The Venom succeeded the widely used Vampire. The prototype Venom (WV 612) first flew on the 2nd of September 1949. Despite a cutback in initial orders, over 370 F.B.1s were built. A large number of these were used to equip squadrons based in Germany as a part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. The first squadron to be equipped Venoms was No. 11 in August 1952. Venoms also equipped the Middle East Air Force with No. 6 Squadron receiving Venoms in replacement for their Vampires in February 1954. Venoms were similar in appearance to the Vampires that they replaced, but had a considerable performance advantage. Some of this performance increase was due to the Ghost engine (the Vampire used the Goblin), as well as improved wings and aerodynamics.
After initial flight limitations were lifted the Venoms were held in high regard for their excellent rate of climb and manoeuvrability at high altitude. On the 29th of December 1953 the prototype Venom F.B.4 (WE381 flew for the first time. The Venom F.B. 4 version entered squadron service in 1955. Changes introduced with the F.B. 4 included power operated ailerons, redesigned tail surfaces and the introduction of an ejector seat.
Venoms were finally retired form the R.A.F. in July 1962, the last unit still operating Vemons being No. 28 squadron at Khormaksar with the F.E.A.F . Venoms were also developed into Night Fighter variants - for this role a second seat was added and changes to nose made to accommodate the A.I. radar. The prototype NF2 aircraft (WP 227) first flew on the 22nd of August 1950 and the type entered service, after some production delays, with No. 23 Squadron in November 1953.
The primary role of the Venom F.B.4 was that of a short range, single seat fighter/bomber. With its 20mm cannons in the nose and provision for bombs or rocket projectiles the Venom could be used effectively in either the fighter or the bomber role. From the 31st of October 1956 Vemons were used in action during the Suez operations to attack Egyptian airfields. They saw action once again in the summer of 1957 when No.s 249 and 8 Squadrons, based at Khormaksar in Aden, were used against Omani rebels.
The example at Gatwick Aviation Museum (J1605)is an ex Swiss Air force Example built by the Swiss under licence. The Swiss Venoms remained in service until the early 1980s, with a series of upgrades to the aircraft during that time. The most distinctive upgrade was the fitting of the longer, turned-up nose also used on some Swiss Vampires. They were also fitted for carriage of a wider range of ordnance and could carry an underwing multi-sensor reconnaissance pod. After retirement, a number of the Swiss Venoms were acquired by warbird collectors and the "long-nose" Swiss Venoms are a popular attraction at airshows in the 21st century.