de Havilland Vampire T.11 XD599
Our Vampire was built by de Havilland in Hatfield in 1954 as a two-seat training aeroplane powered by a Gobin 3 jet engine. She then saw service with No.1 Squadron Royal Air Force before moving to RAF Cranwell to train pilots to fly the Hunter, Javelin and Meteor aircraft then in front line service. The Vampire's jet 'pod' and boom configuration was unique at the time and the pod itself was based on the cockpit of the legendary de Havilland Mosquito, also being made of laminated plywood sections.
Our Vampire ended its active days with the Central Air Traffic Control School (in whose colours it currently appears) at RAF Shawbury, moving there in 1965 and eventually being sold to the Stroud Technical College in 1970. After a spell with them it then languished for many years at Caernarfon before it was disposed of.
The nose section was saved and transported to North Weald by a new owner who restored it. The Museum acquired it in 2004. Externally the cockpit is in superb condition and is trailer mounted - internally she needs a spruce up but all instrumentation, gunsight, throttles, sticks, pedals, rocket panels and ejector seats are present. Museum staff are still working on the cockpit, and she is towed outside for display whenever possible - normally she is housed inside the Paul Morgan Display Hall.
The Museum had been looking for a Vampire for some time, as this is the only military jet to have been operated from Sywell (the concrete pans that used to be seen at the end of the longest grass runway were there to stop Vampire exhausts setting fire to the grass!) and indeed Brooklands Aviation overhauled over 300 examples here in the 1940s-50s so she is a very relevant acquisition.