Aviation Historian 21
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M.Willis - Here come the Vixettes
The genuine article - a pair of early production Sea Vixens take off in formation, the nearest, XJ490, carrying four Firestreaks on its underwing hardpoints, the furthest toting a pair of auxiliary fuel tanks. The Sea Vixen entered operational service with No 892 Sqn in July 1959, the Sea Venom leaving front-line service in 1960.
A rare, if slightly out-of-focus, photograph of the “Vixettes” during a performance of the “Flight Deck” section of the Royal Tournament at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London, held during July 11-28, 1962. The aircraft look remarkably convincing and in all likelihood very few of the spectators noticed that the all-weather fighters on display were not what they appeared to be.
With no easy reference points by which to judge its size, Vixette “XJ602/247” is easily mistaken for the real thing, and is seen here at Lee-on-Solent in August 1963 with its outer wing panels removed. The real XJ602 was delivered to the Fleet Air Arm in October 1960 and was retired after an eventful career in late 1973.
In one piece and bearing a pair of dummy Firestreak missiles on its starboard wing, Vixette “XJ603/246” provides an unusual sight for passers-by behind the fence at a Royal Navy base. There appears to be very little information regarding the true identities of the Sea Venoms - unless a TAH reader can provide chapter and verse!
Either the world’s smallest Sea Vixen or the world’s biggest deck crew - the Royal Tournament “Vixette” display was filmed at Lee-on-Solent for the Rank Organisation’s Look at Life series.
Minus its outer wing panels, Vixette “XJ601/241” is seen here with at least one Firestreak on its port inner wing section (but not on the starboard side) in its position as a gate guardian at RNAS Lee-on-Solent. The station was designated HMS Ariel during 1959-65, after which it reverted to HMS Daedalus again. Curiously, serial XJ601 was never allocated to a real Sea Vixen, or indeed any aircraft.