Sky Guardians SGE7200301 Royal Navy de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 Fighter - No. 899 Squadron, HMS Eagle (1:72 Scale)
"Some ships are designed to sink, others require our assistance."
- Nathan Zelk, former RM2(SS) USS Montpelier (SSN 765) August 1993 - October 1997
The de Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen was a twin boom 1950s-1960s British two-seat jet fighter of the Fleet Air Arm (the air component of the Royal Navy) designed by de Havilland. Developed from an earlier first generation jet fighter, the Sea Vixen was a capable carrier-based fleet defense fighter that served into the 1970s. Initially produced by de Havilland it was later known as the Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen when de Havilland became a part of the Hawker Siddeley group.
The aircraft was originally known as the DH.110; a twin-engined all-weather fighter, development of which started in 1946 following discussions with the Admiralty of its requirements for jet all-weather fighters. De Havilland's design shared the twin-boom layout of the de Havilland Vampire, had an all-metal structure and featured swept wings. It was to be powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon engines, each capable of 7,500lb of thrust, which would allow the aircraft to be supersonic in a shallow dive. Armament was to be four 30 mm ADEN cannons. In January 1947, specifications N.40/46 and F.44/46 were issued by the British Air Ministry for similar night-fighters to equip the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and Royal Air Force (RAF), with nine prototypes being ordered for the RAF (together with four of the competing Gloster Javelin) and four prototypes for the Fleet Air Arm. In 1949, however, the Royal Navy decided to buy the de Havilland Sea Venom, which as a development of an existing type was cheaper and available quickly to meet its immediate needs for a jet-powered night fighter to replace its piston-engined de Havilland Sea Hornets, while the RAF cut its order back to two prototypes. Despite this, de Havilland continued with the project.
The prototype took to the skies on September 26th, 1951, piloted by John Cunningham; the aircraft's performance exceeded expectations, and by the following year it was regularly flying faster than the speed of sound. However, tragedy struck while the aircraft was being demonstrated at the Farnborough Airshow on 6 September 1952. Following a demonstration of its ability to break the sound barrier, the aircraft disintegrated, killing 31 people, including the crew of two: test pilot and record breaker John Derry and Tony Richards. The failure was traced to faulty design of the end sections of the main spar, which resulted in the outer ends of the wings shearing off during a high-rate turn. The subsequent shift in the DH.110's centre of gravity caused the aircraft to lurch violently, creating forces of over 12 g, resulting in the cockpit and tail sections breaking away and the engines being torn from the airframe. One of the engines impacted in an area crowded with spectators at the end of the runway, causing the majority of casualties. Other spectators were injured by debris from the cockpit impacting close to the main spectator enclosures alongside the runway. This incident led to a major restructuring of the safety regulations for air shows in the UK, and since this accident, no member of the public has died as a result of an airshow accident in the UK.
Owing to this incident, modifications were made to the second prototype, including the fitting of an all-moving tailplane, the modified aircraft not flying again until July 1954. By this time, the RAF had abandoned its interest in the DH.110, choosing instead the Javelin, but the Fleet Air Arm decided to adopt the DH.110 to replace its interim Sea Venoms. The Sea Vixen became the definitive aircraft to dispense with guns, being armed with de Havilland Firestreak air-to-air missiles as apart of an integrated weapon system. In 1955, a semi-navalised variant was produced as a prototype for the production version, including changes of the leading edge profile and strengthening of the wings, making its first flight that same year. The following year, the aircraft made its first arrested deck landing on the fleet aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. The first true Sea Vixen, the Sea Vixen FAW.20 (fighter all-weather, later redesignated FAW.1), first flew on March 20th, 1957; and on July 2nd, 1959, the first Sea Vixen equipped squadron formed.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Royal Navy de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 Fighter which served with No. 899 Squadron, then embarked upon the HMS Eagle.
Wingspan: 8-3/4 inches
Length: 7-1/2 inches
Release Date: March 2012