With the de Havilland Venom already in the works for the British Royal Air Force (RAF), the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA) took interest in a navalized form of the versatile twin-boom, turbojet-powered fighter for use on its carrier decks as an all-weather interceptor/fighter-bomber. Specifically, the Venom NF.Mk 2, the dedicated two-seat night-fighter form of the Venom, was elected for modification. Changes to the original design included a reinforced undercarriage, an arrestor hook under the tail for carrier landings and powered folding wings for carrier storage. The resulting design emerged to undertake its first flight on April 19th, 1951 and three prototypes were eventually constructed. Carrier trials then followed in 1952 and the type presented for service by 1956 as the de Havilland "Sea Venom". Initial production models were recognized as FAW.Mk 20, outfitted with the Ghost 103 series turbojet engine of 4,850 lbs thrust and featured the American SCR 720 radar (as the AI Mk 10). Standard armament was 4 x Hispano Mk.V cannon with support for 2 x 1,000lbs drop bombs or 8 x 60lb RP-3 unguided rockets underwing.
Following FAW.Mk 20 was FAW.Mk 21 which brought about use of the de Havilland Ghost 104 turbojet engine of 4,950lbs thrust. Radar became the American APS-57 (as the AI Mk 21) and the undercarriage was further reinforced for the rigors of carrier operations. These airframes were largely based on the Venom NF.Mk 3 night-fighter variant and some 167 of the type were ultimately delivered. Of those, six were eventually converted to Electronic CounterMeasures (ECMs) platforms under the designation ECM.Mk 21 and lacked the armament of their fighter-bomber brethren.
Next came the improved FAW.Mk 22 which featured a more powerful de havilland Ghost 105 turbojet of 5,300lbs thrust. Thirty-nine aircraft were produced from in this mold. FAW.Mk 22 featured a maximum speed of 575 miles per hour with a range out to 700 miles and service ceiling up to 39,500 feet. The aircraft exhibited a rate-of-climb of 5,750 feet per minute. Again, an ECM variant was brought out of the existing FAW.Mk 22 stock and these designated as ECM.Mk 22.
The Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm (RANFAA) arranged for three squadrons to field the Sea Venom when their turn came - squadrons 724, 805 and 808 - and these Sea Venoms served under the local designation of FAW.Mk 21 across 39 examples.
RAF Sea Venoms were used in operational actions during the Suez Crisis of 1956 which saw the nation of Egypt attempt to nationalize the world-important Suez Canal. Britian was joined by France and Israel in their venture with Sea Venoms launched from HMS Albion and HMS Eagle. Sea Venoms undertook various bombing missions against Egyptian targets of opportunity. Additional actions then greeted the type during the 1958 Cyprus Emergency and continued in faithful service up until her usefulness as a frontline aircraft was deemed over.
All Sea Venoms were eventually removed from service by 1970, replaced by more modern types emerging from the technological explosion seen during the Cold War decades. Sea Venoms were replaced by another de Havilland product - the famous twin-engine, twin-seat "Sea Vixen" (detailed elsewhere on this site) which incorporated swept-back wings and continued the twin-boom de Havilland tradition with its jet aircraft.
French Navy Sea Venoms - the Aquilon
Beyond the U.K. and Australia, the only other Sea Venoms in service were with the French Navy and these became license-production examples from the SNCASE (Sud-Est) concern under the local designation of "Aquilon". The Aquilon was procured along three distinct variant designations with initial models being Aquilon 20 and numbering twenty-nine examples. The Aquilon 202 was a twin-seat variant with American-originated AN/APQ-65 radar of which 50 were eventually taken on. Aquilon 203 was the single-seat Sea Venom form and outfitted with AN/APQ-94 radar and provision for air-to-air missiles (AAMs). Production of this mark totaled 40 units. Aquilon 201 was a one-off prototype and six Aquilon 20s were converted to the Aquilon 204 twin-seat trainer (sans cannon armament). 11F and 16F Naval Squadron fielded Aquilons.
The DH.116 Sea Venom
For a short time, there stood the potential for the Sea Venom to experience its ultimate evolution as the proposed DH.116. The existing aircraft was to be given a modernized radar system with greater capabilities as well as swept-back wings. The project did not progress far and Royal Navy interest eventually settled on the aforementioned Sea Vixen.
(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.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
36.7 ft (11.20 m)
42.8 ft (13.06 m)
8.5 ft (2.60 m)
9,259 lb (4,200 kg)
15,807 lb (7,170 kg)
+6,548 lb (+2,970 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the de Havilland DH.112 Sea Venom FAW.Mk 22 production variant)
1 x de Havilland Ghost 105 turbojet engine developing 5,300lb of thrust.
4 x 20mm Hispano Mk.V 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
NF.Mk 20 - Prototype Form of which three produced.
FAW.Mk 20 - Initial production model; fitting de Havilland Ghost 103 turbojet of 4,850lbs thrust; AI Mk 10 radar; 50 examples.
FAW.Mk 21 - Fitted with de Havilland Ghost 104 turbojet of 4,950lbs thrust; AI Mk 21 radar; reinforced undercarriage; 167 examples.
ECM.Mk 21 - Electronic CounterMeasures variant of FAW.Mk 21 fighters; sans armament.
FAW.Mk 22 - Fitted with de Havilland Ghost 105 turbojet engine of 5,300lbs thrust; 39 examples.
ECM.Mk 22 - ECM variant of FAW.Mk 22 fighter.
FAW.Mk 53 - Australian Navy designation of FAW.Mk 21 fighters; 39 examples.
Aquilon 20 - French Designation for early-built aircraft; 29 examples.
Aquilon 201 - One-off French prototype
Aquilon 202 - French Navy twin-seat variant with AN/APG-65 radar; 50 examples.
Aquilon 203 - French Navy single-seat version based on Aquilon 202 model; AN/APG-94 radarl air-to-air missile provisions.
Aquilon 204 -French Navy twin-seat trainer model; six conversions from Aquilon 20 model; sans cannon armament.
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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Image courtesy of the official Australian Navy website - www.navy.gov.au
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