DE HAVILLAND DH 112 VENOM

DE HAVILLAND DH 112 VENOMDE HAVILLAND DH 112 VENOM

The de Havilland DH 112 Venom was a British postwar single-engined jet aircraft developed from the de Havilland Vampire. It served with the Royal Air Force as a single-seat fighter-bomber and two-seat night fighter. The Venom was an interim between the first generation of British jet fighters – straight-wing aircraft powered by centrifugal flow engines such as the Gloster Meteor and the Vampire and later swept wing, axial flow-engined designs such as the Hawker Hunter and de Havilland Sea Vixen. The Venom was successfully exported, and saw service with Iraq, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela.

The Sea Venom was a navalised version for carrier operation.

Design and development

The Venom’s lineage lay in the aircraft it was intended to replace, the Vampire, which had been the second jet aircraft to enter service with the RAF. In 1948, de Havilland proposed a development of the Vampire with a thin wing and more powerful engine as a high altitude fighter, the Vampire FB 8. In most respects, the Venom was quite similar to the Vampire, sharing the distinctive twin-boom tail and composite wood/metal structure, although the Venom differed in parts. The idea was adopted and a Vampire F 1 was converted by fitting the new de Havilland Ghost engine, which was more powerful than the de Havilland Goblin used on the Vampire. As the DH 112, the Venom filled an Air Ministry requirement for a fast, manoeuvrable and capable fighter-bomber to replace its progenitor.

The first Venom prototype flew on 2 September 1949, and the first Venom variant, a single-seat fighter-bomber, entered service in 1952 as the FB 1. A total of 375 of these would be built. It was armed with four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V autocannons in the nose and could carry either two 1,000 lb (approx 450 kg) bombs or eight RP-3 60 lb (27 kg) air-to-ground rocket projectiles – the heavier bombs being an improvement over the Vampire FB 5. It was powered by a single 4,850 lbf (21.6 kN) thrust Ghost 48 Mk.1 engine.

The next Venom, the NF.2 night fighter, first flew on 22 August 1950 and entered service in 1953, having been delayed after some minor problems with the type. To accommodate the necessary two man crew (pilot and navigator/radar operator) it was structurally different – the two crew were positioned side-by-side and an airborne interception radar was fitted in the nose. It replaced the Vampire NF 10, and was followed by NF 3, which was the last night fighter variant of the Venom, first flying in 1953 and entering service in 1955. The night fighter Venoms had a relatively brief career with the Royal Air Force, having been only an interim solution, and was withdrawn in 1957 and replaced by the Gloster Javelin twin-engined all-weather fighter.
The final Venom for the RAF was the single-seat FB.4 which first flew on 29 December 1953. It entered service in 1955 and 250 were built. It was powered by a single 5,150 lbf (22.9 kN) thrust de Havilland Ghost 105 turbojet engine. It also received an ejector seat and some modifications to its structure.

Main production of the Venom was by de Havilland, augmented by numbers of FB.1, FB.4 and FB.51 built by Fairey Aviation at Manchester (Ringway) Airport