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Developed by de Havilland and first flying in 1943, the Vampire was the second jet fighter to be operated by the RAF. Predominantly made of wood, the twin-boom design proved to be highly effective with good acceleration and high manoeuvrability whilst being relatively low cost. The Vampire entered service in 1946 with RAF as an interceptor and was eventually retired in 1966 after also serving in the ground attack and training roles. Powered by a single Goblin turbojet engine, the Vampire became a record winner, most notably becoming the first jet aircraft to cross the Atlantic and, at the hands of legendary pilot Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown became the first pure jet aircraft to land and take off from an aircraft carrier.
The Vampire was chosen to enter Italian Air Force service over the more expensive Gloster Meteor and during October 1949 an agreement was signed for the Vampire to be licence built by Fiat who built 150 aircraft in total. During the aircrafts service life with the Italian Air Force various variants were acquired ranging from trainers to night fighters however the most numerous version was the FB.52 fighter bomber. At their peak, the Italian Vampire fleet stood at 220 aircraft. In addition, the first post-war aerial display team of the Italian Air Force called Cavallino Rampante also flew the Vampire.
The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron will be providing their airworthy Vampire FB.52 for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. Usually displayed in the markings of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the aircraft will be appearing this year in the markings of the Italian Air Force and will forming part of our special static display celebrating their centenary.
Photo Credit: Kev Storer