The success of the Gloster Meteor led to De Havilland being approached to design and build an airframe for the Halford H1 turbojet engine (later to become the DH Goblin).
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 mounted behind a moulded, egg-shaped wood / aluminium fuselage and one single engine. The relative low power of the early jet engines normally called for twin installations but Halfords engine proved to be extremely efficient, making single engine fighters a real possibility.
In order to maximise the efficiency of this new technology and to respond to Ministry recommendations, the design was modified into a mixed wood and metal construction which was re-designated DH100 Vampire.
The prototype DH100 (LZ548/G) was first flown on 20th September 1943 at Hatfield by Geoffery de Havilland Junior (son of the founder), albeit some 6 months after the Meteor, having been delayed by engine availability.
The first production DH 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. It was given the honour of leading the VE-Day flypast over London.
The DH Vampire 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 DH Vampire FB.5 fighter bomber (a modified DH Vampire 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 DH 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. 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 DH Vampire 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 of the DH Vampire featured an extended wingspan and a DH Ghost engine and it was this aircraft that was to set a World Altitude record of 59,446 ft in March 1948. Later that year, 6 DH Vampire F3’s became the first jet fighters to fly across the Atlantic for an 'RAF Goodwill Tour of Canada'.
The DH100 Vampire finally retired from RAF service in 1966, being replaced by the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin.
There are large numbers of airworthy aircraft still flying today, predominantly due to its simple design and relatively easy maintenance.
In addition, there are over a hundred aircraft kept in superb condition and on display at museums around the world.
Variants & Numbers built (single seat aircraft)
|Initially known as ‘Spider Crab’. Powered by 2,700 lbst DH Goblin 1|
DH Vampire F.1
|Initial production with square top fins. 3,100 lbst Goblin 2 after 40th aircraft. Maximum weight 10,480 lb. Pressurised cockpit and drop tank provision from 51st aircraft onward. 70 sold to Sweden and operated as the J28A.|
DH Vampire Mk 2
|Converted from F.1 (plus one new build airframe) powered by 4,500 lb Rolls-Royce Nene. Fitted with dorsal intakes to provide airflow to Nene double-sided compressor. Served as prototypes for Australian Vampire FB.30.|
DH Vampire F.3
2 Prototypes and 202 built
|Revised tail surfaces of a more ‘de Havilland’ shape; tailplane chord increased. First flown 4 November 1946. Prototypes from F.1 and of production aircraft, 20 exported to Norway. Maximum weight increased to 11,970 lb. 86 aircraft sold to Canada and 20 to Norway.|
DH Vampire FB.5
|Fighter bomber variant. The most important production version with 88 of these being exported. Reduced wingspan (from 40 ft to 38 ft) with square tips and longer stroke undercarriage. 67 kits built in Britain for assembly in France for the French Air Force, followed by 183 built in France. These in turn were followed by 247 SNCASE SE535 Mistral (or Vampire FB.53) powered by the 5,000 lbst Hispano-built RR Nene 102.|
DH Vampire FB. 6
|Export variant, also built under licence in Switzerland with 100 for use by the Swiss Air Force. 3,350 lbst DH Goblin 3.|
DH Vampire FB. 9
|Tropical variant with cockpit air conditioning. Used by the RAF in Aden and Malaya. Built by Fairey Aviation at Stockport / Ringway with 19 being sold to Rhodesian Air Force.|
DH Vampire Mk.8
|Fitted with DH Ghost engine, converted from F.1.|
DH Sea Vampire
2 Prototypes and 18 production built.
|Sea Vampire based on FB.5 with arrester hook, strengthened wing and undercarriage and increased flap and air brake areas. Built by English Electric, Preston.|
DH Sea Vampire
F. Mk 21
|Sea Vampire modified from F.3 for flexible deck aircraft carrier belly landing trials.|
DH Vampire FB.25
|Export variant for New Zealand.|
DH Vampire FB.30
|Nene-powered Vampire for the RAAF. Built by de Havilland Australia, powered by 5,000 lbst Australian-built RR Nene2-VH. Initially with dorsal intakes, later removed. First Australian-built aircraft flown 29 June 1948.|
DH Vampire FB.31
23 built and 28 conversions
|Aircraft for RAAF, plus FB.30 conversions to FB.31.|
DH Vampire F.32
1 or 2 built
|Australian aircraft with cockpit air conditioning.|
DH Vampire FB.50
Export version for Sweden. Swedish Air force designation J28B.
DH Vampire FB.51
|Single prototype exported to France|
DH Vampire FB.52
|Export version including 36 for Norway. Other operators included Egypt, Finland, India, Iraq, Venezuela|
DH Vampire FB.52A
|Italian version, built under licence by Fiat / Macchi.|
|DH Vampire FB.53||Alternative designation of SE535 Mistral|
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|
Survivors (single seat aircraft)
There are many Vampire aircraft still flying around the world, some in private hands . A large number of aircraft are also displayed in museums in the many nations which operated the type. The list below covers only a selection of the surviving aircraft. (See also the pages for the DH113 and DH115, night fighter and trainer variants of the type, respectively.)
|DH Vampire F.3
|Aerospace Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada|
|DH Vampire F.3
|Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.|
|DH Vampire FB.6||Volandia Aviation Museum, Malpensa, Italy|
|DH Vampire FB.52||Norwegian Historical Squadron, Rygge Flystasjon, Norway.|
|DH Vampire FB.52||Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, Bodø, Norway|
|DH Vampire FB. 6||Rahmi M Koç Museum, Istanbul, Turkey|
|DH Vampire F.1
|Midland Air Museum, Coventry Airport, United Kingdom|
|DH Sea Vampire F.1||Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, United Kingdom|
|DH Vampire FB.6
|De Havilland Museum, London Colney, United Kingdom|
|DH Vampire F.3||Planes of Fame, Grand Canyon Valle Airport, Valle Arizona, USA|
DH Vampire FB.5 / FB.55
|South African Air Force Museum, Swartkop AFB, South Africa|