Aircraft Type
Military Aircraft


First flown in September 1943, the de Havilland Vampire was the first jet fighter to enter service with the Royal Air Force just after the Second World War. It is of all-metal construction except for the forward portion of the fuselage housing the pilot's pressurized cockpit, which is made of wood. Power came from a 3,100 lb. thrust de Havilland Goblin 2 jet engine.

The Vampire was chosen as the first jet fighter for the RCAF in 1948 with some 85 Vampires assembled in Toronto at the deHavilland factory from parts and assemblies sent by the parent company in England. One regular force Squadron (410 St. Hubert, Quebec) and four Auxiliary Fighter Squadrons (400 Toronto, 401 & 483 Montreal and 442 Vancouver) were equipped with Vampires. In September 1949, 421 Squadron (Regular) was activated in Chatham and in October 1950, two more Reserve Squadrons, 411 at Toronto and 443 at Vancouver became operational. By August 1951, the last two Regular Squadrons (441 at St. Hubert and 413 at Bagotville) were fully equipped.

After the Second World War hundreds of young ex-RCAF pilots were still keen to fly. Auxiliary squadrons in the major cities provided access to the latest jet fighters. Many citizens wanted to hear and see these planes go fast and many pilots were only too happy to comply - at all altitudes! Unfortunately, 403 Auxiliary Squadron in Calgary never received Vampires to replace its North American Mustangs.


Our Vampire (# 17069) served at several bases in Eastern Canada until 1958 when it was sold to private interests in the United States. It was subsequently acquired and brought to Calgary as CF-RLK by Calgary lawyer and ex-403 Sqn. pilot, Milt Harradence Q.C. (subsequently Mr. Justice A. Milton Harradence of the Alberta Court of Appeal) who made it available to the museum.


  • The prototype Sea Vampire was the first jet to fly from an aircraft carrier.
  • The Vampire flew with the air forces of more than 15 countries, the last being the Swiss Air Force which retired them in 1999; 56 years after the type’s first flight!
  • The type was initially developed under the name ‘Spidercrab’.
  • The forward fuselage is made of balsa core plywood.


  • Wingspan of 12.19 metres (40ft 6in)
  • Height of 2.69 metres (8ft 10in)
  • Length of 9.37 metres (30ft 9in)
  • Maximum speed of 855 km/h (531 mph)
  • Rate of climb of 4350 ft/min