DescriptionThe de Havilland Vampire is a British jet fighter which was developed and manufactured by the de Havilland Aircraft Company.
It was the second jet fighter to be operated by the RAF, after the Gloster Meteor, and the first to be powered by a single jet engine.
The de Havilland Vampire was a jet-powered twin-boom aircraft, typically employed in the fighter and fighter bomber roles. Aviation author Francis K Mason referred to it as being "the last unsophisticated single-engine front line aircraft to serve with Britain's Fighter Command"; the Vampire was a relatively straightforward aircraft, employing only manually operated flight controls, no radar, a simple airframe, and, aside from the propulsion system, made use of mostly conventional practices and technologies. The distinctive twin-boom tail configuration of the Vampire was one of the only non-traditional airframe features when compared to its contemporaries.
The layout of the DH.100 used a single jet engine installed in an egg-shaped fuselage which was primarily composed of plywood for the forward section and aluminium throughout the aft section. It was furnished with conventional mid-mounted straight wings; air brakes were installed on the wings to slow the aircraft, better enabling it to manoeuvre into a firing position behind slower aircraft, a feature that had also been incorporated in the Meteor. Armament comprised four 20mm Hispano Mk V cannon located underneath the nose; from the onset of the design phase, even when the aircraft was officially intended to serve only as an experimental aircraft, the provision for the cannon armament had been included.
3,268 Vampires were built in 15 versions, including twin-seat night fighters, trainers and carrier-based aircraft designated Sea Vampire. The Vampire was used by 31 air forces. Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.S. were the only major Western powers not to use the aircraft.
Vampires in the RAAF
During 1946, government approval was given for the purchase of an initial 50 Vampire fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The first three machines of this batch were British-built aircraft, an F1, F2 and FB.5, and were given serial numbers A78-1 to A78-3. The second aircraft, the F2 (A78-2), was significant in that it was powered by the more powerful Rolls-Royce Nene jet engine, rather than the standard Goblin unit.
All of the 80 F.30 fighters and FB.31 fighter-bomber Vampires that were subsequently built by de Havilland Australia were powered by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) versions of the Nene engine manufactured under licence at their facility in Melbourne. The Nene required a greater intake cross-section than the Goblin, and the initial solution was to mount auxiliary intakes on top of the fuselage behind the canopy. Unfortunately these intakes led to elevator blanking on formation of shock waves, and three aircraft and pilots were lost in unrecoverable dives. All of the Nene-engined aircraft were later modified to move the auxiliary intakes beneath the fuselage, thus entirely avoiding the problem.
For much more information on the Vampire and all its variants, click here.
Specifications below are for the F.30 single-seat interceptor fighter version for the RAAF.
- 9.4 m (30 ft 9 in)
- 11.6 m (38 ft)
- 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)
- Wing Area:
- 24.34 m² (262 sq ft)
- Empty Weight:
- 3,447 kg (7,600 lb)
- 4,990 kg (11,000 lb)
- One 5,000 lbst Rolls Royce Nene 2-VH turbojet
- Max speed: at 9,144 m (30,000 ft) 882 km/h (548 mph)
- 1,964 km (1,220 miles)
- Rate of Climb:
- 1,463 m/min (4,800 ft/min)
- Service Ceiling:
- 13,106 m (43,000 ft)