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De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd

Designing and producing iconic commercial and military aircraft since 1920

Heritage - Company - De Havilland - logo - thumbnailThe De Havilland Aircraft Company was formed by Geoffrey de Havilland in September 1920 at Hendon before moving almost immediately to Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgeware.  Financial support came from George Holt Thomas, the founder of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco).

Early Years

Despite a few early successful single and two-seat military biplane designs de Havilland became increasingly frustrated with the Air Ministry's procedures so he decided to concentrate on commercial aircraft.

Often referred to as ‘The DH Enterprise’, the company quickly expanded its engine and propeller production becoming a major supplier to a network of aircraft producers as well as establishing manufacturing facilities in Canada and Australia in the late 1920’s. 

In 1925 the company designed and started production of the very successful Moth series of light aircraft which brought it financial stability.  A number of iconic aircraft followed such as the DH Dragon and DH Dragon Rapide before World War II saw a return to military types with the DH Mosquito which proved to be one of the fastest and most successful fighter bombers of the era.  Its high performance also suited it to an unarmed, high-altitude reconnaissance role.

1930-1952

By 1930 De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited had established Hatfield as its main manufacturing facility alongside the newly constructed A1 Trunk Road.  Other factories supported its war effort, most notably at Leavesden and Witney in Oxfordshire.

During 1940 the company expanded even further with the acquisition of Airspeed Limited which operated under its own identity producing aircraft such as the Oxford, Horsa glider, Ambassador and Consul.  Eventually in 1951 Airspeed Limited merged fully with The De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited.

Over the years De Havilland, the company and de Havilland, the family faced many set backs.  In 1946 the founder’s eldest son Geoffrey de Havilland Junior lost his life whilst carrying out speed trials in the DH108 Swallow, a tailless swept wing aircraft.

Only 2 years later however, company Chief Test Pilot John Derry is widely believed to have been the first British pilot to exceed the sound barrier in the DH108. Danger was evident in the life of a test pilot and Derry himself was to lose his life in a crash at Farnborough Air Show in 1952 whilst displaying a DH110 Sea Vixen.

DH106 Comet

The company suffered its biggest set back with one of its greatest technological advances, the DH106 Comet.

The worlds’ first jet airliner suffered a series of crashes between 1952 and 1954 resulting in the grounding of the aircraft and allowing the US Boeing Company to capture the valuable Trans-Atlantic market.

Metal fatigue, a new problem for aircraft construction, was found to be the cause and although Comet returned to service in 1958, the impetus had been lost.

De Havilland continued to produce innovative designs such as the three-engine DH121 Trident before finally becoming part of Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1963.

Company History
1920 De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited
1963 Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited
1977 British Aerospace
1999 BAE Systems
 
De Havilland Aircraft (See AirCo for early ‘DH Types’)
1909 De Havilland Biplane No. 1 1932 DH84 Dragon
1910 De Havilland Biplane No. 2 1933 DH85 Leopard Moth
1922 DH27 Derby 1934 DH Technical School TK1
1922 DH29 Doncaster 1934 DH86 Express
1922 DH34 1934 DH87 Hornet Moth
1922 DH37 1934 DH88 Comet racer
1922 DH52 Glider 1934 DH89 Dragon Rapide
1923 DH50 / 50a / 50j Giant Moth 1935 DH Technical School C TK2
1923 DH53 Humming Bird 1935 DH90 Dragonfly
1924 DH42 Dormouse 1936 DH92 Dolphin
1924 DH42A & B Dingo 1937 DH Technical School TK4
1924 DH51 Airdisco 1937 DH91 Albatross
1925 DH54 Highclere 1937 DH93 Don
1925 DH56 Hyena 1937 DH94 Moth Minor
1925 DH60 Cirrus Moth / DH 60 Genet Moth 1938 DH Technical School TK 5
1926 DH66 Hercules 1938 DH95 Flamingo
1927 DH61 Giant Moth 1940 DH98 Mosquito & Sea Mosquito
1927 DH71 Tiger Moth racer 1943 DH100 Vampire & Sea Vampire
1928 DH65 Hound 1943 DH113 Vampire Night Fighter
1928 DH75 / 75a Hawk Moth 1944 DH103 Hornet & Sea Hornet
1929 DH67 / Gloster Survey 1945 DH104 Dove / Devon / Carstedt CJ600
1929 DH77 lightweight fighter 1945 DH115 Vampire Trainer
1929 DH80 / 80A Puss Moth 1946 DH108 Swallow
1931 Cierva C.24 2 seat autogiro 1949 DH106 Comet
1931 DH60G Moth / Moth Major 1949 DH112 Venom & Sea Venom
1931 DH60M Metal Moth 1950 DH114 Heron
1931 DH72 Canberra (Built by Gloster) 1951 DH110 Sea Vixen
1931 DH81 Swallow Moth 1962 DH121 Trident
1931 DH82 Tiger Moth 1962 DH125
1932 DH83 Fox Moth