Topic: Vampire Place (TDN 11/01/2020)

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Vampire Place

Vampire Place in Bell Block was named in May 2010, at the same time as two other cul-de-sacs adjoining De Havilland Drive. Bypass Developments Limited, who carried out the subdivision, suggested the names Albatross Place, Hercules Place and Vampire Place.

All three were the names of aircraft produced by the De Havilland Aircraft Company, which was considered appropriate as the streets are located within the area of the city’s original airport.

The Vampire Place cul-de-sac (French for “bottom of the bag”) is the first of the three on the left as you travel west along De Havilland Drive.

The De Havilland DH100 Vampire was a British fighter jet developed during the Second World War. Originally named the Spider Crab, it was designed to harness newly developed jet engine technology and entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1946. It was the first British plane to exceed 800 kilometres per hour – vampires of course being known for their superhuman speed – and the first jet aircraft to cross the Atlantic.

Vampires had an 11.58 metre wingspan and a range of nearly 2000 kilometres. They took part in several conflicts, including the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Malayan Emergency, and more than 3000 were eventually manufactured and exported around the world before the design was retired in 1966. A variant known as the Sea Vampire became the first plane to be landed on a moving aircraft carrier, and a “tropicalized” version with cockpit air conditioning served in the Middle East.

Surprisingly, for a 1940s design there were still large numbers of Vampires in service around the world in the 1980s – the Swiss Air Force didn’t retire their fleet until 1990.

Inglewood businessman Brett Emeny bought a 1958 Vampire T11 from Switzerland in 1995 and its distinctive shape can still be seen flying over New Plymouth now and again.

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