The Sea Vixen was designed to be the replacement for the Sea Venom. De Havilland sold the Sea Vixen to the Royal Navy at the end of the 1950s. The Royal Air Force bought the cheaper Gloster Javelin.
The prototype had on 26th September 1951 its first flight. On 6th September 1952 a terrible accident happened on the Farnborough International Air show. The Sea Vixen flew into a crowd and 31 people died. A second prototype was built and modified after that. In 1955 a variant with not foldable wingtip sections was built. In 1956 the first Sea Vixen landed on the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. In 1957 the first all-weather fighter, Sea Vixen FAW.20, was flown. In the year 1958 production of over 100 FAW.1 for the Fleet Air Arm aircraft was begun.
The FAW.2 was the successor of the FAW.1, the new aircraft had many upgrades like Hawker Siddeley Red Top Air-to-Air missiles, external fuel tanks, and more advanced avionics and electronics. The first FAW.2 was flown in 1962. In 1964 29 aircraft entered service and 16 old FAW.1 were modified into the FAW.2 variant. In 1966 the FAW.1 was retired from service. And in 1972 the FAW.2 was retired, it was replaced by the F-4 Phantom.
Today only one Sea Vixen is remaining; it is used on Air shows by the Flying Bulls.