by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Originally published on:
I always like to gauge any monograph on any subject by looking at the Acknowledgements first and in this book there are many. It shows that the author has gone that extra yard researching this book. There are many images backing up the text. All are black and white and of good quality. Some of the images have never been published before. This paperback is a reprint from the hardback edition first printed in 2013.
There are fifty one chapters; just over half of them concentrate on the various Air Forces that flew the Vampire. Most of the other chapters take a look at the development of the airframe, its power plants and the role the Vampire played in the various services it flew with. The appendices cover the Vampires performance details, RAF Vampire serial allocations, RAF Vampire Squadrons, and preserved airframes.
Naturally the Vampire gained many firsts, being the second jet in RAF and the first in FAA service. Although it quickly became apparent that the Vampire was no fast interceptor like the Meteor, its airframe and flight characteristics made it suitable for many roles. The roles included deck operations [with or without an undercarriage], as a fighter bomber, a night fighter, and as a trainer. The author provides plenty of fascinating technical information of the design and development of the Vampire. The Sea Vampire was also involved with the development of the Deck landing Mirror System. The use of the two engines: the Goblin and the Nene is an interesting facet of the development. The Vampire was built around the Goblin built by de Havilland. The desire for more power meant that the more powerful Nene engines were used. The Nene demanded a huge amount of air to achieve the best performance. The existing air inlets were insufficient to feed the Nene so its interesting reading the accounts on the efforts to try to resolve the problem by de Havilland and the various companies that license built the Vampire. Some solutions were better than others. The author also looks at the delta winged Vampire the DH 108. There are also lots of personal views from designers to the pilots punctuated through the text. This makes the book an easy one to read.
The chapter titled ‘From the Cockpit’ is a selection of stories from pilot experiences of flying the Vampire, some for the first time. One account of an ex Sunderland Captain who on his first solo flight in a Vampire barrel rolled around a USAF C-124 Globemaster is a remarkable testament to the aircraft. There is even a segment on Vampire pilots close encounters with flying saucers.
The author takes an in detailed look at the Vampires role with the RAF and FAA. The Vampire became the must have combat aircraft for many Air Forces keeping the order book full for de Havilland. Many Vampires were passed on from one Air Force to another, for a small fee of course. The Author describes the role of the Vampire serving with all the Air Forces it flew for. With some Air Forces the Vampire was a token acquisition that has barely flown. Other Air Forces used the Vampire as a leg up to developing their own jet aircraft industries. There was also the challenge of adapting the plywood in the airframe to the warmer climes around the world
The many black and white photographs cover the Vampire development and worldwide service.
248 x 172 mm Soft back
316 black-and-white photographs
This is a excellent monograph by David Watkins. Not only is it a very informative read, its also includes a huge number of images. This will make a great single reference book on the Vampire.