de Havilland Sea Vixen, Kemble 2009 ©Nigel Key
26 September 1951.
The prototype of the DH.110 Sea Vixen, first flew on the 26th of September 1951 piloted by John Cunningham.
The DH.100 was demonstrating at Farnborough airshow on the 6th of September 1952 when tragedy struck.
Whilst breaking the sound barrier the aircraft disintegrated with one of the engines hitting spectators at the end of the runway killing 31 people and crew, test pilot John Derry and Tony Richards.
The failure of the aircraft was found to be a failure of the end sections of the main spar which resulted in the outer ends of the wings shearing off causing the aircraft to lurch violently and break up.
Due to this incident modifications were made to the second prototype but the aircraft didn't fly again until July of 1954. The RAF had lost any interest of the DH.110 by then; however, the Fleet Air Arm adopted interest in the aircraft as a replacement for its Sea Venoms.
A navalised prototype was produced in 1955 making its first flight that year and made an carrier landing on HMS Ark Royal a year later.
The first Sea Vixen, designated FAW.20, first flew on the 20th of March 1957 and was later re-designated as FAW.1.
The Sea Vixen had a twin boom tail as used by the Sea Vampire and the Sea Venom. The pilotís canopy is off-set to the left hand side with the observer housed within the fuselage to the right with access through a flush top hatch.
The Sea Vixen became the first British aircraft that was not armed with machine guns or cannon but solely fitted with missiles, rockets and bombs.
The design of the Sea Vixen was improved to include an enlarged tail boom allowing for additional fuel tanks, improved escape system and more room for ECM and designated FAW.2
The FAW.2 was able to carry Firestreak missiles, Red Top AAM, four SNEB rocket pods and air-to-ground Bullpup missiles.
The FAW.2 was distinguishable from the FAW.1 by the tail booms which extend forward of the leading edge of the wing.
The De Havilland Sea Vixen was produced from 1957, with 145 built.
2 x Rolls Royce Avon 208ís, producing 22,500 lb st.
4 x Missiles Inboard
1,000 lb (454 kg) Bomb/Missile load
The Sea Vixen FAW.2 first flew in 1962 and served with frontline squadrons in 1964.
The Sea Vixen FAW.1 was phased out from 1966 and the FAW.2 was phased out in 1972. The Sea Vixen was replaced by the F-4 Phantom II.
|Crew - 2
|Length - 55ft 7in (17m)
|Wingspan - 50ft 0in (15.24m)
|Height - 10ft 9in (3.30m)
|Empty Weight - 22,000lb (9,979kg)
|Max. Weight - 36,000lb (16,329kg)
|Max. Speed - 650 mph (1,050 km/h)
|Range - 800 miles (1,280 km)