Fonthill Media / David Watkins /

By Ben Wheeler

THE FASCINATING history of one of Britain’s most iconic fighter jets has been told for the first time in a new book.

The de Havilland Vampire was developed during the Second World War and was the first single engine jet fighter to enter service in the RAF, making its maiden flight on 20th September 1943 before officially entering service in April 1946.

Fonthill Media / David Watkins /


The aircraft, which has lived several incarnations, holds a number of distinctions across its rich history including being the first jet aircraft to land and take-off from an aircraft carrier, whilst it was also the first jet to cross the Atlantic.

The book, titled History of the de Havilland Vampire, is written by author David Watkins and combines a series of stunning images of the aircraft with an amazingly detailed take on its production, features and service history.

Photos from the book show the Vampire, also known as the Sea Vampire, in its various forms and guises from being built in vast aircraft hangars to a group flying in formation along a coast.

Fonthill Media / David Watkins /


Other pictures depict one of the jets having been written off following a dawn strike against a jungle target in Singapore, whilst a group of RAF pilots can be seen posing for a photo opportunity in front of a fleet of the FB 5 model.

David revealed some more information about these amazing machines, giving readers a sneak peak of what to expect in the book.

“Few people thought when the Vampires came into service in 1946 that it would be another 43 years before the aircraft would finally be retired from active service,” he said.

Fonthill Media / David Watkins /


“They had a large range of uses over that period of time, first as an interceptor, then a ground attack fighter and later as a trainer jet for new recruits.

“Over the course of its lifetime, some 3,400 Vampires of all types were built in the UK and over a thousand manufactured under license across Europe.

“Although it was too late for them to see service in the Second World War, it saw action with air forces in Algeria, Burma, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Rhodesia and Venezuela.

Fonthill Media / David Watkins /