de Havilland Sea Vampire  (LZ551/G)

de Havilland Sea Vampire  (LZ551/G)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

The Sea Vampire (DH100) was based the RAF’s Vampire and it became the first jet to be operated by the Royal Navy.  Powered by the Goblin 2, engine giving 3,000lb of thrust, the Sea Vampire had a maximum speed of 526 mph and a range of 1,145 miles at 350mph.  It could 4 x 20mm guns and was built in single seat and two seat versions.

The only Vampire F.10 was modified with 40% extra flaps, long travel oleos and an arrestor hook to become the third prototype Sea Vampire (LZ551/G).  This Sea Vampire Mk 10 made the first ever jet deck landing on HMS Ocean on the 3rd December 1945 and was flown by Lt Cdr Eric "Winkle" Brown.  Incidentally, Brown is also the all-time record holder for the number of carrier landings, at 2,407.  After these successful tests, there were still many misgivings about the suitability of operating jet aircraft routinely from carriers, and LZ551/G was taken to Farnborough to participate in trials of the experimental flexible "rubber" deck.

de Havilland Sea Vampire  (LZ551/G)

de Havilland Sea Vampire  (LZ551/G)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

A naval variant of the FB.5, the Sea Vampire Mk 20, was the production version for the Navy and 18 were built by English Electric.  Powered by the Goblin 2 engine the wing was strengthened and the dive brakes and flaps enlarged to reduce landing speeds.  Although armed with four 20mm cannon the type was in the main issued to second-line units for jet familiarization.

Three aircraft (TG286, VG701 and VT802) were converted for trial work as the Sea Vampire Mk 21.  The three prototypes were fitted with a strengthened fuselage for undercarriage-less trials on the rubberised deck.  The trials were conducted at RAE Farnborough and then on HMS Warrior between 1949 and 1953.  Despite the significant effort towards developing this idea it was found to be unnecessary concept following the introduction of angled flight decks. Jets were operating from carriers by the mid 1950s.

de Havilland Sea Vampire  (LZ551/G)

de Havilland Sea Vampire  (LZ551/G)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

LZ551/G flew for the first time on the 6th June 1945 as a Vampire F.10.  After modifications during the autumn of 1945 LZ551/G started landing trials on HMS Ocean and became the first jet in the World to land on a ship at sea on the 3rd December 1945.  After the trials LZ551/G R returned to Farnborough in February 1946 for development trials on the experimental flexible "rubber" deck.  During July 1946 LZ551/G was used for demonstration work on HMS Ocean before being sent to RNAS Ford for 778NAS in November 1946.  In February 1957 LZ551/G was sent to RAE Farnborough for arrester barrier trials. Eventually sold to de Havilland at Hatfield LZ551/G was offered to the Mosquito Museum but the offer was turned down due to a lack of space so LZ551/G was passed on to the Science Museum.  LZ5521/G arrived at the Fleet Air Arm Museum on the 21st February 1994 is on loan from the Science Museum.

The Sea Vampire T.22 (DH115) was the equivalent of the RAF's T.11 and 73 were built by de Havilland.  No arrestor hook was fitted and the variant was similar in most respects to the RAF version but did include various minor equipment changes.  The type served in the training and communications roles.