DH.104 Dove
A 1949 de Havilland Dove (2017 air show)
Role Short-haul airliner
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight 25 September 1945; 78 years ago (1945-09-25)
Status Limited service
Produced 1946–1967
Number built 544[1]
Developed into de Havilland Heron
de Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover

The de Havilland DH.104 Dove is a British short-haul airliner developed and manufactured by de Havilland. The design, which was a monoplane successor to the pre-war Dragon Rapide biplane, came about from the Brabazon Committee report which, amongst other aircraft types, called for a British-designed short-haul feeder for airlines.[2]

The Dove was a popular aircraft and is considered to be one of Britain's most successful postwar civil designs, with over 500 aircraft manufactured between 1946 and 1967. Several military variants were operated, such as the Devon by the Royal Air Force and the Sea Devon by the Royal Navy, and 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 Heron. A considerably re-designed three-engined variant of the Dove was built in Australia as the de Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover.

Development and design

The development team for the Dove was headed by Ronald Bishop,[2] 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.[3] In concept, the Dove was developed to be the replacement of the pre-war Dragon Rapide.[2] It was also 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.[4] Unlike the Dragon Rapide, the Dove's structure was entirely metal.[5][6] It featured innovations including constant-speed propellers, flaps, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage.[7][2]

In 1946, aviation magazine Flight 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.[3] Considerable attention was paid to aspects of maintainability, many of the components being designed to be interchangeable and easy to remove or replace, such as the rudder, elevator, and power units; other areas include the mounting of the engines upon four quick-release pickup points, the routing of cables and piping, and the detachable wings and tail cone.[8] The extensive use of special Redux metal-bonding adhesives reduced the need for riveting during the manufacturing process, reducing overall weight and air-skin friction.[9]

While 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 increased seating.[11] Various specialised models were produced for other roles, such as aerial survey, air ambulance, and flying classroom.[12] A strengthened cabin floor structure was used to enable concentrated freight loads to be carried as well.[10] The Dove could also serve as an executive transport, and in such a configuration it was capable of seating five passengers; the executive model proved to be popular with various overseas customers, particularly those in the United States.[5]

The crew typically consisted of a pilot and radio operator, although rapidly removable dual flight controls could be installed for a second flying crewmember.[3] A combination of large windows and a transparent perspex cabin roof provided a high level of visibility from the cockpit.[10][13] From a piloting perspective, the Dove was noted for possessing easy flying qualities and mild stall qualities.[14] A TKS anti-icing system was available for the Dove, involving an alcohol-based jelly delivered via porous metal strips embedded on the leading edges of the wings and tail.[13]

Operational service

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

The Dove first flew on 25 September 1945.[2] In December 1946, the Dove entered service with Central African Airways.[6] Initial production of the Dove took place at de Havilland's Hatfield factory, but from 1951 the aircraft were built at the company's Broughton facility near Chester.[15] The final example of the type was delivered in 1967. Production of the Dove and its variants totalled 544 aircraft,[1] including two prototypes, 127 military-orientated Devons and 13 Sea Devons.

From 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. The largest order for the Dove was placed by Argentina, which ultimately took delivery of 70 aircraft,[16] the majority of which were used by the Argentine Air Force. 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.[17][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, but did not manage to match this early commercial success for the type.[18]

An early batch of 30 Devons was delivered to the Royal Air Force[19] and they 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.[17][page needed]

The Biafran Air Force operated a single Dove during the Nigerian Civil War; the aircraft was lost, to be subsequently found in 1970 on the premises of a school in Uli.[20] 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.[20]

A Dove served as the first official aircraft of a Paraguayan head of state during the rule of Alfredo Stroessner. It was subsequently replaced by a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.[21]

A few Doves and civilianised Devons remained 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
Dove G-OPLC in 2003
Riley Dove with Lycoming engines and taller swept fin at Long Beach airport in 1987

Carstedt CJ600F stretched cargo conversion of a Dove 1 fitted with TPE331 turboprops, at Dallas Addison in 1975


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

Civil operators

Dove with tail marking HW201 on display at HAL Aerospace Museum at Bengaluru, India
De Havilland Dove of the SAATAS East Indonesia at Darwin Airport, 1980s
 Kenya,  Uganda,  Tanganyika and  Zanzibar
 Southern Rhodesia

Portuguese Angola

Portuguese Cape Verde

Portuguese Mozambique

Transportes Aéreos de Timor CR-TAG Dove at Bankstown Airport in the early 1970s. This aircraft is now in the Darwin Aviation Museum. A Bristol Freighter is also present

Portuguese Timor

 Sierra Leone

 South Africa

 United Kingdom
 United States

Military operators

 Belgian Congo
Laos Kingdom of Laos
 New Zealand
 South Africa
 United Kingdom

Accidents and incidents

Aircraft on display

Dove 1 on display at the Museo Nacional de Aeronautica de Argentina
New Zealand
South Africa
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

Appearances in fiction

A de Havilland Dove featured prominently in the Gavin Lyall adventure novel Shooting Script. G-ARBH features in the 1962 film The Wrong Arm of the Law as the personal aeroplane of Peter Sellers' character Pearly Gates.

Near the beginning of the 1980 film Flash Gordon, travel agent Dale Arden and New York Jets quarterback Flash Gordon board a de Havilland Dove which subsequently crashes into a greenhouse adjacent to the secret laboratory of Dr. Hans Zarkov. The atmospheric disturbances that caused the crash were instigated by planet Mongo's ruler Ming the Merciless. The crash sequence was filmed using a 30-inch-long model Dove diving into a miniature landscape.[102]

In season 2, episode 9 of the British TV series The Crown, Prince Philip is portrayed as flying a de Havilland Dove.

Specifications (Dove 7)

de Havilland Dove Srs 5

Data from Flight International,[10] Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1966–67,[103] Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1967–68[104]

General characteristics


138 mph (120 kn; 222 km/h) economical, 60% power, 8,000 ft (2,438 m) and 8,500 lb (3,856 kg) AUW
94 mph (82 kn; 151 km/h) flaps up
385 mi (335 nmi; 620 km) full fuel, 2,000 lb (907 kg) payload, 45 minutes hold and 5% reserve
295 ft/min (1.5 m/s) with one engine inoperative

See also

Related development



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