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De Havilland
DH84 Dragon

The Dragon offered affordable passenger flying to many and opened up air services to outlying communities, particularly in Scotland.
Prototype De Havilland DH84 Dragon E-9 / G-ACAN The prototype De Havilland DH84 Dragon E-9 / G-ACAN
 
The DH84 Dragon twin-engine, six passenger biplane was designed to fulfil the requirements of Edward Hillman, an Essex bus and coach operator.  Hillman Airways had seen tremendous commercial success with the single-engine DH83 Fox Moth during the early part of 1932 and wanted to expand its service to carry larger passenger capacities.
 
Originally designated 'Dragon Moth', the DH84 prototype (E9/G-ACAN) first flew from Stag Lane on 12th November 1932 with the first 4 aircraft being delivered to Hillman and commencing service in April 1933.  Carrying 6 passengers, complete with 20 kg of luggage, the Dragon flew between London and Paris with a fuel consumption of just 13 gallons per hour flying time.
 
Whilst on the ground and during certain maintenance operations, the wings could be folded back allowing for easy accommodation within relatively small hangars.
 
The type was immediately successful and immediately attracted additional orders from Railway Air Services and Jersey Airways.
 
Scottish Dragon operators included Northern & Scottish Airways, Scottish Motor Traction, Aberdeen Airways, Highland Airways and Midland & Scottish Air Ferries. The first air service to be flown by the Irish airline Aer Lingus was by DH84 Dragon EI-ABI ‘Iolar’.
De Havilland DH84 Dragon CF-AVD on floats Canadian De Havilland DH84 Dragon 2 CF-AVD on floats

 

Sixty-two Dragon 1's were built, prior to the introduction of the Dragon 2, with faired undercarriage legs and individually framed cabin windows.  Although predominantly cosmetic, these changes produced another 5 mph on the top speed and allowed for a 250 lb increase in baggage capacity.  More importantly however it also increased the range of the aircraft by an additional 85 miles.
 
Some 115 Dragons were built at Stag Lane, with an additional 87 in Australia. Military users included the RAAF, RNZAF and around a dozen others. Seventeen aircraft were impressed for RAF use during the Second World War.
 
A special aircraft (G-ACCV named Seafarer) was created for Jim Mollinson and Amy Johnson for an attempt on the world long distance record.  Fitted with extra tanks, the aircraft departed Croydon Airport for the United States in June 1933 - Sadly however, they had to make a stop at Pendine Sand in South Wales where the 'strengthened' undercarriage collapsed.  
 
Repairs were soon effected and they crossed the Atlantic in 39 hours before running out of fuel and crash landing in Connecticut.  Both were injured although after a brief period of recuperation they were honoured by a ticker-tape parade through the streets of New York.  Three further attempts were made in Seafarer II (constructed using many of the original parts from Seafarer I) the project was abandoned and the aircraft sold although it did create a new record non-stop flight between Canada and the United Kingdom.

 

De Havilland DH84 Dragon G-ECAN De Havilland DH84 Dragon G-ECAN in the colours of Railway Air Services Ltd.

 

Following World War II the Dragons were quickly replaced and today there are only 3 known airworthy examples still flying. 
In bringing holiday travel within reach and supporting dispersed communities in Scotland, the Dragon filled roles that today are met by low cost airlines with the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 and by smaller types such as the Islander and Twin Otter.
 

Specification

  (i) Dragon 1, (ii) Dragon 2
Powerplant (i) & (ii) Two 130hp De Havilland Gipsy Major 1
Span 47ft 0in
Maximum Weight (i) 4,200 lb; (ii) 4,500 lb
Capacity  Pilot and six to eight passengers
Maximum Speed (i) 128 mph; (ii) 134 mph
Normal Cruising Speed (i) 109 mph; (ii) 114 mph
Range (i) 460 miles (ii) 545 miles

Variants

Dragon 1 Initial Production version, 62 built
Dragon 2 Individually-framed windows, faired undercarriage legs. 140 built, of which 87 built in Australia

Survivors

Flying

Dragon 1
(G-ECAN)
Ex-VH-DHX, VH-AQU Railway Air Services Ltd
Dragon 2
(EI-ABI ‘Iolar’)
Dragon 2 Ex-G-AECZ Colours of Aer Lingus’ first aircraft
Dragon 2
(ZK-AXI)
Ex-A34-68 Reported Airworthy in New Zealand
Dragon 2
(N34DH)
Ex-G-ADDI Oakville, Washington State

Static Display or Museum

Dragon 1
(G-ACIT)
Science Museum store Wroughton, UK
Dragon 1
(VH-SNB)
National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland ex-A34-13, VH-ASK www.nms.ac.uk/flight
Dragon 2
(A34-92)
RAAF Museum, Point Cook, VIC www.airforce.gov.au/raafmuseum

More information

 
 

Please note that the information shown is based on that available at the time of the creation of this web page - If you have any additions or corrections please contact:  Heritage@baesystems.com