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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

De Havilland D.H.104 Dove

Devon C.1 ZK-ZKF taxies in at Ohakea. This aircraft was acquired from the RNZAF's ground instructional fleet in 2011.

The Dove was designed during the closing years of World War II to meet a Brabazon Committee requirement to replace the D.H.89A Dragon Rapide on ‘third level’ domestic routes in the United Kingdom. However, the resulting aircraft was expensive to buy and with operating costs 50% higher than those of the Rapide, it proved beyond the means of the companies it had been aimed at. Despite this, the Dove went on to enjoy great success, its high cruising speeds and single-engine performance attracting significant interest from overseas airlines, and resulting in the production line switching from Hatfield to larger premises at Hawarden. The largest customer was the Argentine Government, which ordered 70 in two batches, for operation by various state-owned organisations. The Royal Air Force ordered 40 to replace the Dominie in the communications role: known as the Devon, the type remained in service until June 1984, when it was phased out in favour of another De Havilland product, the 125.

First flight: 25 Sep 45 (c/n 04000/P/1, G-AGPJ)

Production: 542, in the UK (233 at Hatfield and 209 at Hawarden). The penultimate aircraft was assembled by Executive Air Engineering at Coventry, from parts supplied from the Hawarden production line.

First delivery: May 46, to De Havilland Canada (c/n 04001, CF-BNU)

Last delivery: 21 Feb 68, to Martin-Baker (Engineering) Ltd. (c/n 04541, G-AVVF)

Variants: Dove 1 - initial production version powered by 2 De Havilland Gipsy Queen 70-3 pistons, with seating for up to 11 passengers;

Dove 1B - Dove 1 with Gipsy Queen 70-4 engines;

Dove 2 - executive transport version of Dove 1;

Dove 2B - Dove 2 with Gipsy Queen 70-4 engines;

Dove 4 - version for military communications, powered by Gipsy Queen 71s, with accommodation for 7 passengers and equipped with safety raft for overwater operation (known as Devon C.1 and Sea Devon C.20 in RAF and RN service respectively);

Dove 5 - Dove 1B with Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.2 engines;

Dove 6 - executive transport version of Dove 5;

Dove 7 - Dove 5 with re-designed cockpit and raised roof, powered by Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.3 engines;

Dove 8 - executive transport version of Dove 7.

Conversions: Riley Dove 400 - Dove re-engined with Lycoming IO-720 engines and equipped with a new flight deck and passenger interior, airstair and optional swept fin (20 conversions completed by Riley Aeronautics in the USA and 7 by McAlpine Aviation at Luton; first flight Feb60);

Carstedt CJ600A - stretched Dove re-engined with AiResearch TPE-331 turboprops and equipped with re-engineered cockpit, with accommodation for 18 passengers (6 converted by C&W Aviation, Long Beach, CA).

DH Dove survivors
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