August 2016

De Havilland Sea Vampire F.20

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De Havilland Sea Vampire F.20

RAE Farnborough / HMS WARRIOR 1947

FROG 1/72 with scratch conversion

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Background Image: Vampire, Attacker and Buccaneers at the Fleet Air Arm Museum

Have a look at my RN Jets Pages for the rest of my Vampire “coven”

I had the great pleasure of encountering Captain Brown in 2014 at the naming ceremony for the new RN Aircraft Carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH; he was a remarkably sprightly and independent figure, even at the age of 95.  

Earlier this year, at the February Fleet Air Arm show, our table was placed in front of a newly revealed bust of Captain Brown, placed alongside the museum’s Grumman Martlet, one of the many aircraft types the flew during an astonishing life.  Sadly, we learned the following week that he had passed away.


On 21st July 2016, a commemorative flypast and ground display of more than 50 types flown by Captain Brown took place at RNAS Yeovilton, to celebrate the life of the Royal Navy’s greatest pilot.

Captain Eric Melrose ‘Winkle’ Brown CBE DSC AFC FRAeS Royal Navy

(21 January 1919 – 21 February 2016)

Almost all of the RN and RAF types represented in my website were flown at one time by Eric Brown, but one of the more outlandish concepts that Brown was asked to test was the use of a rubber flexible deck to enable carrier landings of aircraft without the need for an undercarriage.


Despite a number of serious crashes, he proved the concept to be feasible, but the difficulties of subsequent deck handling and movements, plus the rapid improvement in aircraft performance and range made the flexible deck superfluous.    

For this month, as a tribute to Captain Brown, I have converted an old FROG Vampire to represent one of the Sea Vampire F.20 aircraft that Brown used during these trials.  

February of this year saw the death at the age of 97 of Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown RN, undoubtedly one of the most accomplished aviators in history.  

Born in Leith, Scotland, Captain Brown’s life story reads like something from the pages of a novel, including air combat at sea and over Europe, being torpedoed at sea, helping to liberate the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp and interrogating many key Nazi figures at the Nurenburg War trials, not to mention his amazing exploits as a test pilot.  

Some of his personal achievements and records as a test pilot, including the greatest number of aircraft carrier deck landings (4,678) and having flown more aircraft types than anyone else in the world (487), are unlikely ever to be equalled or beaten.  He was the first person to land a twin engined aircraft on a Carrier (a Mosquito) and the first to land a Jet aircraft (a Sea Vampire).

© Crown Copyright IWM (A31015)

The FROG kit is a reasonable representation of the Vampire.  In comparison with the Heller/Airfix/Revell model that I used for my other single seat Vampires, its only real problem is the lack of jet intake vanes, although aligning the tail booms can be tricky and the undercarriage is not the most detailed example around - ideal for an in-flight depiction!  

To convert it to a Sea Vampire, I have added a tail hook along with its distinctive fairing – both cut from scrap plastic.  

I have also raised the air brakes and lowered the (slightly bigger than normal) flaps to represent the aircraft in wheels up landing configuration as it approached the wire and the rubber deck.

© Crown Copyright IWM (A32850)

The aircraft in which Brown made the first ever carrier landing by a jet aicraft is preserved at the Fleet Air Arm Museum