The 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).
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.
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.
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.
|1920||De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited|
|1963||Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited|
|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|