specifically with the De Havilland DH110 in mind. De Havilland Aircraft Company 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 in both speed and performance, taking it well in excess of the speed of sound.
 
The De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen was involved in a grave tragedy at the Farnborough Air Show in 1952, 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 in a dive, it suffered a sudden structural break-up during a high G turn.

Tragically, the break-up saw the engines continued forward into the crowd, killing 29 spectators and injuring many others.   In addition, Test Pilot John Derry and Flight Engineer Tony Richards both lost their lives. 
 
After the accident, the remaining De Havilland DH110 prototype (WG240) was strengthened and certain areas were redesigned and it was almost a year before it recommenced flight trials.   Despite this, the RAF abandoned its interest in the aircraft selecting the Gloster Javelin instead.
 
Meanwhile, after the successful carrier trials, the the Fleet Air Arm decided to adopt the De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen to replace its Sea Venoms. It decidedly placed an order for 110 ‘Navalised aircraft’ which was subsequently renamed the De Havilland  DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.
 
In June 1955, a semi-navalised De Havilland  DH110 Sea Vixen FAW 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 the 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 De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen work was transferred to Harwarden near Chester, now home of Airbus Wing manufacture.
 
In total, a single prototype and 119 De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.1’s were built, followed by 29 De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2, to which configuration many (67) of the surviving FAW.1 aircraft were converted.
 
The De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen 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 De Havilland DH110 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, De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen were used to release bombs and rockets onto the wreck of the oil tanker Torrey Canyon, a 120,000 ton oil tanker which ran aground on Seven Stones Reef off the tip of Cornwall on 18th 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 © 2021 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 © 2021 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

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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

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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 © 2021 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 © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
 

Variants


De Havilland DH110
Sea Vixen
3 built
Prototypes WG236, WG240 & XF828
De Havilland 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.
De Havilland 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.
De Havilland DH110
Sea Vixen D3
3 built
Drone conversions from De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2

 

Specifications (De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen 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


De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.1 (XJ481)
Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK                            
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen
FAW.1 (XJ482)
Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton, UK
www.aviationmuseum.net
De Havilland DH100 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XJ490)
Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra, Australia
www.qam.com.au
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XJ494)
Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire, UK www.bruntingthorpeaviation.com
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XJ560)
Newark Air Museum, Winthorpe, Newark, Nottinghamshire, UK. www.newarkairmuseum.org
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XJ565)
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XJ571)
Solent Sky Museum, Southampton, United Kingdom www.solentskymuseum.org
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XJ580)
Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, Chichester, West Sussex, UK www.tangmere-museum.org.uk
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XN685)
Midland Air Museum, Coventry Airport, Coventry, Warwickshire, UK www.midlandairmuseum.co.uk
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XS576)
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen TT.2 (XS587 / G-VIXN)
Gatwick Aviation Museum, Charlwood, Surrey, UK
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XS590) Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK www.fleetairarm.com
De Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 (XP924) *
Fly Navy Heritage Trust, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK

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

 

Other information