Records and achievements
The first carrier landing and takeoff of a jet aircraft was performed by test pilot Eric "Winkle" Brown in 1945, when he landed and took off again from HMS Ocean.
On 8 June 1946, the Vampire was introduced to the British public when Fighter Command's 247 Squadron was given the honour of leading the flypast over London at the Victory Day Celebrations.
The Vampire was a versatile aircraft, setting many aviation firsts and records, being the first RAF fighter with a top speed exceeding 500 mph (800 km/h). On 3 December 1945, a Sea Vampire piloted by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown became the first pure-jet aircraft to land on and take off from an aircraft carrier.
On 23 March 1948, John Cunningham, flying a modified Mk I with extended wing tips and powered by a de Havilland Ghost engine, set a new world altitude record of 59,446 ft (18,119 m).
On 14 July 1948, six Vampire F.3s of No. 54 Squadron RAF became the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean when they arrived in Goose Bay, Labrador. They went via Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Keflavik in Iceland and Bluie West 1, Greenland. From Goose Bay airfield they went on to Montreal (c. 3,000 mi/4,830 km) to start the RAF’s annual goodwill tour of Canada and the US where they gave formation aerobatic displays.
The first prototype of the "Vampire Fighter-Bomber Mk 5" (FB.5), modified from a Vampire F.3, carried out its initial flight on 23 June 1948. The FB.5 retained the Goblin III engine of the F.3, but featured armour protection around engine systems, wings clipped back by 1 ft (30 cm), and longer-stroke main landing gear to handle greater takeoff weights and provide clearance for stores/weapons load. An external tank or 500 lb (227 kg) bomb could be carried under each wing, and eight "3-inch" rocket projectiles ("RPs") could be stacked in pairs on four attachments inboard of the booms. Although an ejection seat was considered, it was not fitted.
At its peak, 19 RAF squadrons flew the FB.5 in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. The FB.5 undertook attack missions during the successful British Commonwealth campaign to suppress the insurgency in Malaya in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The FB.5 fighter-bomber became the most numerous single-seat variant with 473 aircraft produced.
The NF.10 served from 1951 to 1954 with three squadrons (23, 25 and 151) but was often flown in daytime as well as night time. After replacement by the Venom conversions were made to NF(T).10 standard for operation by the Central Navigation and Control School at RAF Shawbury. Others were sold to the Indian Air Force.
The RAF eventually relegated the Vampire to advanced training roles in the mid-1950s and the type was generally out of RAF service by the end of the decade.
Following carrier-landing trials on on the carrier HMS Ocean with a modified prototype Vampire the Royal Navy ordered a navalised variant of the Vampire FB.5 as the Sea Vampire, the first Royal Navy jet aircraft. Two prototypes were followed by 18 production aircraft which were used to gain experience in carrier jet operations before the arrival of the two-seat Sea Vampire T.22 trainers.
The final Vampire was the T (trainer) model. First flown from the old Airspeed Ltd factory at Christchurch, Hampshire on 15 November 1950, production deliveries of the trainer began in January 1952. Over 600 examples of the T.11 were produced at Hatfield and Chester and by Fairey Aviation at Manchester Airport, in both air force and naval models. The T models remained in service with the RAF until 1966. There was a Vampire trainer in service at CFS RAF Little Rissington until at least January 1972.
In postwar service, the RAF employed the Gloster Meteor as an interceptor and the Vampire as a ground-attack fighter-bomber (although their roles probably should have been reversed).
De Havilland Vampire in the Royal Norwegian Air Force
It was already clear when WW2 ended in 1945 and 331 and 332 squadron was transferred from the RAF to the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) that Spitfires was outdated and they were forced to look for suitable jets. Norway's only international test pilot , Erik Sandberg was sent to England in 1946 and joined the de Havilland test pilots to assess the Vampire. He flew Vampire Mk.1 in January 1947 and later In May Gloster Meteor Mk.IV at Gardermoen AB. These two aircraft types were the only real choice at the time. Sandberg preferred the Gloster Meteor, but it was felt that the Vampire with its greater angle of climb, smaller turning radius and shorter landing run was more suitable to Norway’s geography. The Vampire was also half the price of the Meteor. In addition the Swedes had chosen Vampire as their aircraft, so the RNoAF chose to buy the Vampire.
The RNoAF ordered four Vampire Mk.3 for trial later increased to 20 aircrafts. These would be followed by 36 FB.Mk. 52. The political situation in Europe made the RAF had huge demand for FB.Mk.5 models, and it was clear that deliverys to Norway had to be postponed. The RNoAF ordered therefore eight Mk.3 as an preliminary solution. Later this order extended to 16 aircraft The first two Vampire Mk.3 arrived at Gardermoen 2 May In 1948 . The next Mk.3’s arrived in groups until 7 October 1949 with B - AW as the last . an order of 20 FB.Mk.52 (export version of FB.Mk.5 ) was expanded to 36 aircraft. These were to start arrive in December 1949 . The delivery of FB.Mk. 52 lasted until March 1951.
The first Vampire Mk 3 was delivered to 331 Squadron in where they formed C Flight. The rest of 331 Sqn. was still flying Spitfire Mk IX. Soon 336 squadron was formed at Gardermoen as Norway’s first pure jet fighter squadron where all Vampire Mk.3 were transferred. Later 337 Squadron was formed and the two squadrons formed a Vampire wing at Gardermoen. Each squadron would have 28 aircraft. 336 squadron therefore had 20 Mk.3 + 8 FB. Mk.52 , while 337 squadron had 28 FB. Mk.52. There was a great demand for jet trainer and 6 Vampire T.Mk. 55 was commissioned in June 1951 for delivery in 1952. These were distributed between 336 and 337 squadron in its A, B and C wings. Later two-seater T.55 was also used by Jet Training Wing at Sola later 718 Sqn. These were used as advanced trainer, instrument trainer and weapons trainers. Armament was four 20 millimeter Hispano machine cannons, two 500 Lbs bombs and rockets against ground targets.