Even though Robert Schneider has previously released a superb decal sheet covering the Swiss Vampire Mk.6 and Trainer Mk.55, the recent release of the excellent Airfix Vampire T.11 trainer kit, has persuaded him to release a new 1/72 scale sheet dedicated to this kit.
The irony of the matter is that when the Swiss delegation went on their excursion in October 1945, there was only one country with operational jet fighters, namely Great Britain, and only a choice of two types, the more traditional designed twin-engine Gloster Meteor and the rather radical single engine de Havilland DH. 100 Vampire. The choice of the Swiss evaluation team fell on the latter, and in 1946 the received the first of their four DH-100 vampire Mk.1 jets.
A perusal of the official statements and pilot anecdotes at the time of this acquisition on the website of the Swiss Defence Force provides an interesting, and at time amusing, insight into the pro and con arguments raging at the time. These ranged from the fact that the hot jet exhaust gasses would singe the grass runway strips then still in use, leading to a virtual Saharan dessert in the Alps, to the high risk of fatal accidents due to the excessive speeds of the new aircraft. Consequently, several voices advocated the acquisition of the Hawker Fury, while others argued that the era of manned fighter aircraft was over in any case, future wars being fought with rockets. Some even voiced the opinion that while the Vampire was a revolutionary aircraft, its name did not quite suite the tranquil Swiss alpine scenery. Consequently, most Swiss simply dubbed it “Vampi”.
This positivity persisted even after the delivery of the first Mk.1 Vampire, when the head of the Swiss delegation, Major William Frei (later dubbed “Düsen-Willy / Jet–Bill”) stated in a letter to the current Minister of Defence, that “unfortunately” I am only able to provide you with a good report concerning our vampire J-1004. He furthermore stated, that he could not envisage a greater catastrophe for the Swiss Air Force, than if the acquisition of further vampire fighters was abandoned. He did, however, caution that the new breed of jet pilots would have to be in peak physical condition and well trained to muster the necessary skills required to fly the new high speed aircraft in Alpine terrain.
In either case, these voices helped sway the public sentiment, and the Swiss eventually acquired further 178 DH-100 Vampire Mk. 6 fighters and 35 DH-115 Mk. 55 Vampire trainers. Although it was predicted that this wooden jet fuel cocktail would only be in service for a decade, the Vampire trainers soldiered bravely on until the were dismissed with great pomp and ceremony at Sion air base on 12th June 1990. It is fitting that John Cunningham, who delivered the first Vampires to Switzerland in “Operation Snowball”, where his skis were strapped to the booms of the aircraft, was present at the event.
In this new set, decals are provided for three individual aircraft, U-1202, which assisted with the testing of AS-11 guided missiles. This aircraft has a striking dayglo orange nose marking, for which a vinyl mask is provided.
U-1212 is unusual as it was the only Vampire that had the standard two-tone green/grey/ high-speed aluminium scheme used by Venoms in the mid 1980’s, all other Vampire retaining their overall high-speed silver finish. U-1215 is decorated with an ornate “Last but not Least” emblem that it wore for the Farnborough Air Show in 2002.
Availability: www.mc-one.ch, www.wingsandtracks.
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