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The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was a single engine jet fighter which entered service with the RAF in 1946. Designed to Air Ministry specification F.6/41, the demand was for a fighter with a maximum speed in excess of 500 mph and a combat radius of at least 300 miles. The twin tail boom layout design allowed a short tailpipe from the powerplant, a de Havilland Goblin centrifugal turbojet. This limited the loss of thrust and reduced overall weight. Also of note in the design was the use of plywood and balsa wood in the construction of the cockpit section; de Havilland already had experience of using wood in the construction of high performance aircraft. Preliminary flight testing in September 1943 proved to be a success, with modifications made to the rudder to reduce drag and increase stability. The third prototype aircraft was also fitted with the planned standard armament of four 20mm Hispano cannon. In May 1944 an order for 120 aircraft was placed, and the first production Vampire F.Mk.I made its maiden flight in April 1945; the Vampire briefly held the record as the fastest British jet fighter with a top speed of 540 mph. No.247 Squadron was the first unit to be equipped with the Vampire in March 1946, shortly followed by No.54 and No.72 Squadrons to form the first Vampire Wing at RAF Chilbolton. In 1948 Vampires were employed by the 2nd Tactical Air Force based in Germany. A specially modified Vampire again hit the record books when it achieved a world altitude record of 59,446 feet. 1948 also saw the first testing of the FB.Mk.5. This was initially a modified Vampire F.3 with a strengthened and clipped wing, increased armor and greater ground clearance for the carrying of external ordnance. This fighter-bomber variant of the Vampire was capable of carrying up to 2000 lbs of bombs or 60 lb rockets, and went on to equip 40 squadrons within the RAF as well as being the first RAF jets to operate in the Far East. The Vampire FB.Mk.5 was used operationally in ground attack missions against insurgents in Malaya until it was replaced by the Venom in 1953. The FB.Mk.5 was also used as the basis for the Royal Navy’s Sea Vampire F.Mk.20 which, fitted with an arrestor hook, long travel landing gear and larger wing flaps, entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in June 1949. A popular export fighter, just under 3300 Vampires were built - many under license overseas.