Canadian Warplanes 6: Jets, de Havilland DH.100 Vampire

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF

(DND Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire Mk. III, RCAF (Serial No. 17078), No. 438 (Fighter) "City of Montreal" Squadron (Auxiliary), Montreal, Quebec.

The de Havilland Vampire is a British jet fighter developed and manufactured by the de Havilland Aircraft Company.  It had the distinction of being the second jet fighter to be operated by the RAF, after the Gloster Meteor, and the first to be powered by a single jet engine.

In 1946, a single Vampire F.1 began operating on an evaluation basis in Canada at the Winter Experimental Establishment in Edmonton, Alberta.  The Vampire F.3 was selected as one of two types of operational fighters for the RCAF and was first flown in Canada on 17 January 1948 where it went into service as a Central Flying School training aircraft at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario.  Operating a total of 86 aircraft, the Vampire F.3 became the first jet fighter to enter RCAF service in any significant numbers.

The Vampire had the function of introducing Canadian fighter pilots not only to jet propulsion, but also to other amenities such as cockpit pressurisation and the tricycle landing gear arrangement.  It proved to be a popular aircraft, being easy to fly and regarded by some pilots as "hot rod."   In Canadian service, the Vampire served in both operational and air reserve units (400, 401, 402, 411, 438 and 442 squadrons).  During the late 1950s, the type was retired and was replaced in RCAF service by the Canadair CL-13 Sabre.  (Wikipedia)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire Mk. I (1), (Serial No. TG372), Mk. III (85), (Serial Nos. 17001-17042, 17044-17086), for a total of 86 aircraft.

(DND Photo via James Craik)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17067), No. 411 "County of York" Squadron (Auxiliary), Toronto, Ontario.

(DND Photo via James Craik)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial Nos. 17067, 17019 and 17007).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643761)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17007), RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, 20 Dec 1950.  Operated by the Winter Experimental Establishment in 1948, coded FB-R.  With No. 410 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station St. Hubert, PQ in 1949, when it carried special markings as part of the Blue Devils display team.  With No. 411 Squadron, Downsview, Ontario, 1951 to 1955.  Also with Central Experimental and Proving Establishment, dates not known.

(RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17018).  With No. 401 Squadron and No. 402 Squadron at RCAF Station St. Hubert, Quebec, 1948 to 1957.

(RCAF Photo via Kevin Anderson)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17012), coded GJ-N, No. 1 (F) Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Chatham, New Brunswick.  Also with No. 442 Squadron (Auxiliary) at RCAF Station Sea Island, British Columbia.

(DND Photo via James Craik)

(DND Photo via James Craik)

(DND Photo via James Craik)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RAF (Serial No. VZ278), loaned to RCAF No. 421 Squadron for transition training in the UK, ca 1948.

(DND Photo via James Craik)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RAF (Serial No. VZ339), (Serial No. VZ261), (Serial No. VZ343), and (Serial No. VZ264), loaned to RCAF No. 421 Squadron for transition training at RAF Odingham in the UK, c1948.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584168)

de Havilland DH,100 Vampire, 11 Dec 1948.

(DND Photo)

Three de Havilland DH.100 Vampire Mk. IIIs in formation, from No. 410 Squadron, St. Hubert, Quebec, ca Dec 1948.  From May 1949 to August 1951, the Blue Devils aerobatics team formed, to demonstrate the abilities of the then new Vampire aircraft at formation flying. (DND Photo).

The four demo pilots were F/Ls Joe Schultz, Don Laubman, Omer Levesque and F/O Mike Doyle.  F/L Laubman would rise to the rank of Lt. Gen, and F/L Levesque, who was the first to down a Focke-Wulf FW 190 in the Second World War, would achieve another distinction as the first RCAF pilot to down a Mig-15 in Korea while on exchange with the USAF.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584696)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, coded FB-11, 14 Aug 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584697)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, coded FB-11, 14 Aug 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584697)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (Serial No. 17042), coded FB-U, 14 Aug 1952.   With No. 411 (Aux) Squadron, RCAF Station Downsview, Ontario, early/mid 1950s.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584724)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (Serial No. 17042), coded FB-U, runway overshoot, 25 Sep 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584725)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (Serial No. 17042), coded FB-U, runway overshoot, 25 Sep 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584138)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (Serial 17007), RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, ca. 1948.

(RCAF Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (Serial No. 17021), RCAF Station Chatham.  With No. 438 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station St. Hubert, PQ.

(RCAF Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (Serial No. 17057).  Operated by No. 411 (Aux) Squadron or No. 400 (Aux) Squadron, RCAF Station Downsview, Ontario, in early/mid 1950s.

(DND Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire Mk. III, RCAF (Serial Nos. 17067, 065, 078, 002).

(DND Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17074), No. 442 (Fighter) "City of Vancouver" Squadron (Auxiliary), Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia.

(DND Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17074), No. 442 (Fighter) "City of Vancouver" Squadron (Auxiliary), Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia.

(DND Photo via Mike Kaehler)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III (Serial No. 17076), coded BU-W, in RCAF service.  With No. 410 (F)Squadron, RCAF Station St. Hubert, PQ, 1948 to 1951.  Flew with this unit's Blue Devils display team in 1949.With No. 411 (Aux) Squadron, RCAF Station Downsview Ontario.  Forced landed on road short of Downsview runway by F/O P. Hayes, on 12 April 1954.  Little damage, Category B.  With No. 442 Squadron, Sea Island, BC, to c.1955.,

(DND Photo via Mike Kaehler)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III (Serial No. 17074) No. 442 (Fighter) "City of Vancouver" Squadron (Auxiliary), Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584139)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire cockpit.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584140)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire cockpit.

(RCAF Photo)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17021), coded GO.  With No. 438 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station St. Hubert, Quebec.

de Havilland DH.100 Vampires preserved in Canada.

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17031), N41J, 442 Squadron.  CFB Comox Air Force Museum, 19 Wing, British Columbia.

(CAFM Photo, Rowe Collection)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, RCAF (Serial No. 17031), No. 442 Squadron, under a USAF Douglas C-124 Globemaster, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1953.

(Author Photos)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III, RCAF (Serial No. 17058), VP747, c/n EEP42376, built in 1949,  Reg. No. N6860D.  This aircraft was flown by No. 421 Squadron, RCAF and No. 400 Squadron, RCAF.  It came to the CMF in 1983, and is painted to represent RCAF (Serial No. 17012) of No. 442 (Auxiliary) Squadron.  Canadian Museum of Flight, Langley Regional Airport, British Columbia.

(Author Photo)

(Author Photo)

(Daniel Photo)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire F Mk. III, RCAF (Serial No. 17069), ex 6877D, parts.  Calgary, The Hangar Flight Museum, 4629 McCall Way NE, Calgary, Alberta.

(Author Photo)

de Havilland Australia DH.100 Vampire Mk. T.35, (Serial No. 4179), RAAF A79-675, N11933.  Privately owned pending sale.  Edmonton, Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton Aviation Heritage Centre, 11410 Kingsway NW Edmonton, Alberta.

(Author Photo)

(Author Photo)

(Aldo Bidini Photo)

de Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.6 (Serial No. 21275), coded AA-P.  Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario.

The CWH Museum’s de Havilland Vampire FB.6 was built under licence in 1960, by the Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory and was one of the last Vampires ever built.  It was acquired from the Swiss Air Force, when it was retired in 1995. The aircraft displays the markings of a Vampire Mk. 3, which flew with RCAF No. 400 "City of Toronto" (Auxiliary) Squadron, based at Downsview in the 1950s.

(Author Photo)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III RCAF (Serial No. 17074).  Canada Air and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.  17074 flew with No. 442 (Fighter) "City of Vancouver" Squadron (Auxiliary), Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224409)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III, RAF (Serial No. VT869), coded A, No. 54 Squadron, RAF, taking part in the first transatlantic flight by jet aircraft, 15 July 1948.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224405)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III, RAF (Serial No. VT863), coded O, No. 54 Squadron, RAF, taking part in the first transatlantic flight by jet aircraft, 15 July 1948.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224400)

de Havilland DH 100 Vampire Mk. III, RAF (Serial No. VT868), No. 54 Squadron, RAF, taking part in the first transatlantic flight by jet aircraft, 15 July 1948.

First transatlantic flight by jet aircraft, Chris Charland, Associate Royal Canadian Air Force Historian

It started out as a simple letter sent by the United States Air Force to the Royal Air Force's Chief of the Air Staff. The Americans were inquiring about the possibility of the R.A.F. sending a jet fighter squadron for the annual goodwill visit to the United States. The straightforward request began to to raise a number of logistical and financial concerns. The original idea was to transport the aircraft to a dock in England, then ship by sea to the United States, where they would be then reassembled prior to going on tour. Instead, the more challenging decision to fly the aircraft across the Atlantic was made.

As a means of deciding which squadron would make the tour, an aerobatic team competition was held between the three de Havilland Vampire F.1 equipped squadrons (No.'s 54, 72 and 247) that made up the fighter wing at R.A.F. Station Odiham, Hampshire. No. 54 (F) Squadron's team commanded by Squadron Leader R. W. 'Bobby' Oxspring D.F.C. and two Bars, were the triumphant victors. They received six brand new and more capable Vampire F.3's to be used for the epic adventure. The support aircraft would be three de Havilland Mosquitos. The aircraft known as the 'Wooden Wonder', would accompany the Vampires, providing navigational aid and weather reports. Three Avro Yorks from Transport Command were to carry the ground crew and spare parts needed to ensure the Vampires remained serviceable.

The Vampires departed on the 1st of July 1948, The routing would take them to Stornoway Scotland; Keflavik, Iceland; Bluie West 1, Greenland and finally to Goose Bay. Due to periods of terrible weather along the route, the Vampires did not get to Goose until the 14th of July. They left for their Canadian part of the trip on the 16th. The highly successful American tour started on the 25th. The Vampires and support aircraft arrived back to Goose by way of R.C.A.F. Station Trenton, Ontario and departed back across the unforgiving North Atlantic on the 17th of August. The Vampire pilots took their time getting back to Odiham, with stops along the way for a few days at a time.

The trip to North America was a world record setter. The British had beaten the Americans who were flying Lockheed F-80's for the bragging rights of the first jet crossing across the Atlantic.

It must be noted that the personnel of R.C.A.F. Station Goose Bay and members of the Department of Transport, played an important role in support of this record-breaking flight.


(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224406)

de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito PR Mk. 34 (Serial No. PF623) providing navigational support for the first transatlantic jet flight by a de Havilland DH.100 Vampire aircraft of No. 54 Squadron, RAF, 15 July 1948.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224396)

The Vampires were escorted by three Avro York aircraft of No. 24 Squadron, RAF, supporting the first transatlantic jet flight by aircraft of No.54 Squadron, RAF, July 1948.