Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

Vickers (Supermarine) Type 559

High-Speed, High-Altitude Interceptor Proposal

Vickers (Supermarine) Type 559

High-Speed, High-Altitude Interceptor Proposal


The Vickers Type 559 high-speed, high-altitude interceptor was intended to satisfy a Cold War-era requirement for the Royal Air Force - it was not furthered.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1955
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Vickers-Armstrong (Supermarine) - UK
OPERATORS: United Kingdom

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Vickers (Supermarine) Type 559 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 68.24 feet (20.8 meters)
WIDTH: 41.99 feet (12.8 meters)
HEIGHT: 15.26 feet (4.65 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 41,491 pounds (18,820 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 66,139 pounds (30,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x de Havilland "Gyron" PS.26/1 afterburning turbojet engines developing 20,000lb of thrust each; 2 x de Havilland "Spectre" rocket motor producing 5,000lb of thrust each.
SPEED (MAX): 1,920 miles-per-hour (3,090 kilometers-per-hour; 1,668 knots)
RANGE: 1,025 miles (1,650 kilometers; 891 nautical miles)
CEILING: 59,055 feet (18,000 meters; 11.18 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 51,000 feet-per-minute (15,545 meters-per-minute)

2 x "Red Hebe" radar-guided air-to-air missiles OR 2 x "Blue Jay" InfraRed (IR) air-to-air missiles mounted over the fuselage.
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-radar/anti-radiation missile

Series Model Variants
• Type 559 - Base Project Designation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Vickers (Supermarine) Type 559 High-Speed, High-Altitude Interceptor Proposal.  Entry last updated on 3/19/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Operational Requirement (OR) "F.155" of 1955, calling for a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor, resulted in many proposed designs to come from the usual British defense houses - Armstrong-Whitworth (AW), Fairey, Hawker, Vickers, etc. For Vickers, their contribution became the "Type 559", a large, twin-seat combination propulsion scheme speedster designed around a canard wing configuration. Like others in the series of F.155 proposals, the Type 559 went nowhere as British thinking shifted towards the missile age following the Defence White Paper review of May 1957.

Nuclear-capable Soviet bombers poised the biggest threat to freedom and stability in the West so, as a response, interceptor programs were taken on by the British as well as the United States and the French. The need was great for a Mach 2.0 or greater aircraft built around powerful jets with the possibility of using rockets to augment output thrust. Coupled with this high-performance would be an all-in-one weapons suite encompassing advanced missiles (heat-seeking and beam-riding) as well as Airborne Interceptor (A.I.) radar, the latter set in the nosecone.

To help manage the technologically-heavy aircraft, a crew of two was a necessity and for maximum survival, ejection seats, multiple engines, and cockpit pressurization would become requirements.

The resultant design was unique in that it utilized a canard-centric arrangement - small planes fitted towards the front end of the fuselage. These would work in conjunction with a more traditional set of mainplanes fitted further aft in the design. The mainplanes were given straight trailing edges, swept-back leading edges, and featured the vertical tail fins at their tips. The fuselage was made deep to accommodate the twin turbojets seated over-under (as in the subsequent English Electric Lighting jet-powered fighter later taken on by the RAF). The rocket boosters would straddle the engines at their exhaust ports, concentrating thrust around the aircraft's centerline and mass. Aspiration for the turbojet engines would be had through a ventrally situated intake with ductwork running to the engines at the rear. The entire aircraft would be supported when running on the ground by a wholly retractable undercarriage involving a single-wheeled nose leg and twin-wheeled main legs, the wheels at these legs seated in line. All would retract into the body of the aircraft - which would feature aluminum allow throughout its construction with critical heat-generating components set to be skinned in titanium.

The cockpit was set at the front of the fuselage in typical fashion, though aft of the nosecone set to house the interception radar fit. The cockpit would be framed as usual and seat its two crew - pilot and navigator/weapons operator - in a side-by-side arrangement.

The aircraft was drawn up with a running length of 68.2 feet, a wingspan of 42 feet and a height of 15.2 feet. Empty weight reached 41,500lb while Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) peaked at near 30,000lb. All told, the Type 559 was one of the larger submissions entertained for requirement F.155.

At the heart of the Type 559's propulsion scheme was a combination powerplant involving two afterburning turbojets and a pair of rocket motors for boost power. This was intended to satisfy high cruising speeds, dash speeds, and rate-of-climb for the interceptor design. 2 x de Havilland "Gyron" PS.26/1 turbojets would output 20,000lb of thrust each while 2 x de Havilland "Spectre Junior" boosters would supply momentary thrust output, adding an additional 5,000lb of power each. All told, this would help to get the interceptor up to speeds of Mach 2.5 and a service ceiling near 60,000 feet while rate-of-climb was estimated to be 51,000 feet-per-minute.

As for armament, and like other F.155 entrants, the Type 559 was set to carry a pair of air-to-air missiles, these to become either the "Red Hebe" beam-riding weapon or the "Blue Jay" Mk.4 heat-seeker. As the wing tips of the mainplanes were taken up by the vertical tail fins, this meant that the missiles would be seated against the fuselage atop wingstub-like protrusions. The supports were added near midships along the dorsal facing of the fuselage to complete the aircraft's look (this physical feature was also used in the English Electric Lighting fighter).

With the end of the F.155/F.155T requirement following the defense review of 1957, hopes for the Type 559 ended as well.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 2000mph
Lo: 1000mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,920mph).

Graph average of 1500 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Vickers (Supermarine) Type 559's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Site Map Site content ©2003-, All Rights Reserved.

The "Military Factory" name and logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo