DE HAVILLAND SEA VENOM
In 1955, The Royal Australian Navy took possession of HMAS Melbourne, the last of 3 majestic-class light aircraft carriers built to strengthen Australia’s post-war maritime defences and provide rapid deployment capabilities for Australian troops and aircraft in the region.
Initially HMAS Melbourne’s flight decks rumbled to the same Centaurus 18-cylinder roar of the ageing piston-driven Hawker Sea Fury, which had served so well aboard HMAS Sydney during the Korean War. But this was now the jet age and HMAS Melbourne’s purpose-built angled flight deck was specifically designed for launch and retrieval of the new generation jet fighters.
The first of these came in the form of the twin-tail boom, De Havilland Sea Venom.
160 km faster than the land-based De Havilland Vampire already serving with the RAF and RAAF, the Sea Venom was originally designed for British Royal Navy as a naval version of the Venom NF.2 night fighter.
With extensive airframe modifications for carrier operations including folding wings, tail hook and strengthened undercarriage, the Australian Navy acquired 39 Sea Venoms in 1956 which were operated by 808, 805 and 816 Squadrons.
At the time of their introduction, the Sea Venom was the only radar enabled all-weather intercepter fighter in the South East Asia and South Pacific region and the aircraft later provided 24 hr fighter protection for the Far East Strategic Reserve Fleet transporting troops and equipment to South Vietnam during the Vietnam war.
Armed with 4 x 20 mm cannons and multiple rockets the Sea Venom also proved to be a formidable ground-attack fighter but did not see enemy action during eh Vietnam conflict.
As RAF pilots had already discovered, the Sea Venom was fast and highly manoeuvrable but it was not an easy aircraft to master. By the time of its retirement and replacement with the US designed McDonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk, a total of 11 RAN Sea Venoms had crashed or experienced substantial damage with the tragic loss of nine Australian aircrew.
Most of these losses occurred as training or landing accidents, where the tail hook failed to engage and the aircraft disappeared over the side of the carrier. One Sea Venom crashed into Sydney Harbour after a collision with another Sea Venom during a display flypast.
By 1966, the Sea Venom had been replaced aboard HMAS Melbourne by the A4 Skyhawk and the new hunter-sub killers, the twin engine Grumman S2F Tracker.
All De Havilland Sea Venom Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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