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Vampire

de Havilland Vampire T11 XE856


XE856 was part of a batch of 135 Vampire T.11s delivered 10th December 1954 by de Havilland Aircraft Company at Hatfield, to contract 6/Acft/9751. Its construction number is 15596.

The aircraft was initially operated by 226 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at Stradishall and was then transferred to the Station Flight at RAF North Weald; her final operational posting was with number 219 Squadron at Driffield.

At the end of her operational career XE856 was sold 30th October 67 to Hawker Siddeley Aviation at Hawarden. She was moved around to a number of locations starting at St. Athan then to Chester, Woodford, Welwyn Garden City, Lasham, Long Marston, Catfoss, and finally Henlow where it was intended that she would be restored to flying condition.

As part of the intended restoration process XE856 was registered to Dusk till Dawn Aviation (the motto of 219 Sqn) as G-DUSK on 1st February 1999. The aircraft arrived (in parts) at Bournemouth Aviation Museum on 6th September 2005 where it was intended the restoration would commence, however the project did not come to fruition and the aircraft was sold to Bournemouth Aviation Museum.

The airplane has been stored on the back of a Queen Mary transport since the museum moved to its current location in October 2008 and is now receiving some TLC by our volunteers to restore her to add to our collection of aircraft on static display.

Technical Information - DH.115 Vampire T.11
Role: Twin seat jet trainer
Dimensions: Length 34ft 7in (10.53m)
Height 6ft 7in (2.0m)
Wing Span 38 ft (11.5m)
Wing Area 262 sq ft (79.4m)
Engine: One de Havilland D.Gn3 Goblin 3 turbojet producing 3,350 lb (1,520kg) thrust.
Weights: Empty 7,380 lb (3,350kg)
Maximum loaded 11,150 lb (5,060kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 538 mph (866km/h)
Normal service ceiling 40,000 ft (12,000m)
Range at 30,000 ft (9,000m) 840 miles (1,352km)
Armament: Four Hispano-Suiza Mk.5 cannon with 500 rounds per gun.

Background

The de Havilland Vampire

The de Havilland Vampire was a British jet-engine fighter. It was the first of three twin-boom fighters to be developed by de Havilland, the other two being the Venom and the larger Sea Vixen. The Vampire was commissioned by the RAF during the Second World War, and was the second jet fighter to enter service with the RAF, after the pioneering Gloster Meteor. Although it arrived too late to see combat during the war, it served with front line RAF squadrons until 1955, and continued in use as a trainer until 1966. It also served with many air forces worldwide, and set several aviation firsts and records.

Almost 3,300 Vampires were built, a quarter of them under licence in other countries. The Vampire design was also developed into the de Havilland Venom fighter-bomber as well as naval Sea Vampire variants.

Vampire Achievements

On 8 June 1946 the Vampire was introduced to the British public when Fighter Command's 247 Squadron was given the honour of leading the flypast over London at the Victory Day Celebrations.

The Vampire was a versatile aircraft, setting many aviation firsts and records, being the first RAF fighter with a top speed exceeding 500 mph (800 km/h). On 4th December 1945, a Sea Vampire piloted by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown became the first pure-jet aircraft to land on and take off from an aircraft carrier. Vampires were also used in trials from 1947 to 1955 to develop undercarriage-less fighters that could operate from flexible rubber decks on aircraft carriers, which would allow the weight and complication of an undercarriage to be eliminated. Despite demonstrating that the technique was practicable, with many landings being made with undercarriage retracted on flexible decks both at RAE Farnborough and onboard the carrier HMS Warrior, the proposal was not taken further.

On 23rd March 1948, John Cunningham, flying a modified Mk.I with extended wing tips and powered by a de Havilland Ghost engine, set a new world altitude record of 59,446 ft (18,119 m). On 14th July 1948, six Vampire F3s of No. 54 Squadron RAF became the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. They went via Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Keflavik in Iceland, and Goose Bay at Labrador, before going on to Montreal (c. 3,000 mi/4,828 km) to start the RAF’s annual goodwill tour of Canada and the U.S. where they gave several formation aerobatic displays.