May 2024 Part 1

DeHavilland Vampire FB Mk.5

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DeHavilland Vampire FB.Mk.5

502 (Ulster) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force

RAF Aldergrove, 1956

FROG 1/72

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The DH100 Vampire first flew during WW2 and was widely used by the RAF as a ground attack aircraft alongside Meteor interceptors.  Powered by the DH Goblin jet , its  twin tail boom configuration ensured that all of the limited power available from this early engine could be used.  Adopted in large numbers by the RAF to replace piston engined fighters, the Vampire set several records, becoming he first jet aircraft type to cross the Atlantic and the first jet aircraft to land on a carrier and take off again (in its Sea Vampire form).  Nearly 3.300 were built, including licence built derivatives in  Switzerland, France, Australia and Italy.

The FB.5 variant was fully optimised for ground attack with over 900 built for the RAF alone. Although 2-seat trainer variants remained in use well into the 1960s, after their withdrawal from RAF front-line use in the early 1950s, Vampire fighter bombers remained in service with RAuxAF Squadrons until the end of the 1950s.   Vampires served with over 30 nations and saw extensive combat in Malaya, Kenya, The Dominican Republic, Egypt, India and finally Rhodesia, who operated the type right up until 1979 .

Link to many more RAF aircraft on my Friends & Allies pages

Building the FROG Vampire Kit:

After last month’s completion of my P-8A “large” project, this month I have gone for something easier and less challenging.  The FROG Vampire kit is definitely an old friend to me, with this being my 4th build, the first dating well back to the early 1970s.   In fact, the kit was first released in 1971, with its last release by FROG in 1976 when that company ceased to exist.  Several eastern block manufacturers have reissued it since then, but it is not currently available as far as I can see, although there are still plenty of older FROG kits available second hand.    

It’s a very simple kit, yet its overall appearance when complete still compares well with e.g. the Heller kit, which is much more sophisticated and has many more parts.  The FROG has no real cockpit to speak of, and the decision not to include the rear part of the canopy in the transparency (it’s moulded into the fuselage top) does detract from the kit.  The undercarriage is also very crude, with 18inch scale thick doors and very basic main wheels (that should turn if you assemble them correctly!).   

The only major difficulty in assembly is aligning the two booms;  for my last build in 2016, I managed this without problem, but for this one it was back as I remembered from my youth, with sagging booms, twisted tails and gluey fingers!  Filler will definitely be needed, not least on the wing joins and behind the canopy.  Decals are colourful, depicting a RAuxAF machine of 502 Sqn, based in Northern Ireland and a Swedish Air Force FB.50 from Soderhamn Air Base near the Swedish Coast.  Unfortunately, mine started to disintegrate and crumple as I attached them, the first time I have had this happen with FROG transfers.  I guess that 45 years+ after they were produced, this should come as no surprise.  Spares came from various other Vampire kits.

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My “coven” of previous Vampire/Sea Vampire builds:

May 2024 - part 2

Link to Part 2 (Gloster Meteor) >>

May 2024 - part 2