This website uses cookies. By navigating around this site you consent to cookies being stored on your machine

De Havilland
DH53 Humming Bird

Designed for the Daily Mail Light Aeroplane Trials of 1923, fifteen examples of the DH53 were built.
De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird unpainted The unpainted prototype DH53 Humming Bird at Stag Lane.
 
The prototype DH53 Humming Bird (G-EBHX) was first flown on 2nd October 1923 and along with its sister aircraft 'Sylvia II' (G-EBHZ) it was entered into the 1923 Daily Mail Light Aeroplane Competition, held at Lympne in order to find the most economical light single seat British aeroplane.
 
Many of the entries were motor gliders but the DH53 was a more 'workman-like' strut-braced, low wing monoplane of conventional proportions, albeit fitted with a low power 750 cc Douglas motorcycle engine.
 
De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird G-EBQP racing De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird G-EBQP racing at Bournemouth.
 
The competition was held in late October 1923 and although the type was not rewarded with competition prizes it demonstrated an economy of 59.3 miles per gallon.  It also showed its strength by performing aerobatic manoeuvres that would surely have been beyond the capability of a number of the other contestants.
 
In 1924, a further 12 aircraft were built at Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgeware, all named DH53 Humming Bird after the prototype with eight of these being delivered to the Air Ministry for trials. 
 
De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird J7325 R33 trials De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird J7325 suspended below airship R-33 for trials.
 
Six aircraft made their public debut in a race at the 1925 Hendon RAF Display whilst the remaining two were used as ‘parasite aircraft’, being launched and recovered from below the Airship R33. The eight RAF aircraft were sold on the civil market from 1927.
 
Of the remaining four aircraft, three were exported to Australia and one for Aero Prague. A final aircraft was produced for an order for Russia.
 
All of the production aircraft were powered by the 698 cc 26 hp Blackburn Tomtit twin cylinder inverted V engine.
 
Alan Cobham successfully flew a DH53 (G-EBHX) to Brussels in 1923 for the Aero and Automobile Show.
Although it was winter-time, Cobham elected to fly solo across the snow-covered fields of Flanders although he was forced by headwinds to abandon the return flight after finding himself in exceptionally low cloud.  After a few minutes he realised that in fact he was in steam having been overtaken by a slow-moving freight train on the rail track he was following.  He abandoned the little aircraft and caught the next train and ferry home!
 
De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird G-EBHX Old Warden The last flying example of the De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird G-EBHX at Old Warden.
 
Sadly, the prototype was lost in a fatal accident at Old warden in July 2012 although images and video footage is still available on the internet. 

Specification

Powerplant Production aircraft: One 26hp Blackburn Tomtit engine
Span 30 ft 1 in
Maximum Weight 565 lb
Capacity Single pilot
Maximum Speed 73 mph
Cruising Speed 60 mph
Range 150 miles

Numbers Built

Number built                       Fifteen                                                            

Survivors

None flying                        
Fuselage of J7326 at DH Museum;
G-EBHX was preserved in flying condition with the Shuttleworth Collection, until an accident in July 2012.