The de Havilland DH.104 Dove

The de Havilland DH.104 Dove was a British monoplane short-haul airliner from de Havilland, the successor to the biplane de Havilland Dragon Rapide and was one of Britain’s most successful post-war civil designs. The design came about from the Brabazon Committee report which called for a British designed short-haul feeder for airlines. Production of the Dove and its variants totalled 542 including 127 military Devons and 13 Sea Devons. The first customer deliveries were made in early summer 1946, the last example being delivered in 1967. Initial production of the Dove was at De Havilland’s Hatfield factory, but starting in the early 1950s, most were built at the company’s Broughton facility.

RNZAF Devon C.1 of 42 Squadron at Wellington Airport in 1971

The Dove first flew on 25 September 1945. From summer 1946 large numbers were sold to scheduled and charter airlines around the world, replacing and supplementing the pre-war designed De Havilland Dragon Rapide and other older designs. LAN Chile took delivery of twelve examples and these were operated within that country from 1949 until sale to small United States airlines in 1954. The largest order for Doves was placed by Argentine which took delivery of 70 which were mainly used by the Argentine Air Force. An initial batch of 30 Devons was delivered to the Royal Air Force and these were used as VIP and light transports for over 30 years. The Royal New Zealand Air Force acquired 30 Devons between 1948 and 1954 and these remained in service into the 1970s. A few Doves and civilianised Devons remain in use in 2011 in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and elsewhere with small commercial firms and with private pilot owners.

One Response to The de Havilland DH.104 Dove

  1. Capt. Wm. S. Stafford MSc (Ret.) says:

    This was a pretty amazing airplane, & what I was impressed with was it’s extremely rugged construction, on par with many DeHavillands. W. the Gypsy Queen inverted in-line 6 cylinder engines, & opposite-rotating props, it was underpowered and required your full attention on take-off. It bore many of the DH-98 Mosquito parts and systems, notably the use of compressed air for brakes, with a brake air flow valve operated by positioning the rudders, whilst trying to coordinate this with the brake application spoon on the yoke.
    It handled heavier than a Twin Beech 18, and was very cramped in the cockpit, w/ both pilots rubbing shoulders. But overall, once you became used to the systems post-WW2 British, it seemed a pleasure to fly. The upgraded Doves / Herons (I have flown both) with the 400HP Lycomings were a vast improvement in performance and reliability, but tended to run a little warm on the ground. Brake fade on hot days was also a problem if you taxied long distances, say like DFW for instance. I was fortunate to experience this line of DeHavillands, and perhaps one day I’ll come in contact w/ the restored Mosquito at Ardmore Airport in New Zealand where I have lived for over 11 years.

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