de Havilland Venom

The de Havilland DH 112 Venom was a British postwar single-engined jet aircraft developed from the de Havilland Vampire. It served with the Royal Air Force as a single-seat fighter-bomber and two-seat night fighter. The Venom was an interim between the first generation of British jet fighters – straight-wing aircraft powered by centrifugal flow engines such as the Gloster Meteor and the Vampire and later swept wing, axial flow-engined designs such as the Hawker Hunter and de Havilland Sea Vixen. The Venom was successfully exported, and saw service with Iraq, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela.

The Sea Venom was a navalised version for carrier operation.

de Havilland Venom
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1949
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Sweden View
Switzerland View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1952 1983 View
Venezuela View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited 1431 View

The Venom's lineage lay in the aircraft it was intended to replace, the Vampire, which had been the second jet aircraft to enter service with the RAF. In 1948, de Havilland proposed a development of the Vampire with a thin wing and more powerful engine as a high altitude fighter, the Vampire FB 8. In most respects, the Venom was quite similar to the Vampire, sharing the distinctive twin-boom tail and composite wood/metal structure, although the Venom differed in parts. The idea was adopted and a Vampire F 1 was converted by fitting the new de Havilland Ghost engine, which was more powerful than the de Havilland Goblin used on the Vampire. As the DH 112, the Venom filled an Air Ministry requirement for a fast, manoeuvrable and capable fighter-bomber to replace its progenitor.

The first Venom prototype flew on 2 September 1949, and the first Venom variant, a single-seat fighter-bomber, entered service in 1952 as the FB 1. A total of 375 of these would be built. It was armed with four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V autocannons in the nose and could carry either two 1,000 lb (approx 450 kg) bombs or eight RP-3 60 lb (27 kg) air-to-ground rocket projectiles – the heavier bombs being an improvement over the Vampire FB 5. It was powered by a single 4,850 lbf (21.6 kN) thrust Ghost 48 Mk.1 engine.

The next Venom, the NF.2 night fighter, first flew on 22 August 1950 and entered service in 1953, having been delayed after some minor problems with the type. To accommodate the necessary two man crew (pilot and navigator/radar operator) it was structurally different – the two crew were positioned side-by-side and an airborne interception radar was fitted in the nose. It replaced the Vampire NF 10, and was followed by NF 3, which was the last night fighter variant of the Venom, first flying in 1953 and entering service in 1955. The night fighter Venoms had a relatively brief career with the Royal Air Force, having been only an interim solution, and was withdrawn in 1957 and replaced by the Gloster Javelin twin-engined all-weather fighter.

The RAF fighter-bomber Venoms saw service during the Malayan Emergency which took place between 1948 and 1960, although they did not begin operations until the mid-1950s with Nos. 45 and 60 Squadrons RAF. While there, the Venom supported operations against Communist guerrillas as part of Operation Firedog, the codename for Royal Air Force operations in Malaya. Venoms were lent to the Royal New Zealand Air Force for use in the same conflict where they operated with No. 14 Squadron RNZAF.

The Venom also saw service during the Suez Crisis being operated by Nos. 6, 8 and 249 Squadrons RAF flying from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. The Anglo-French invasion, codenamed Operation Musketeer, took place in response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Egypt's leader, General Nasser. The air war began on 31 October 1956 signalling the beginning of the Suez War. The Venoms launched a number of sorties, attacking a variety of military installations on the ground. They also saw much action in the Middle East, supporting operations against terrorists in Aden and Oman, losing some aircraft in the process. Venoms additionally saw service during the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya.

All Venoms in RAF service were withdrawn from first-line service in 1962, having proven their worth in a variety of locations across the world, in peace and war, and in some of the most difficult climates the RAF has ever faced. The last non-RAF Venoms to leave active service were Swiss Air Force Venoms which retired in 1983. About 20 Venoms continue to fly as of 2004, performing at various air shows, while a number of examples are preserved in museums in the United Kingdom and abroad, in non-flying, static display condition.

Role Fighter-bomber
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Company
First flight 2 September 1949
Introduction 1952
Retired 1983 Swiss Air Force
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Swedish Air Force
Swiss Air Force
Venezuelan Air Force
Number built 1,431 (including Sea Venom/Aquilon)
Variants de Havilland Sea Venom/Aquilon

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 31 ft 10 in (9.70 m)
  • Wingspan: 41 ft 8 in (12.70 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
  • Wing area: 279 ft² (25.9 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,202 lb (4,173 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 15,400 lb (7,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × de Havilland Ghost 103 turbojet, 4,850 lbf (21.6 kN)


  • Maximum speed: 640 mph (556 kn, 1,030 km/h)
  • Range: 1,080 mi (934 nmi, 1,730 km)
  • Service ceiling: 39,400 ft (12,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 9,000 ft/min (45.7 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 56.17 lb/ft² (274.2 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.41


  • Guns: 4× 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk.V cannon, with 600 rounds total (150 rpg).
  • Rockets: 8× RP-3 "60 lb" (27 kg) rockets, or;
  • Bombs: 2× 1000 lb MC bombs

End notes