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De Havilland Vampires were the first jet aircraft operated by the SAAF in South Africa, at squadron level. Vampire 229 is a single seat FB-52 variant of this classic series of early jet fighters, and was one of 30 delivered to the SAAF in 1951, to replace WWII vintage Spitfires.    

229 is a substantially complete airframe, minus engine, which was well preserved apart from minor damage over many years in storage. 229 was offered to the Pretoria Friends of the SAAF Museum in 2003 as a restoration project for static display as part of the proposed SAAF Museum combat aircraft and weapons exhibit, alongside the Sabre, Cheetah and Buccaneer, in Hangar 3 at Swartkop AFB.

Work is progressing well, with a team of enthusiasts having stripped many components for cleaning, panel beating and priming for re-assembly. All work is carried out at Swartkop, on a voluntary basis, on Saturday mornings. It is planned that the airframe will be ready for painting in an authentic operational colour scheme, with assistance from the Museum technical staff, within the next 18 months. 

We are pleased and proud to be afforded the opportunity to preserve this significant part of our military aviation heritage, and to create a display which will bring credit to the objectives of the SAAF Museum at Swartkop AFB.  

Bryan Bailey

Vampire Project Leader

Feel free to click on any of the thumbnails below to view a larger image.

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