The Vampire Plane That Changed Aviation Forever

Aircraft Overview:

de Havilland Vampire - Wikipedia

Designed at Salisbury Hall, and built and first flown at Hatfield in 1943, the Vampire single-seat fighter was the first de Havilland jet aircraft. It is of compact pod and twin-boom design, with a single DH Goblin centrifugal turbojet behind the cockpit, fed by wing-root air intakes. Given the modest thrust of the early turbojets, this configuration offered short intake ducts and jet pipe, for minimum propulsive losses, and with the hot exhaust passing below the tailplane. The rear engine freed nose space for a retractable tricycle undercarriage, giving an excellent forward view for the pilot, the raised tail avoiding jet exhaust damage to airfield turf and tarmac. The absence of a propeller allowed a short undercarriage, which retracts outwards because of the intake ducting inboard. The pod structure is balsa/plywood sandwich semi-monocoque, the rest of the airframe being light alloy stressed skin. Other features include:

  • Manual controls,
  • A pressurised cockpit with a moulded Perspex canopy,
  • Four belt-fed 20 mm Hispano cannon,
  • Split flaps and,
  • wing trailing edge dive-brakes.

Counting all versions, 3,269 Vampires were built in Britain, plus 1,097 abroad. Ground attack versions could carry a 500 lb bomb or four Mk.8 RPs (rocket projectiles) under each wing. These fighter-bomber (FB) variants had a strengthened undercarriage to take the greater weight, and additional armour plate protection under the engine.

Aircraft Specifications:

Power Unit: One 3,350 lb.s.t de Havilland Goblin 3

Wing Span: 38 ft (11.58 m)

All-up Weight (A.U.W): 12,390 lb (5,620 kg)

Max Speed: 548 mph (881 kph)

Ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,192 m)

Range: 1,220 miles (1,963 km)

On Display at the Museum:

The Museum’s FB.6 was one of 175 for the Swiss Air Force. Built at Hatfield in 1949, it was acquired by the Museum in 1974 and restored in 1994. It has a Martin Baker ejector seat, retrofitted by the Swiss in 1960.

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