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Very Rare Vintage Cast-Iron Mercury Vampire 404 Jet Fighter Toy Airplane
This little toy plane is a rare beauty from the Mercury Company. Mercury had a line of planes in the 50s and 60s made in a factory in Torino and this 404 jet fighter is from that era.
It is a model of the de Havilland Vampire, a British jet-engine fighter commissioned by the Royal Air Force during World War II. The plane was considered highly experimental due to the unorthodox arrangement and single engine.
This little plane is made of cast-iron painted in bright silver. The wings are adorned with two roundels comprised of yellow, green and red. Roundels have been used by the British Air Force since 1915, to distinguish aircraft and ground forces.
Oddly, these roundels are historically inaccurate as the de Havilland Vampire bore red, blue and white roundels on each wing.
However, a customer tells us:
"In 1950, five British Vampires in fuel emergency landed in the country in Italy, 2 of them being destroyed and the other 3 entered the Italian Air Force. 100 more DH 100 Vampire and 2 DH 113 Venom were committed from IAF and built from Fiat and Aermacchi SpA, and became operative as jet-transiction fighter, before Thunderjets. The Italian colours on the wings: green, white and red are right."
So, it makes the toy even more interesting.
Though the Mercury Company was based in Turin, Italy, they manufactured a great number of model airplanes for the British company Dinky Toys.
The underside of the plane bears several cast maker's marks including the Mercury company's logo. You will also find the model number "N.404". The right wing exhibits a mark that reads "Vampire, Made in Italy".
Both wheels function nicely. There are some areas of wear and age, though this is to be expected of a cast-iron toy manufactured in the 1950's.
Overall, this Vampire remains in very good vintage condition. This will be a real treat for the avid collector.
Measurements: 2" nose to tail, 2 1/2" wing to wing 1/2" off ground Weight: 0.53 oz.
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