Aircraft of the Month
DE HAVILLAND VENOM
The de Havilland DH112 Venom was a single-engined fighter-bomber and two seat night fighter developed from the Vampire in the immediate post-war years. The prototype took to the air on 2nd September 1949 and the first variant, the fighter-bomber, entered RAF service as the FB1 in 1952. Powered by a de Havilland Ghost 48 centrifugal flow engine generating 4,850lb thrust, the Venom FB1 was armed with 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon and capable of carrying 2 x 1,000lb bombs or 8 x 3in rocket projectiles. A second fighter-bomber variant powered by a Ghost 105 delivering 5,150lb thrust and fitted with an ejection seat, the FB4, entered service in 1955.
The Venom fighter-bomber saw operational service with 45 and 60 Squadrons RAF and 14 Squadron RNZAF during the Malayan Emergency of 1948-60 and during the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya during the mid to late 1950s. The machine also proved its worth during the Suez Crisis of 1956 when, operating with 6, 8 and 249 Squadrons from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, ground attack sorties were mounted against military formations and installations. Considerable action was also seen in the Middle East with 8 Squadron Venoms continually deployed against dissident tribesmen in the Aden hinterland and, at a particularly crucial time, in support of ground forces during the rebellion in Oman of the late 1950s.
The night fighter variants, the NF2/NF3, were in service from 1953 until replaced by the Javelin in 1957. These aircraft were equipped with AI radar and accommodated pilot and navigator/radar operator via side by side seating. Sea Venoms were also produced as a navalised all weather fighter version and some 90 aircraft, renamed the Aquilon, were built under licence by Sud Est for the French Aeronavale.
The Venom equipped no fewer than 26 RAF squadrons and was also operated by the air arms of 6 other countries. It was withdrawn from RAF service in 1962 but continued to fly with the Swiss Air Force until 1983. A total of 1,431 Venoms, Sea Venoms and Aquilons were built. A significant number survive in aviation museums throughout the world and several remain airworthy.