The De Haviland Vampire and its Checkered History With the IAF

M G Singh By M G Singh, 18th Mar 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Airplanes

The Vampire was the first jet fighter bomber introduced in the IAF's inventory. It was part of the IAF first line force for almost two decades.

The Vampire and the IAF

The Indian Air Force is operating the latest state of the art fighter-bombers like the Sukhoi and the MIG in the 21st century. However it should not be forgotton that six decades back the IAF launched itself into the Jet age with the De Haviland Vampire. This Vampire has the distinction of being the first fighter bomber with jet engines to adorn the IAF inventory. In fact the IAF was the first country in Asia to operate a jet fighter bomber and that is no mean achievement.

The Vampire was imported from England in 1948 and the first lot of Vampires equipped No 7 squadron, one of the oldest squadrons of the IAF.

The vampire was developed by British Aerospace towards the end of the war. It was a subsonic fighter-bomber and was fairly effective in a ground support role. The vampire was made in large numbers by the British and it is estimated that about 3300 of its variants were manufactured and sold to a number of countries in the world including India. The vampire was a single engined two-seater fighter-bomber, with a top speed of about 550 mph.

The Vampire when it was inducted into the IAF was an air superiority plane, but within a decade it had become obselete. Despite this the IAF for reasons of economy carried on with this aircraft. It was not used during the 1962 conflict with China but on 01 Sept 1965, news was received of a Pakistani thrust in the Chamb sector( Operation Grand Slam). Accordingly 4 Vampires were scrambled , to give ground support to the beleaguered Indian troops. Initially they were successful but soon the Pakistan Air Force threw in the American built F-86 Sabre jet.
The Vampires were not a match for the F-86 and it is on record that all the 4 vampires were lost to the Sabres and to ground attack. It was a terrible blow and even now four decades later, it has never been made public as to who took the decision to launch the Vampire in the attack when superior aircraft like the Hawker Hunter and MIG 21 was available. Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh was the Chief of the IAF, yet all are silent on this aspect. The Vampire at that time had lost its cutting edge .

Ultimately the Vampire was phased out from the IAF inventory in 1968 after a service of nearly two decades. It is preserved in the IAF museum at Palam at Delhi and can be seen by all. The Vampire had a number of versions and later Vampires also had night operation capability. The Vampire and Hawker hunter were the last of the breed of British aircraft to serve with the IAF as the Indian defence Minister had opted for the Russian built MIG for the IAF.. But the Vampire will be remembered as the fore runner of the present breed of operational jets of the IAF.


British Jets, Indian Air Force, Jet Fighter Bomber, Jet Plane, Vampire

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author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Denise O
19th Mar 2011 (#)

Darn good info. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Bob
15th Mar 2013 (#)

Interesting article.
Lot of these jets were built.
Australia bought 50 vampires.
But were very dissapointed, as tended to have engine stalls. Relegated to trainers & then replaced with Italian Macchi's quite quickly.

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