The DH51 was a 3-seat touring aircraft built at De Havilland's Stag Lane factory in the 1920s. It was intended for private owner use and was a conventional two-bay biplane of wooden construction with a plywood-covered fuselage.
The prototype DH51 (G-EBIM) flew on 1st July 1924 with a 90 hp RAF 1A engine which proved problematic as it was a single-ignition system and because of this it was refused a UK certificate of airworthiness. As a result it was re-engined with a twin-ignition 120hp Airdisco air-cooled V8 engine, receiving a Certificate of Airworthiness in October 1924.
The prototype was later further modified to have single-bay wings and re-designated as the DH51A. It was subsequently exported to Australia in 1927, where it was fitted with floats in 1929 and again re-designated as the DH51B. Sadly, the DH51B capsized in Sydney Harbour and was scrapped in 1931.
Two further aircraft (G-EBIQ and G-EBIR) were built, fitted with the 120hp ADC Airdisco engine. Unfortunately, this engine was considerably more expensive than the original RAF 1A engine and this is probably why only these further two aircraft were produced.
G-EBIQ took part in various air races and was used throughout Britain before being scrapped in 1933.
Meanwhile, the third aircraft (G-EBIR) was exported to Nairobi in 1926, becoming VP-KAA named ‘Miss Kenya’ and was the first aircraft of Kenyan registry.
Surprisingly, VP-KAA survived until July 1965 when it was flown back to England in an RAF Blackburn Beverley. It was rebuilt at Chester and passed to The Shuttleworth Trust at Old Warden, where it survives as the oldest De Havilland machine still flying.
Variants & Numbers built
|DH51||Three aircraft G-EBIM (initially 90hp RAF 1A engine), G-EBIQ, G-EBIR (120hp Airdisco)|
|DH51A||G-EBIM fitted with 32ft span single-bay wings for racing purposes; exported to Australia as G-AUIM|
|DH51B||G-AUIM converted to floatplane configuration in 1929; scrapped 1931|
|Powerplant||One 120 hp Airdisco engine|
|Span||37 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||2,240 lb|
|Capacity||Pilot (aft) and two passengers (forward) in open cockpits.|
|Maximum Speed||107 mph|
|Cruising Speed||90 mph|
|Range||340 miles - 4 hours at 85mph|
|G-EBIR||Ex-VP-KAA ‘Miss Kenya’ preserved in flying condition at The Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden. The oldest De Havilland-built aircraft still flying.|