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de Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen FAW.2

Aircraft Overview:

Designed and built at Hatfield, the DH110 land-based two-seat, twin-engine all-weather fighter of 1951 was later adapted as the carrier-based Sea Vixen, the last and most advanced of the de Havilland fighters.

The DH110 took the Vampire/Venom twin-boom layout into the era of swept wings and transonic flight with all-metal construction, powered flight controls, and twin engines of higher-performing axial-flow type. It became the first two-seat aircraft to exceed the speed of sound, in a shallow dive.

The pilot’s position and canopy are offset to port, and the observer is seated to starboard, lower down in a darkened cockpit (known to Fleet Air Arm crews as the ‘coal hole’) for ease of viewing the attack radar.

The fully navalised FAW (Fighter All Weather) Mk.1 entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1957 and incorporated power folding wings, a stronger long-stroke landing gear, a steerable nose wheel, underwing catapult horns and an arrester hook. The FAW. Mk.2 of 1962 introduced GEC AI Mk. 18 radar, new electronics, and was armed with the DH Red Top missile. Increased fuel and avionics for the Red Top missiles were carried in enlarged tail booms extended forward of the wings.

Other features include ejector seats allowing underwater ejection, a large in-flight refuelling probe, and a ventral airbrake with perforated strakes.

A total of 29 Mk.2s were built, and a further 67 were converted from Mk.1s.

Aircraft Specifications:

Power Unit: Two 10,000 lb.s.t Rolls Royce Avon 208

Wing Span: 51 ft (15.54 m)

All-Up Weight (A.U.W): 37,000 lb (16,732 kg)

Max. Speed: 640 mph (1,030 kph) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m)

Ceiling: 48,000 ft (14,630 m)

Range: 1,800 miles (2,900 km)

On Display at the Museum:

The Museum’s Sea Vixen was built as a Mk.1 at Christchurch in 1960 and converted to a Mk.2 at Chester in 1965. It was acquired by the Museum in 1976.