The de Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen is a British twin-engine, twin boom-tailed, two-seat, carrier-based fleet air-defence fighter flown by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm from the 1950s to the early 1970s. The Sea Vixen was designed by the de Havilland Aircraft Company during the late 1940s at its Hatfield aircraft factory in Hertfordshire, developed from the company's earlier first generation jet fighters.[a] It was later called the Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen after de Havilland was absorbed by the Hawker Siddeley Corporation in 1960.
The Sea Vixen had the distinction of being the first British two-seat combat aircraft to achieve supersonic speed, albeit not in level flight. Operating from British aircraft carriers, it was used in combat over Tanganyika and over Yemen during the Aden Emergency. In 1972, the Sea Vixen was phased out in favour of the American-made McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 interceptor. There have been no flying Sea Vixens since 2017.
XS587 was built as an FAW.2 and served with 899 NAS. After frontline service she was converted to drone/target tug configuration and designated as FAW(TT).2. As a result, she carries a colourful paint scheme of white and red topsides and yellow and black striped undersides. She also has a fin flash, very rare for a Sea Vixen. She was operated out of Tarrant Rushton airfield for target towing duties.
She's the only target tug Sea Vixen left, so there's one reason at least to visit the collection! In her time at Gatwick she initially carried out a few engine runs, but these were soon stopped by a suspected broken accessory gearbox.