de Havilland Vampire T.11 XE985

 

Photo: Bruce Gordon, de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre

 

Photo: Mark Gauntlett

 

Vampire T.11 XE985 was built at de Havilland 's Chester/Hawarden factory under Construction Number 15572 and declared ready for collection on 21st June 1955. Following a two month spell with No.5 Maintenance Unit at RAF Kemble, the aircraft was issued to the Middle East Air Force and delivered to 32 Squadron at RAF Shaibah, Iraq on 10th September 1955. XE985 moved with 32 Squadron to RAF Takali, Malta in October 1955 then on to RAF Amman, Jordan in August 1956. With 32 Squadron's change of role (to a light bomber squadron flying Canberras) the following year, XE985 was returned to the UK on 6th January 1957 and transferred, via 19 MU at RAF St. Athan, to 12 MU at RAF Kirkbride. The aircraft remained with 12 MU until delivered to No.5 Flying Training School at RAF Oakington on 4th June 1959, coded "64". XE985 formed part of the four-ship 5 FTS display team, called the "Hot Box", which performed with T.11s at many Battle of Britain and other RAF airshows between 1959 and 1962 whereupon the School converted to the multi-engined Varsity and XE985 was placed into storage with 19 MU at St. Athan.

 

On 5th July 1967 the aircraft was declared NEA (a "Non-effective Airframe") and sold to Hawker-Siddeley Aviation a few months later. Following a period of storage at Hawarden and Woodford, the pod was moved to the Mosquito Museum at London Colney and fitted with wings and booms from WZ476. The wings and booms of XE985 were gifted to 1066 (Hitchin) Squadron ATC, along with the pod of XE935, by Hawker-Siddeley in 1973. The pod of XE985 remained at the Museum until purchased by Gwyn Jones' de Havilland Aviation in South Wales with a view to returning the aircraft to flying status. That plan was later abandoned and the pod acquired by myself in April 2004. XE985 is currently stored awaiting restoration.

 

de Havilland Mosquito B.35

 

Photo: Mark Gauntlett

Photo: Mark Gauntlett

Photo: Mark Gauntlett

Photo: Mark Gauntlett

 

The aim of this project is to rebuild, using as many original parts as possible, a section of Mosquito bomber fuselage encompassing the pilot's instrument panels and flying controls. This will ultimately incorporate a 'slice' of fuselage structure built using the original ply-balsa-ply composite and doped fabric construction techniques.

 

At present, the instrument panels and other controls are around 80% complete with only minor details to restore or reproduce. These items are shown here mounted in a temporary jig pending the completion of the fuselage shell. Reproduction parts have been manufactured from official de Havilland drawings or by using original parts as patterns and, in most cases, using the correct materials.

 

The display reproduces the cockpit of a late mark bomber variant of the Mosquito but is also representative of the closely related photo-reconnaisance versions.

If you have information or photographs relating to any of the projects on this page, then I'd be delighted to hear from you. I am particularly keen to see pictures of XE985 in service, either with 32 Sqn. or 5 FTS or the aerobatic display team "Hot Box". Please see the Contacts section and drop me a line.

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