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.

Vampire XD599 airborne; MAP

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.

Derelict at Caernarfon, 1997; Damien Burke

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.

Vampire XD599 today

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.

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Sywell Aviation Ltd. is a company registered in England with company no. 03180760 & VAT no. 623 8222 56.
Registered offices: Hall Farm, Sywell, Northampton, NN6 0BT.

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The de Havilland Vampire

The Vampire was Britain's second production jet fighter, first flown in September 1943. The first production examples did not reach the RAF until April 1945 and were too late to see combat.

Vampire prototype

After the war the Vampire continued to be developed through various versions and stayed in front line service until 1955, and set numerous records and 'firsts' including the first crossing of the Atlantic by a jet aircraft and the first jet carrier landing.

Vampire trainer advert

In 1950 the ultimate trainer version of the Vampire, the T.11, was introduced and continued in service until 1966. Over 600 of this model were produced, with a total production run of all variants in the region of 4,400.

While many Vampires have survived in preservation, just one ex-RAF T.11 remains in flying condition in the UK to complement the various static examples in museums.