de Havilland Dove

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DH.104 Dove
De Havilland DH-104 Dove 8 D-INKA OTT 2013 05.jpg
de Havilland Dove
Role short-haul airliner
Manufacturer de Havilland
Designer Ron Bishop[1]
First flight 25 September 1945
Status Limited service
Produced 1946 - 1967
Number built 542[1]
Unit cost
$89,000 (1953)[2]
$136,000 (1961)[3]
Variants de Havilland Heron

The de Havilland DH.104 Dove was a British short-haul airliner developed and manufactured by de Havilland. It was a monoplane successor to the prewar de Havilland Dragon Rapide biplane. The design came about from the Brabazon Committee report which, amongst other aircraft types, called for a British-designed short-haul feeder for airlines.

The Dove was a popular aircraft and is considered to be one of Britain's most successful postwar civil designs, in excess of 500 aircraft were manufactured between 1946 and 1967. Several military variants were operated, such as the Devon by the Royal Air Force, the Sea Devon by the Royal Navy, the type also saw service with a number of overseas military forces.

A longer four-engined development of the Dove, intended for use in the less developed areas of the world, was the de Havilland Heron.

Development and design

The development team for the Dove was headed by Ronald Eric Bishop, the creator of the de Havilland Mosquito, a wartime fighter-bomber, and the de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jet aircraft in the world. It had been developed to meet the Type VB requirement issued by the Brabazon Committee.[4] In concept, the Dove was developed to be the replacement of the pre-war de Havilland Dragon Rapide, it also was required to be competitive with the large numbers of surplus military transports in the aftermath of the Second World War, such as the Douglas DC-3.[5] Unlike the Dragon Rapide, the Dove made use of a structure entirely composed of metal.[1][6] It also featured other innovations of the time, including constant-speed-variable-pitch propellers, flaps, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage.[7]

In 1946, aviation magazine Flight International praised the qualities of the newly-developed Dove, noting its "modernity" as well as the aircraft's load-carrying capacity, safe engine-failure performance, and positive maintenance features.[4] Considerable attention was paid to aspects of maintainability, many of the components were designed to be interchangeable and easy to remove or to replace, such as the rudder, elevator, and power units; other areas include the mounting of the engines upon four quick-release pick-up points, the routing of cables and piping, and detachable wings and tail cone.[8] The extensive use of special metal-bonding cements reduced the need for riveting during the manufacturing process, reducing overall weight and skin friction.[9]

Standard passenger versions of the Dove would carry between eight and eleven passengers, the cabin was designed to allow operators to convert between higher and lower density seating configurations;[10] features such as a single aircraft lavatory and an aft luggage compartment could be removed to provide for increased seating capacity.[11] Various specialised models were produced for other roles, such as aerial survey, air ambulance, and flying classroom.[2] A strengthened cabin floor structure was used to enable concentrated freight loads to be carried as well.[10] The Dove could also serve as a dedicated executive transport, in such a configuration it was capable of seating a total of five passengers; the executive model proved to be popular with various overseas customers, particularly those in the United States.[1]

The crew typically consisted of a pilot and radio operator, however rapidly-removable dual flight controls could be installed for a second flying crewmember instead.[4] A combination of large windows and a transparent perspex cabin roof provides for a high level of visibility from the cockpit.[10][12] From a piloting perspective, the Dove was observed for possessing easy flying qualities and mild stall qualities.[13] A unique anti-icing system was available for the Dove, involving an alcohol-based jelly delivered via porous metal strips embedding on the leading edges of the wings and tail.[12]

In September 1945, the first Dove conducted its maiden flight; in December 1946, the first in-service flight for Central African Airways took place.[6] Production of the Dove and its variants totalled 542 units, including 127 military-orientated Devons and 13 Sea Devons. The first deliveries to customers took place in Summer 1946, while the final example of the type was delivered in 1967. Initial production of the Dove was performed at de Havilland's Hatfield factory, but from the early 1950s onwards, the majority of aircraft were built at the company's Broughton facility near Chester.

Operational service

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 prewar designed de Havilland Dragon Rapide and other older designs.

The largest order for the Dove was placed by Argentina, which ultimately took delivery of 70 aircraft,[14] the majority of which were used by the Argentine Air Force.[15][page needed] LAN Chile took delivery of twelve examples and these were operated from 1949 onwards until the aircraft were sold to several small regional airlines in the United States in 1954.[16][page needed]

In excess of 50 Doves were sold to various operators in the United States by Jack Riley, an overseas distributor for the type. De Havilland later assumed direct control of U.S. sales, however did not manage to match this early commercial success for the type.[17]

An initial batch of 30 Devons was delivered to the Royal Air Force,[18] these aircraft 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 for VIP, crew-training and light transport duties into the 1970s.[16][page needed]

The Biafran Air Force operated a single Dove during the Nigerian Civil War, the aircraft was lost and subsequently found in 1970 on the premises of a school in Uli.[19] A second US-registered Riley Dove N477PM delivered in 1967 to Port Harcourt from Switzerland never reached Biafra because it was stopped by Algerian authorities.[19]

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.


Early production Dove 1 of Skyways in June 1948
de Havilland Dove
  • Dove 1 : Light transport aircraft, seating up to 11-passengers. Powered by two 340 hp (254 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Queen 70-4 piston engines.[20][21]
    • Dove 1B : Dove Mk 1 aircraft, fitted with two 380 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-2 piston engines.[21]
  • Dove 2 : Executive transport version, seating up to six passengers. Powered by two 340 hp (254 kW) Gipsy Queen piston engines.[21]
    • Dove 2B : Dove Mk 2 aircraft, fitted with two 380 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-2 piston engines.[21]
  • Dove 3 : Proposed high-altitude survey version. Not built.[21]
  • Dove 4 : Military transport and communication version.[21]
    • Devon C Mk 1 : Transport and communication version for the RAF.[22]
    • Devon C Mk 2 : Transport and communications version for the RAF. Re-engined version of the Devon C Mk 1.[22]
    • Sea Devon C Mk 20 : Transport and communications version for the Royal Navy.[22]
  • Dove 5 : The Dove 5 was powered by more powerful engines. The aircraft was fitted with two 380-hp (283-kW) Gipsy Queen 70-2 piston engines.[21][23]
  • Dove 6 : Executive transport aircraft. Uprated version of the Dove 2, powered by two 380 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-2 piston engines.[21][23]
    • Dove 6B : Stressed for operations at a maximum weight of 8,500 lb (3,856 kg).[21]
Riley Dove with Lycoming engines and taller swept fin at Long Beach airport in April 1987
  • Dove 7 : Uprated version of the Dove 1, fitted with two 400 hp (298 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-3 piston engines.[21]
  • Dove 8 : Uprated version of the Dove 2, fitted with two 400 hp (298 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-3 piston engines.[21]
    • Dove 8A : Five seater version of the Dove 8 for the U.S. market.[21]

  • Dove Custom 800 : A customized version of the Dove, carried out by Horton and Horton in Fort Worth, Texas. Typically outfitted with removable bulkheads, various custom interiors were available, including airliner-orientated configurations.[24]
  • Carstedt Jet Liner 600 : Conversions of the Dove, carried out by Carstedt Inc, of Long Beach, California, USA. The aircraft were fitted with two 605 ehp (451 kW) Garrett AiResearch TPE331 turboprop engines. The fuselage was lengthened by 87 inches to accommodate 18 passengers.[25][26]
  • Riley Turbo Executive 400 / Riley Turbo-Exec 400 / Riley Dove 400 : Conversions of the Dove, carried out by Riley Aeronautics Corp in the USA.[27] The aircraft were fitted with two 400 hp (298 kW) Lycoming IO-720-A1A flat-eight piston engines. Some of the Riley conversions were fitted with a taller swept vertical fin and rudder. During the late 1960s, Riley Aeronautics, located at the Executive Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, did interior refitting work on both the De Havilland Dove and the Heron.


de Havilland Devon
Dove 6A belonging to the National Test Pilot School departs the Mojave Airport

Civil operators

 Southern Rhodesia

Portuguese Angola

Portuguese Cape Verde

Portuguese Mozambique

Transportes Aéreos de Timor Dove at Bankstown Airport in the early 1970s. A Bristol Freighter is also present

Portuguese Timor

 Sierra Leone

 South Africa

 United Kingdom
 United States

Military operators

 Belgian Congo
  • Biafran Air Force - One Riley-converted Riley 400 was abandoned at Port Harcourt by Bristow Helicopters at the outbreak of civil war in 1967 and seized by Biafran mercenaries.[32]
  • Irish Air Corps - 4, one series 1B in 1953, one series 5 in 1959, one series 7 in 1962, and series 8 modified for radio and radar calibration in 1970.[30]
  • Royal Iraqi Air Force - 7 - One Series 1 for the Royal Flight delivered in 1947 followed by six Series 1 in 1948.[30]
    • Royal Flight
    • No. 3 Transport Squadron
  • Royal Jordanian Air Force - 6 - Two Series 1 transferred from Jordan National Airlines, two aircraft intended for Jordan National Airlines converted to Series 5 and transferred to air force, two new Series 7s deliverd in 1965 [30]
  • Royal Flight
  • Force Aérienne Katangaise - 6[30][33]
 New Zealand
  • Pakistan Air Force - 2, one former Government of Sind series 1 used until 1962, a new VIP series 2 delivered in 1949.[30]
    • No. 12 Squadron
 South Africa
 United Kingdom

Aircraft on display

South Africa
United Kingdom

Accidents and incidents

  • On 13 May 1948, a Dove 1 G-AJOU of Skyways Limited crashed near Privas, France, all four of the people on board killed, including the Earl Fitzwilliam and Kathleen Cavendish, the second daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy.[43]
  • On 1 December 1954, a Dove 2B VH-DHD of De Havilland Australia crashed at Narellan, near Camden, Australia. Reginald Adsett, a chief examiner of airman for the Australian Civil Aviation Department was killed. Two other were seriously injured.[44]
  • On 15 January 1958, Dove G-AOCE of Channel Airways crashed on approach to Ferryfield Airfield, Lydd, Kent, United Kingdom, both engines having stopped due to fuel starvation due to fuel mismanagement. All seven people on board survived.[45]
  • On 13 April 1966, Abdul Salam Arif, the President of Iraq, was killed when the Royal Iraqi Air Force de Havilland DH.104 Dove 1, RF392, he was onboard crashed in southern Iraq. The loss of the aircraft was suspected to be due to intentional sabotage by Ba'athist elements within the Iraqi military.[46]
  • On 11 April 1968, Dove 1 Z-900 of the Egyptian Air Force was lost over the Sahara desert following instrument failure. The aircraft was not found until 1 June 1971, all nine occupants had died of starvation.[47]
  • On 28 January 1970, TAG Airlines Flight 730 crashed over Lake Erie after having suffered an inflight structural failure, killing all nine people aboard.[48]
  • On 9 July 1983 a privately owned Dove, G-AMYP, suffered engine failure on take-off at Shoreham Airport, crashing into the banks of the River Adur. The pilot and sole occupant, Keith Wickenden, died on impact.[49]
  • On 3 December 1993, a Dove VH-DHD chartered dinner flight lost engine power during take off, resulting in the aircraft crashing into five houses in Essendon - a suburb containing the original airport for Melbourne Australia. Miraculously there were no fatalities amongst either the ten occupants of the Dove nor anyone on the ground, but all aboard the aircraft and one pedestrian were taken to hospital.[50]
  • On 3 February 2006, New Zealand based Devon, ZK-UDO (ex-RNZAF Devon 21) suffered a hard landing at RNZAF Base Ohakea due to an asymmetric flap deployment on approach. All passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries; the aircraft was damaged beyond economical repair.

Specifications (Dove 7)

de Havilland Dove Srs 5

Data from Flight International,[10] Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1966–67[51]

General characteristics


See also

Related development



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Jerram, Mike. "The last de Havilland." Flying Magazine, 120 (9). p. 43.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Commercial Aircraft 1953." Flight International, 6 March 1953. p. 304.
  3. Schlaeger September 1961, p. 31.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 de Havilland Dove 30 May 1946. p. 547a.
  5. The de Havilland Dove 12 April 1945, p. 399.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Hawker Siddeley Aviation." Flight International, 26 November 1964. p. 919.
  7. "de Havilland Heron." Flight International, 22 January 1954. p. 97.
  8. de Havilland Dove 30 May 1946. pp. 547b-547d.
  9. de Havilland Dove 30 May 1946. p. 547d.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 de Havilland Dove 30 May 1946. p. 547.
  11. The de Havilland Dove 12 April 1945, p. 400.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Schlaeger September 1961, p. 64.
  13. Schlaeger September 1961, p. 66.
  14. Jackson 1987, p. 445.
  15. Jackson 1978
  16. 16.0 16.1 Sykes 1972
  17. Collins, Richard L. "On Top: Life of Riley." Flying Magazine, April 1975. 96(4). p. 8.
  18. Jackson 1987, p. 446.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Cooper, Tom. "Civil War in Nigeria (Biafra), 1967-1970." 13 November 2003.
  20. Gunston 1980, p. 158.
  21. 21.00 21.01 21.02 21.03 21.04 21.05 21.06 21.07 21.08 21.09 21.10 21.11 Stemp 2011, p. 117.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Stemp 2011, p. 119.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Gunston 1980, p. 159.
  24. Schlaeger September 1961, pp. 30-31.
  25. "Carstedt Jet Liner 600", Flight International, p. 85, 19 January 1967<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Gunston 1980, pp. 159, 238.
  27. Jane 1972, p. 432.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 28.6 28.7 28.8 Stroud 1994, p. 67.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Stroud 1994, p. 68.
  30. 30.00 30.01 30.02 30.03 30.04 30.05 30.06 30.07 30.08 30.09 30.10 30.11 30.12 30.13 30.14 30.15 30.16 30.17 30.18 30.19 30.20 Sykes 1973, p. 56-60
  31. "F-12 (cn 04156)"., 11 February 2006. Retrieved: 11 October 2011.
  32. Sykes 1973, p. 22
  33. "Congo, Part 1; 1960-1963". ACIG. 2003. Retrieved 2013-08-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "de Havilland DH 104 Dove - ZS-BCC.", Retrieved: 25 May 2014.
  35. Ellis 2012, p. 77
  36. Ellis 2012, p. 1 72
  37. Ellis 2012, p. 257
  38. Ellis 2012, p. 21
  39. Ellis 2012, p. 286
  40. Ellis 2012, p. 94
  41. Ellis 2012, p. 76
  42. Ellis 2012, p. 272
  43. "Rich Peer Victim Of French Crash; Lord Fitzwilliam on Airplane With Kennedy's Daughter - Ex-Envoy Leaves Paris." The New York Times, 14 May 1948.
  44. "Pilot fatally hurt in crash." Sydney Morning Herald, 2 December 1954.
  45. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  46. "Abdel-Rahman Aref, 91, Former Iraqi President, Is Dead." The New York Times, 25 August 2007.
  47. Sykes 1973, p. 22.
  48. "Aircraft Accident Report TAG Airlines, Inc. de Havilland Dove (DH-104), N2300H, in Lake Erie." National Transportation Safety Board, 28 January 1971. NTSB-AAR-71-5.
  50. Smith, Dwight. "1993: Essendon plane crash; Residents anger grows." The Weekly Review: Moonee Valley, 7 December 1993.
  51. Taylor 1966, pp. 150–151.
  52. Jackson 1987, p. 450.


  • "de Havilland Dove." Flight International, 30 May 1946. pp. 547a-547e.
  • Ellis, Ken. Wrecks & Relics, 23rd Edition. Manchester, England: Crecy Publishing, 2012. ISBN 9 780859 791724.
  • Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Propeller Airliners. Exeter Books, 1980. ISBN 0-896-73078-6.
  • Jackson, A.J. de Havilland Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam & Company Ltd, 1978. ISBN 0-370-30022-X.
  • Jackson, A.J. de Havilland Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, Third edition, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-802-X.
  • Jane, Frederick Thomas. Jane's All the World's Aircraft. Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1972.
  • Schlaeger, Gerald J. "de Havilland Dove Custom 800." Flying Magazine, September 1961. Vol. 69, No. 3. pp. 30–31, 64, 66.
  • Stemp, P. D. "Kites, Birds & Stuff - de Havilland Aircraft.", 2011. ISBN 1-447-77679-8.
  • Stroud, John. "Post War Propliners: de Havilland Dove". Aeroplane Monthly, Vol. 22, No. 10, October 1994. pp. 64–69.
  • Sykes, T. (editor) The DH104 Dove and DH114 Heron Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1973.
  • "The de Havilland Dove." Flight International, 12 April 1945. pp. 399–400.
  • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1966–67. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1966.

External links