De Havilland DH114 Heron prototype G-ALZL
De Havilland DH114 Heron prototype G-ALZL on 12th May 1950 showing original tailplane with no dihedral.

The De Havilland Aircraft Company DH114 Heron was a four-engined, short and medium range commercial airliner which was also used as a military communications aircraft and executive transport.


The type was effectively an enlarged version of the De Havilland DH104 Dove, powered by four Gipsy Queen 30 engines.

De Havilland DH114 Heron 1 G-ANNO
De Havilland DH114 Heron 1 G-ANNO of Jersey Ferry Airlines at Bembridge IoW in June 1972.

The DH114 Heron 1 prototype (G-ALZL) was first flown by Wing Commander Geoffrey Pike at Hatfield on 10th May 1950, before appearing in public at the SBAC Airshow at Farnborough in September that year.


Initial flying was carried out with a tailplane having no dihedral, this being replaced by a dihedral unit after some 180 hours of test flying. This model featured a fixed nosewheel undercarriage and a total of seven examples were built at Hatfield before production was transferred to Chester.


De Havilland DH114 Heron 2 G-ANPAAn air to air photograph of DH114 Heron 2 G-ANPA the fourth production Heron 2.


The aircraft accommodated two pilots and upto 14 passengers (this increasing to 17 if no toilet was fitted).


The prototype DH Heron 2 (G-AMTS) was also built at Hatfield and flew for the first time on 14th December 1952 with production work being undertaken at Chester. It featured a number of improvements including a fully retractable undercarriage which increased its top speed.


Inclusive of the production at Chester, 149 Herons were built comprising the prototype, 51 x Series 1 and 97 x Series 2.  These aircraft were designated as construction numbers 10903 for the prototype and 14001 to 14148 for the production units. Despite the comparatively modest number built, the type was very successful in the export market with 70% being exported to operate in 30 countries.


At a time when 4 engine aircraft were still relatively rare, the Heron was well received by flight crews and by passengers who valued the additional safety whilst operating in the more remote locations.


De Havilland DH114 Heron 2 Ghana AF 501
The Heron was used by several nations as a communications aircraft, seen here is Ghana Air Force 501, a DH114 Heron 2.


In the UK, the Heron replaced the De Havilland DH89 Rapide on Scottish Highland and Island services of BEA. Other commercial users included Jersey Airlines, Cambrian Airways and Channel Airways whilst both the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm utilised the aircraft in various guises.  A number were also used as Executive transports by a number of major companies such as Shell, Vickers-Armstrong, Rolls-Royce and Ferranti.


Royal Navy De Havilland DH114 Sea Heron
One of five ex-civilian Heron 2s used by the Royal Navy as the DH114 Sea Heron communications aircraft.


Four VIP aircraft were used by the Queen’s Flight whilst five served as Sea Heron communications variants for the Royal Navy, based at HMS Heron, attached to RNAS Yeovilton.


Later in their operational career, a number of aircraft were also converted to be powered by four 290hp Lycoming IO-540-B1A5 engines and designated as the Riley Heron. Similar conversions were also carried out in Mexico, Australia (Connellan Airways), Puerto Rico (Prinair) and Japan.


De Havilland DH114 Heron VH-CLX Lycoming-powered
Many DH114 Herons were re-engined with Lycoming engines later in their lives. This is VH-CLX of Airlines of Tasmania.


A more ambitious conversion was carried out in the form of the Saunders ST-27 from Saunders Aircraft Corporation of Gimli, Manitoba. The aircraft had a lengthened fuselage for a maximum of 23 passengers, a strengthened wing and two 715 hp P&W PT6A-27 turboprop engines.


A total of 12 ST-27 conversions was completed and the prototype of a further developed ST-28 were built.


Variants & Numbers Built

DH Heron 1 Initial production                                                                                
DH Heron 1B Strengthened wing spar
DH Heron 2 Retractable undercarriage
DH Heron 2A Equipped for US market: one aircraft only
DH Heron 2B Equivalent modifications to Heron 1B
DH Heron 2C Heron 2B with fully feathering propellers
DH Heron 2D Max weight increase to 13,500 lb
DH Heron 2E VIP aircraft, one only
DH Heron C Mk. 3, Mk. 4 Aircraft for RAF Queen’s Flight
DH Sea Heron C Mk.20 Five ex-civilian Heron 2 used as communications aircraft by the Royal Navy



                     (Heron 2 unless otherwise noted)                                                     
Powerplant Heron 1 and 2: Four 250hp De Havilland Gipsy Queen 30 Mk 2
Span 71ft 6in
Maximum Weight     13,000 lb (Heron 2D 13,500 lb)
Capacity  14 to 17 passengers
Cruising Speed 160 mph (Heron 1) – 183 mph (Heron 2)
Range 805 miles

Number built

Production   149 aircraft: prototype, 51 Heron 1, 97 Heron 2



Australian Aviation Museum, Bankstown, New South Wales. Riley Heron. (reported to be moving to Camden, NSW)
Heron 1 Prototype
Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia, Bull Creek. Heron 1 prototype.
Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin, Victoria. Riley Heron.
Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston, Tasmania. Riley Heron.
Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra, Queensland. Riley Heron.
Heron 2C
Preserved at Zawra Park, Baghdad. Probable identity. Iraqi AF.
Heron 2
Preserved at Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum, Sungai Besi / Simpang, Kuala Lumpur.
Heron 1
Classic Flyers Museum, Tauranga.
Heron 2D
Preserved by Flyhistorik Museum Sola in Sola. Marked as LN-PSG.
Heron 1B
Al Mahatta Sharjah Airport Museum, UAE

Heron 2
Sri Lanka Air Force Museum, Colombo-Ratmalana air base.
Heron 2
Sri Lanka Air Force Museum, Colombo-Ratmalana air base. Fuselage only.
Heron 2
Sri Lanka Air Force Museum, Colombo-Ratmalana air base. 
A Sunqvist, Karlsborg. Riley Heron.
Heron 2
Preserved outside former Croydon Airport terminal, Greater London. 
Heron 1B
Preserved by Newark Air Museum, Nottinghamshire.
Sea Heron 2B
Flown out of Jersey by Duchess of Brittany (Jersey) Ltd.
Heron 2D
Preserved by De Havilland Heritage Museum at London Colney.
Sea Heron
Airworthy with Albany Aero Club, Everett-Paine Field, Washington State. Sea Heron. Advertised for sale 2012.


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