The photodissociation dynamics of ethyl bromide and ethyl iodide cations (C2H5Br(+) and C2H5I(+)) have been studied. Ethyl halide cations were formed through vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photoionization of the respective neutral parent molecules at 118.2 nm, and were photolysed at a number of ultraviolet (UV) photolysis wavelengths, including 355 nm and wavelengths in the range from 236 to 266 nm. Time-of-flight mass spectra and velocity-map images have been acquired for all fragment ions and for ground (Br) and spin-orbit excited (Br*) bromine atom products, allowing multiple fragmentation pathways to be investigated. The experimental studies are complemented by spin-orbit resolved ab initio calculations of cuts through the potential energy surfaces (along the RC-Br/I stretch coordinate) for the ground and first few excited states of the respective cations. Analysis of the velocity-map images indicates that photoexcited C2H5Br(+) cations undergo prompt C-Br bond fission to form predominantly C2H5(+) + Br* products with a near-limiting 'parallel' recoil velocity distribution. The observed C2H3(+) + H2 + Br product channel is thought to arise via unimolecular decay of highly internally excited C2H5(+) products formed following radiationless transfer from the initial excited state populated by photon absorption. Broadly similar behaviour is observed in the case of C2H5I(+), along with an additional energetically accessible C-I bond fission channel to form C2H5 + I(+) products. HX (X = Br, I) elimination from the highly internally excited C2H5X(+) cation is deemed the most probable route to forming the C2H4(+) fragment ions observed from both cations. Finally, both ethyl halide cations also show evidence of a minor C-C bond fission process to form CH2X(+) + CH3 products.