de Havilland Dragon Rapide

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DH.89 Dragon Rapide/Dominie
Dragon rapide g-aeml flying arp.jpg
Role Short-haul airliner
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight 17 April 1934
Primary user Royal Air Force
Number built 731

The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a 1930s British short-haul biplane passenger airliner.

Design and development

In late 1933, the Dragon Rapide was designed at the de Havilland company as a faster and more comfortable successor to the DH.84 Dragon. It was in effect a twin-engined, scaled-down version of the four-engined DH.86 Express. It shared many common features with the DH.86 Express, including its tapered wings, streamlined fairings and the Gipsy Six engine, but it demonstrated none of the operational vices of the DH.86 Express, and went on to become perhaps the most successful British-built short-haul commercial passenger aircraft of the 1930s.

Operational history

Prewar operations

Dragon Rapide of Isle of Man Air Services on a scheduled service at Manchester (Ringway) Airport in 1938
G-ADAH, built in 1935, and used by Hillmans Airways and Allied Airways until 1947. On display at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, UK.

On 17 April 1934, the prototype aircraft first flew at Hatfield. 205 examples were built for airlines and other owners all around the world before the outbreak of World War II. Originally designated the "Dragon Six" it was first marketed as "Dragon Rapide", although later it was popularly referred to as the "Rapide". From 1936, with the fitting of improved trailing edge flaps, they were redesignated DH.89As.

In the summer of 1934, the type entered service with UK-based airlines, with Hillman Airways Ltd being first to take delivery in July. From August 1934, Railway Air Services (RAS) operated a fleet of Dragon Rapides on routes linking London, the north of England and on to Northern Ireland and Scotland. The RAS DH.89s were named after places on the network, for example "Star of Lancashire".1

Isle of Man Air Services operated a fleet of Rapides on scheduled services from Ronaldsway Airport near Castletown to airports in north-west England including Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester. Some of its aircraft had been transferred to it after operation by Railway Air Services.

One famous incident was in July 1936 when two British MI6 intelligence agents, Cecil Bebb and Major Hugh Pollard, flew Francisco Franco in Dragon Rapide G-ACYR from the Canary Islands to Spanish Morocco, at the start of the military rebellion which began the Spanish Civil War.2 It is on display in the Museo del Aire, Madrid.

World War Two

Dominie of the Royal Navy

At the start of World War II, many (Dragon) Rapides were impressed by the British armed forces and served under the name de Havilland Dominie. They were used for passenger and communications duties. Over 500 further examples were built specifically for military purposes, powered by improved Gipsy Queen engines, to bring total production to 731. The Dominies were mainly used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy for radio and navigation training. Postwar they were used as communications aircraft by Royal Naval air station flights.

DH.89B Dominie Mark II in Dutch Air Force livery

Other civilian Dragon Rapides continued to fly for UK airlines as part of the Associated Airways Joint Committee (AAJC). The AAJC co-ordinated the UKs wartime scheduled services which were entirely operated on over-water routes.

After the war, many ex-RAF survivors entered commercial service; in 1958, 81 examples were still flying on the British register. Dominie production was by both de Havilland and Brush Coachworks Ltd, the latter making the greater proportion.

Postwar operations

The DH.89 proved an economical and very durable aircraft, despite its relatively primitive plywood construction, and many were still flying in the early 2000s. Several Dragon Rapides are still operational in the UK, and several suppliers still offer pleasure flights in them. A Dragon Rapide can be seen in the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Two Dragon Rapides are still airworthy in New Zealand. One Dragon Rapide flies with the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and another is based in Yolo County, California. Two are operated by Classic Wings for pleasure flights in UK.

After the Second World War de Havilland introduced a Dragon Rapide replacement, the de Havilland Dove.

Variants

Dragon Rapide G-AIYR at Old Warden airfield
Dragon Rapide in flying condition, at Duxford aerodrome
D.H.89
Twin-engined light transport biplane. First production version.
D.H.89A
Improved version, fitted with a landing light in the nose, modified wingtips and cabin heating.
D.H.89A Mk 4
One D.H.89A aircraft, powered by two de Havilland Gipsy Queen 2 piston engines, fitted with constant speed propellers.
D.H.89A Mk 5
One D.H.89A aircraft, powered by two de Havilland Gipsy Queen 3 piston engines, fitted with variable-pitch propellers.
D.H.89A Mk 6
One D.H.89A aircraft fitted with Fairey X5 fixed-pitch propellers.
D.H.89M 
Military transport version. Exported to Lithuania and Spain.
D.H.89B Dominie Mk I
Radio and navigation training version.
D.H.89B Dominie Mk II
Communications and transport version.

Operators

Civil

 Argentina
 Australia
Dragon Rapide of VARIG preserved at Rio de Janeiro
 Brazil
Flag of North Borneo.svg British North Borneo
Flag of the Crown Colony of Sarawak (1946).svg Crown Colony of Sarawak
Flag of Brunei 1906-1959.svg Protectorate of Brunei
 Canada
 Finland
 Iceland
 India
 Iraq
 Ireland
 Latvia
  • Valsts Gaisa satiksme
 Lebanon
 Netherlands
 New Zealand
 Palestine
  • Palestine Airways (British Mandate of Palestine)
  • Aviron
 Paraguay
 Romania
 South Africa
 Spanish State
  Switzerland
 United Kingdom
 Yugoslavia

Military operators

 Australia
 Belgium
 Canada
 Egypt
 Finland
 Nazi Germany
 India
 Iran
 Israel
 Jordan
 Lithuania
 Netherlands
 New Zealand
 Peru
 Portugal
 Southern Rhodesia
 South Africa
 Spain
 Spain
 United Kingdom
 United States
 Uruguay
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Accidents and incidents

Specifications (Dragon Rapide)

1944 de Havilland DH89a Dragon Rapide 6

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 8 passengers
  • Length: 34 ft 6 in (10.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 48 ft 0 in (14.6 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 3 in (3.1 m)
  • Wing area: 340 ft² (32 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,230 lb (1,460 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,500 lb (2,490 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × de Havilland Gipsy Six inline engine, 200 hp (149 kW) each

Performance

Notable appearances in media

A de Havilland Dragon Rapide, the Sky Gypsy, appears in "Out of Time", an episode of the BBC science fiction television series Torchwood, in which one is accidentally flown through a "transcendental portal" and travels from 1953 over fifty years into its passengers' future. Aircraft registered as G-ACZE appears in the 1990 ITV production Agatha Christie's Poirot, "Peril at End House". Dragon Rapides appear in several films including The Maggie, The Captain's Paradise, Fathom, and the 1995 film adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. A Dragon Rapide was also seen in the 2004 movie, A Good Woman (film), starring Helen Hunt.

A 1986 Spanish film, Dragon rapide,11 covers its historical use by Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

British Airways shows a Dragon Rapide in their 2011' advert To Fly. To Serve.12

See also

Related development
Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ Jackson, 1978, pp.362–363
  2. ^ Alpert, Michael BBC History Magazine April 2002
  3. ^ Poole 1999, p. 12.
  4. ^ Poole 1999, pp. 120–21.
  5. ^ Poole 1999, pp. 121–22.
  6. ^ Poole 1999, pp. 126–27.
  7. ^ ASN Aircraft accident 19-FEB-1954 de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide G-AFMF, accessed 8 November 2011.
  8. ^ Humphreys 2001, p. 169.
  9. ^ "I dag er et trist jubilæum for dansk fodbold", Politiken, 16 July 2010, accessed 9 September 2011.
  10. ^ CNAPG Dragon Rapide Individual Aircraft History Page, accessed 9 September 2011.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]

Bibliography

  • Hamlin, John F. The De Havilland Dragon Rapide Family. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2003. ISBN 0-85130-344-7.
  • Jackson, A.J. De Havilland Aircraft since 1909. 1978. Putnam & Company Ltd. ISBN 0-370-30022-X
  • Humphreys, Roy (2001). Kent Aviation, A Century of Flight. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2790-9. 
  • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft 1919–1972: Volume II. London: Putnam (Conway Maritime Press), 1988. ISBN 0-85177-813-5
  • Poole, Stephen (1999). Rough Landing or Fatal Flight. Douglas: Amulree Publications. ISBN 1-901508-03-X. 
  • Fresson, Ted (May 2008). Air Road to the Isles. Erskine: Kea Publishing. ISBN 978-0951895894. 

External links








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