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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Heller de Havilland FB.5 Vampire

A Heller 1/72 scale kit of a de Havilland FB.5 Vampire. This is the first Heller kit to feature in this blog although I must confess I am an admirer of the Heller box top art.

The aircraft depicted on the box served with 112 Squadron Royal Air Force.

An example of this kit is currently for sale on Ebay here.

The DH100 Vampire was commissioned by the RAF during World War II and became the second jet fighter to enter their service following the pioneering Gloster Meteor. The maiden flight of the prototype aircraft took off from Hatfield on 20th September 1943 and the first production model flew in April 1945.

The Vampire did not see service during the war but continued to serve in front line RAF combat roles until 1955, and as a trainer until 1966.

The Vampire was a very successful aircraft both in the UK and with many overseas air forces (see below) and a total of 3268 were eventually built. Of this total approximately 25% were constructed outside the UK under licence.

Many different variants were produced including night fighters and naval aircraft for service on carriers. In fact, on 4th December 1945 a Sea Vampire became the first jet aircraft to land and take off from an aircraft carrier (HMS Ocean).

The Vampire was also the first RAF fighter aircraft to have a top speed in excess of 500 mph.

In 1948, the aircraft set a new world altitude record of 59,446 ft and during the same year six Vampire F3s of 54 Squadron RAF became the first jet aircraft to fly across the North Atlantic.

The Vampire was mainly used by the RAF in a ground-attack fighter-bomber role and the FB.5 variant's maiden flight was on 23rd June 1948. The FB 5 could carry a a 500 lb bomb under each wing as well as eight three inch rocket projectiles.

At it's peak 19 RAF squadrons flew the FB 5 and it was used in combat operations during the Malayan Emergency in the late 1940's/early 1950's.

Overseas air forces operating the Vampire included Austria, the RAAF and RAN, Burma, Ceylon, the RCAF, Chile, Egypt, Finland, France, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Lebanon, the RNZAF, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, Syria and Venezuela.

Four Vampires of 45 Squadron the Indian Air Force were in action on 1st September 1965 during the Indo-Pakistan war. Returning from a ground attack mission against Pakistani army units, the Vampires encountered two F-86 Sabres of the Pakistan Air Force. The Sabres were armed with air to air missiles and in the ensuing dog fight three Vampires were shot down and the last of the four was destroyed by ground fire. Following this set back the Vampire was withdrawn from front line service by the IAF.

The last air force to use Vampires was the Rhodesian Air Force. They operated the aircraft for almost thirty years, finally withdrawing them in 1979 following the end of the civil war.

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to leave a comment. They are always welcome!

Other posts you may enjoy.....

Matchbox North American F-86 A/5 Sabre

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