The De Havilland Vampire’s prototype, nicknamed the “Spider-crab,” became the third British jet to fly on 20 September, 1940. In 1948, the RCAF had to choose between the Vampire and another jet, the Gloster Meteor, with which to equip the force’s squadrons. The Vampire was chosen, and 85 of the Mark III variety were ordered. Planes from this first production run, 85 jets, were primarily assigned to auxiliary squadrons, including 442 “City of Vancouver” Auxiliary Fighter Squadron, stationed on Sea Island. The Museum’s Vampire, tail number 17031, was of this first run, and was taken on strength on 10 April 1948. It joined three other Vampires and nine Harvard’s, that were stationed with 442 (Aux) on Sea Island. The squadron often used the Vampires in local air shows, as well as at summer camps at regular force Bases around Western Canada. By 31 March 1950, the Vampires had been moved back east, where No. 17031 would serve with 402 “City of Winnipeg” Auxiliary Fighter Squadron. The Vampires, (including No. 17031), would rejoin 442 Squadron in September 1952, where they remained until 1956. By the early Fifties, it had been determined that the Vampires had been outstripped by newer jet aircraft, and by 1958, the Vampires were replaced by F-86 Sabres.
*No. 17031 was sold off and taken out of Canada. The privately-owned ex-RCAF DeHavilland Vampire Mark III, 17031, was taken onto the Public Account of the Comox Air Force Museum at 19 Wing Comox on 5 May 2000. The Vampire arrived in flying condition; however it was declared an artifact in February 2001 and has since been stored in a hangar, which regrettably precludes its viewing by the public. It was accompanied by a variety of pieces of ancillary equipment, including an artifact Goblin engine.
The Vampire is unique in that it has some wooden (plywood) elements in its structure. As such, unsheltered outdoor display would quickly damage it.
The Association has undertaken a project to create a modest structure to protectively display the Vampire in the 19 Wing Heritage Air Park.
Manufacturer: Built by De Havilland
Model No: DH-100
Marks: Mk I, III
Comox Squadron/Unit Use: 442 Squadron (from Sea Island)
Crew / Passengers: 1 (no ejection seat)
Power plant: one 3,100 lb. (1,405 kg) thrust de Havilland Goblin 2 Jet engine
Max Speed: 531 mph (855 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 43,500 ft. (13,260 m)
Range: 1,145 miles
Empty: 7,134 lb. (3,235 kg)
Gross: 11,970 lbs. (5,430 kg)
Span: 40 ft. 0 in (12.19m)
Length: 30 ft. 9 in (9.37m)
Height: 8 ft. 10 in (2.69 m)
Wing Area: 226 sq. ft. (20.99 sq. m)
Facts verified by Brian O’Cain-Aircraft Archivist, CAFM.