English translation by Frank McMeiken
On 8 April 2010, after around six decades, the skies above the Pianura Padana were witness to a welcome return. The illustrious winged subject was a De Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.6, which arrived in Italy direct from its former base at Cuers-Pierrefeu in France, piloted by Commandant Didier Berger, who also owned the aircraft. The reason for the return was that the aircraft had been sold to the Fondazione Museo dell'Aeronautica, and was destined to be put on display at the newly opened Volandia museum close to Malpensa Airport.Prior to being inserted into the fixed-wing section of the Museum, the aircraft landed at Venegono (Varese), home of Aermacchi, where it was repainted into the colours of the Aeronautica Militare's 6° Stormo. After the spraying operations, and a brief flight in company with the pride of the Aermacchi product range, the M346 Master, the aircraft headed off to Malpensa, where it made its final landing.The Vampire served in Italy between 1950 and 1960 in two versions, the FB.52A fighter-bomber and the NF.54 night-fighter (used as a trainer). The FB.52A single seat aircraft were licence manufactured by both FIAT and Aeronautica Macchi (now Aermacchi), while the NF.54 versions came direct from the de Havilland production lines in Britain. The aircraft now on display at the Museum is manufacturer's number 668, formerly registered F-AZHJ, and belonged to the Association Varoise des Avions de Collection. Before starting its career as a warbird, the aircraft had served with the Swiss Air Force. The country retired its last operational examples at the end of the eighties after forty years of honourable service, and as many of the fleet were still perfectly serviceable, they were quickly sold to collectors throughout Europe.
Images by Franco Gambarini, Luigi Pisano & Giorgio Ciarini
Text by Giorgio Ciarini