The de Havilland Vampire became the British Royal Air Force's second jet-powered fighter after the famous Gloster Meteor, itself appearing in the latter stages of World War 2 (1939-1945). The Vampire was produced in 3,268 examples and managed a service career from 1945 to 1979, ultimately retired with the forces of Rhodesia. From this same aircraft was spawned the de Havilland DH.112 "Venom" which featured a similar twin-boom configuration, single-seat cockpit and single turbojet engine installation. It retained the Vampire's straight-wing approach and was to serve as a bridge between the outgoing early-generation turbojet engine types and the incoming breed of new, axial-flow designs beginning to appear - this coupled with swept-wing configurations for much improved speed and performance.
Design work on what would become the "Venom" began in 1948 under the direction of the de Havilland Aircraft Company as a direct successor to the Vampire - the Vampire a capable, though now-limited, jet-powered fighter/fighter-bomber. An existing Vampire airframe was modified to serve as prototype and first flight was achieved on September 2nd, 1949. The design was taken into service with the Royal Air Force under the model designation of FB.Mk 1.
As built, the Venom was granted more power through the new de Havilland Ghost turbojet engine over the Vampire's de Havilland Goblin series. The engine outputted at 4,850lbs of thrust which provided a maximum speed of 640 miles per hour, a range out to 1,080 miles and a service ceiling of 39,400 feet. Rate-of-Climb neared 9,000 feet per minute. Armament remained similar to the Vampire's with 4 x Hispano Mk.V cannons along with support for either conventional drop bombs (2 x 1,000lb types) or air-to-surface RP-3 rockets. The Venom was formally introduced into the RAF inventory during 1952.
The original FB.Mk 1 model was produced across 375 examples. From this was born a dedicated night-fighter line in the NF.Mk 2 which was trialed beginning in August of 1950 and adopted in 1953. The design was originally intended as an Egyptian export product before being taken on by the RAF. A second crewman was added to manage the radar system as well as night-time navigation to which the cockpit was redesigned as a side-by-side seating arrangement. Ninety-one of this form were produced. The NF. Mk 2A was based on the NF.Mk 2 though with reinforced wings to alleviate fatal stresses being registered in the earlier marks. The NF. Mk 3 was an improved form that followed in 1955 and this included ejection seats for the two crew. It was also finished with the new de Havilland Ghost 104 series turbojet engine and a new nose assembly housed an American-originated radar system. One hundred twenty-three of this mark eventually appeared. The NF.Mk 51 became an export-minded night-fighter variant and taken on by the air force of Sweden through 60 examples.
The FB.Mk 4 was the final standard fighter-bomber configuration to be adopted by the Royal Air Force. This variant incorporated a new de Havilland Ghost 105 series turbojet engine and an ejection seat as standard for the single crew. Two-hundred fifty of this type were produced in all. The FB.Mk 50 became an export fighter-bomber mark and saw deliveries to both Iraq and Switzerland with production totaling fifteen units in all. Another export fighter-bomber mark proved to be the FB.Mk 54 which was taken on by both Venezuela and Switzerland and numbered twenty-two units. Italy became another operator of the Venom line and New Zealand eventually operated British Venoms for a time.
Total Venom production was around 1,000 aircraft.
For the Royal Air Force, the Venom operated across some twenty-eight total squadrons during her service life. These were pressed into service during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) which pitted pro-Western forces against emerging communist threats in Southeast Asia (resulting in a British Commonwealth victory). From there, Venoms were to play a role in the upcoming Suez Crisis (1956) which saw a combined force of British, French and Israeli against Egypt when Egypt attempted to nationalize the Suez Canal. RAF Venoms were pulled from frontline service during 1962, having completed a decade of faithful service. The last examples of operational Venoms were retired through the Swiss Air Force in 1983, signaling the end of the line for the storied British jet fighter.
The "Sea Venom" (detailed elsewhere on this site) became a direct offshoot of the Venom line, navalized for service on British carriers. Operators of this type also included Australia and France (as the "Aquilon").
Iraq; Italy; New Zealand; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom; Venezuela
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
31.8 ft (9.70 m)
41.7 ft (12.70 m)
5.9 ft (1.80 m)
9,204 lb (4,175 kg)
15,432 lb (7,000 kg)
+6,228 lb (+2,825 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the de Havilland DH.112 Venom FB.Mk 1 production variant)
1 x de Havilland Ghost 103 turbojet engine developing 4,850 lb of thrust.
4 x 20mm Hispano Mk.V internal automatic cannons.
2 x 1,000lb conventional drop bombs OR 8 x 60lb RP-3 aerial rockets
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2
DH.112 - Prototype / Series Designation.
FB.Mk 1 - Initial single-seat fighter mark of 1952; 375 examples.
NF.Mk 2 - Initial two-seat night-fighter mark; 91 examples.
NF.Mk 2A - Improved night-fighter; reinforced wing elements.
NF.Mk 3 - Third night-fighter mark; completed with ejection seats for crew; fitted with de Havilland Ghost 104 turbojet engine; revised nose for American radar system; 123 examples.
FB.Mk 4 - Fighter-Bomber mark; fitted with de havilland Ghost 105 turbojet engine; ejection seats; 250 examples.
FB.Mk 50 - Export fighter-bomber for Iraq and Switzerland; 15 examples.
NF.Mk 51 - Export night-fighter; taken on by Sweden as J33; 60 examples.
FB.Mk 54 - Export fighter-bomber mark to Venezuela and Switzerland; 22 examples.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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