The Vampire began as an experimental aircraft with design work beginning at the de Havilland works at Hatfield in mid 1942.
Originally named the ‘Spider Crab’, the aircraft was entirely a de Havilland project, exploiting the company’s extensive experience in using moulded plywood for aircraft construction, as used in the Mosquito bomber. It was the last time composite wood and metal construction was used in high performance military aircraft. It had conventional straight mid-wings and a single jet engine placed in an egg-shaped, aluminium surfaced fuselage exhausting in a straight line. To reduce the losses caused by a long jetpipe the designers used the distinctive tail with twin booms.
The prototype LZ584G had its maiden test flight on 20 September 1943 from Hatfield, England. The production Vampire Mk1 did not fly until April 1945. Although eagerlytaken into service by the RAF, it was still being developed at war’s end, consequently the Vampire never saw combat in World War 2.
Under special arrangement with Australia, de Havilland built 80 single seat aircraft at their Bankstown factory. The first Australian built aircraft flew in June 1949. The single seat aircraft were powered by Rolls Royce Nene engines, built under license by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Melbourne. These were the first jet engines built in Australia and were reclassified as Vampire FB.Mk 30s. The aircraft was developed initially as a single seat fighter but was subsequently developed into a night fighter, fighter/bomber and trainer versions. A total of 3,987 were built world-wide between 1943 and 1961.
In 1962 the Central Flying School RAAF was responsible for producing the RAAFs aerobatic display teams. The first formed was a team of four, called the ‘Red Sales’, flying de Havilland Vampire jet aircraft. A second team, the ‘Telstars’ was formed in 1963 also flying Vampires.
Vampire A79-665 was used by the Telstars and was restored by 25 Squadron at RAAF Pearce and became part of the now defunct West Australian Museum of Aviation. It was sold for $20,000 in 1994 and was subsequently purchased by HARS.
Length 9.37 m | 30 ft 9 in
Wing Span 11.6 m | 38 ft
Height 1.88 m | 6 ft 2 in
Empty Weight 3,300 kg | 7,270 lbs
Maximum Take Off Weight 5,618 kg | 12,385 lbs
Maximum Speed 860 km/h | 530 mph
Maximum Range 1,755 kms | 1,090 mls
Service Ceiling 12,000 m | 40,000 ft
Power Plant De Havilland Goblin 2 turbojet
Power Plant Weight 6.3 kg | 1,420 lbs
Guns 4 x 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk. V cannon
Rockets 8 x 76 mm (3 in) rockets
Bombs 2 x 455 kg (1,000 lb) bombs