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de Havilland Sea Vixen TT.8

Manufacturer: de Havilland
Purpose: Two Seat Carrier-borne All Weather Interceptor
Wingspan: 51 ft 7in (16.94 m)
Height: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)
Length: 55 ft 7 in (16.94 m)
Max Speed (sea level): 600 knots (1,110 Km/h)
Cruising speed: Approx 450 knots (833Km/h)
Service ceiling: 48,000ft (14,630 m)
Powerplants: 2x Rolls Royce Avon Mk.208 Turbojets - 11,230 lbf ea
All-up weight: 41,575 lb (18,860 Kg)
27,950 lb (12,680 Kg) Empty
Weapons: 4 x Firestreak AA Misiles, 4 x Microcell 51mm rocket packs, 2 x 1000lb iron bombs, 2 x Bullpup Missiles, Red Top All aspect missiles
Range: 1,200 nautical miles (2,222 Km)


The prototype Sea Vixen made its maiden flight on the 26th of September 1951. The production aircrafts maiden flight was on the 20th of March 1956 with the first front line squdron being equipped from the 2nd of July 1959. The FAW 2 variant first flew on the 8th of March 1963 and entered serevice with No. 899 squadron in December 1963.

On the 5th of April 1956 a Sea Vixen made its first carrier landing on HMS ARk Royal. Sea Vixens served with a number of squadrons including 890, 892, 893, 899 and 766B. Sea Vixen FAW 1's were phased out of service from the 7th of October 1966. FAW 2 variants lasted until 1972 before being retired.

The Sea Vixen was a development of an RAF requirement based upon the DH110 that required a swept wing two seat fighter aircraft. Seavixens acheived a number of "firsts" when it entered service. It was the first swept wing aircraft to serve with the Fleet Air Arm, the first British aircraft with an integrated weapons system and the first to carry guided missiles rather than guns. In 1961 the squadron establishment rose from eight to fifteen per squadron in order to make better use of the carriers accommodation.

The FAW 2 is a direct development of the FAW 1 and the majority of FAW 2 aircraft were converted FAW 1's, although 29 new aircraft were constructed. The FAW 2 had a number of improvements over the FAW 1, such as increased fuel capacity in the permanently fitted over wing tanks plus the ability to carry the Red Top AA missile. They gave the Sea Vixen the ability to launch all aspect attacks. An improved escape system for both the pilot and the observer was fitted. Also updated avionics and improved AI 18 intercept radar plus wide band homers for detection of enemy radar were fitted.


The Sea Vixen was designed and operated in its primary role as a fighter providing airborne cover for the carrier and fleet. It could deliver a considerable strike at sea and ground targets using its considerable array of weapons. Sea Vixens saw action in Aden where they were used in support of British security forces. They were also used in southern Africa where they took part in the Beira patrols in support of the oil embargo of Rhodesia.

Gatwick Aviation Museum History

XS587 at Gatwick

XS587 is one of only 67 FAW 2 Sea Vixens produced, XS587 served with 899 squadron at RNAS Yeovilton from 1963 until disbanded on the 26th of January 1972. During that time XS587 spent short time on-board HMS Victorious where she was coded 252/V. She later was deployed aboard HMS Eagle. On retirement from front line duties XS587 was converted for drone and target towing duties, and remarked as Target Towing MK8. XS587 was acquired by Mike Carlton of "Hunter One" with the intention of returning it to flying condition, she was registered as G-VIXN.



On the death of Mike Carlton the Sea Vixen was put up for auction and purchased by Peter Vallance. It was transported by road to the Gatwick Aviation Museum by Downbird UK in September 1990. The aircraft retains its colourful drone/target towing colours.

WARNING!! The pictures below are large graphics when clicked on!

XS587 right side cockpit XS587 front right cockpit