Staff Writer (Updated: 5/1/2015):
The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire held two key distinctions concerning aviation history - she was the first jet-powered aircraft anywhere to land on a moving aircraft carrier (this completed in her navalized "Sea Vampire" prototype guise) and she was the first jet aircraft in British service to be powered by a single turbojet engine - the previous attempts all fitted engines in pairs due to their low inherent power. To add to her early accolades was the fact that the Vampire became only the second British production military aircraft to be powered solely by jet technology (the Gloster Meteor being the first). The Vampire brought about a relatively new approach to jet fighter design that had usually centered on conversions of existing propeller-driven airframes and the mounting of engines underneath the wings, away from the fuselage. The Vampire did away with these approaches and fitted its engine into a centralized nacelle straddled by twin fuselage "boom" structures. Though arriving too late to see combat in World War 2, the Vampire would go on to find success throughout the ensuing Cold War years with air forces across Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Design of the Vampire began as early as 1942 but the system did not gain operational status until 1946, the war in Germany had concluded in May of 1945.
de Havilland DH.100 Vampire F.I (1946)
Type: Jet-Powered Fighter / Fighter-Bomber
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer(s): de Havilland - UK / Macchi - Italy / Sud-Est - France
Production Total: 3,268
30.74 feet (9.37 meters)
40.03 feet (12.20 meters)
8.83 feet (2.69 meters)
6,380 lb (2,894 kg)
10,494 lb (4,760 kg)
1 x de Havilland Goblin 1 turbojet engine developing 3,100 lb of thrust.
539 mph (868 kmh; 469 knots)
730 miles (1,175 km)
41,010 feet (12,500 meters; 7.8 miles)
4,300 feet-per-minute (1,311 m/min)
Armament / Mission Payload:
4 x 20mm Hispano Mk.V cannons under forward fuselage
8 x 3-inch 60lb unguided high-explosive rockets underwing.
2 x 500lb conventional drop bombs OR 2 x Fuel Drop Tanks underwing.
Up to a maximum of 2,000lbs of external ordnance.
British aircraft engineer Major Frank Bernard Halford had developed his H.1 engine (to become the "Goblin" turbojet) with enough thrust that a single installation of its type could power an airframe if given a short exhaust jetpipe for maximizing energy output and minimizing thrust loss. Halford combined resources with the de Havilland aviation firm and the DH.99 design was born. The DH.99 featured a twin-boom fuselage layout with a central nacelle containing the cockpit, proposed armament of four cannons, a powered retractable tricycle undercarriage and the jet powerplant. The skin was of all-metal and a short central fuselage nacelle was used to supply the shorter jet pipe length. After review, the Ministry of Aircraft Production requested the aircraft to feature construction of both wood and metal to which de Havilland obliged - having already garnered much hybrid construction practices with their war-winning prop-powered DH.98 Mosquito series. This revision created the new designation of "DH.100" in November of 1941. British authorities were intrigued enough to order a pair of prototypes under Specification E.6/41 and detailed design work was started on new aircraft then known as the "Spider Crab" in the middle of 1942. The prototype was assigned the in-house designation of LZ548/G.
First flight of a prototype occurred on September 20th, 1943 out of Hatfield with Geoffrey de Havilland, Jr at the controls. This aircraft was fitted with a Goblin 1 turbojet engine producing 2,700lbs of thrust. De Havilland, Jr. was the son of Geoffrey de Havilland, Sr., founder of the de Havilland firm. Delays meant that the fighter would not see production of the F.Mk I model until 1945, the initial production version flying for the first time in that year. Once the evaluations were complete and the DH.100 was accepted into service (know under the name of "Vampire") and production was outsourced to English Electric to allow de Havilland's facilities to work on other more pressing wartime needs. As such, most of the early Vampires were in fact English Electric products and some 244 of the initial Mk I fighters were ultimately delivered. The Vampire was also branched into the DH.113 dedicated nightfighter with radar, originally intended for Egypt, but redirected to the Royal Air Force due to an arms ban on the nation by the British government. The Vampire was spawned into the ever important trainer in the DH.115 Vampire T.11 and, amazingly, Vampire trainers were in RAF service up until 1966. At its peak usage, the Vampire stocked some 19 Royal Air Force squadrons around the world and a total of 3,268 examples of some 15 complete variants were ultimately produced for the British, Commonwealth forces and export customers. ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
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