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 total number was 542 including 127 military Devons and 13 Sea Devons. The first customer deliveries were made in early summer 1946 and the last example was delivered as late as 1967.
The initial production of the Dove was at De Havilland’s Hatfield plant, but from the early 1950s most were built at the company’s Broughton facility near Chester England.
The Dove was first flown in September 1945. Large numbers were sold from summer 1946 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 Argentina which took delivery of 70 which were mainly used by the Argentine Air Force. An initial order of 30 Devons was delivered to the Royal Air Force to be 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 for VIP, crew-training and light transport duties into the 1970s.
A Dove was used by Biafran Air Force during the Nigerian Civil War, and his wreck was found in 1970 in the court of a school in Uli; a second US-registered Riley Dove N477PM delivered in 1967 to Port Harcourt from Switzerland never reached Biafra because was stopped by Algerian authorities.
A few Doves and civilian Devons remain in use in 2011 in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and elsewhere with small commercial firms and with private pilot owners, including the Devon 21 syndicate operating from North Shore Airfield, near Auckland, New Zealand.