The DH52 was De Havilland’s only Glider project and was specially designed as an entry into the Royal Aero Club’s Glider Competition held at Itford Hill, Sussex in October 1922.
The competition was organised in response to the Daily Mail’s offer of a £1,000 prize for the longest glider flight (greater than 30 minutes) flown in Great Britain.
The DH52 was a single seat high winged glider which featured a 50ft span wing with an Aspect Ratio of 11.4 to reduce induced drag and enhance glide performance. Two aircraft were built for the competition, carrying competition numbers ‘4’ and ‘33’.
Number 4 (named 'Sybilla') was originally fitted with a conventional undercarriage although after initial trials this was replaced with much smaller wheels alongside the fuselage, mounted from the lower fuselage longerons. At the same time, the wing incidence was increased to compensate for the reduce ground angle of the smaller wheels.
The second aircraft, Number 33 (named 'Margon') had both these modifications incorporated from the outset. The fuselage sides and bottom surface were covered in 1mm plywood sheet with a fabric upper fairing whilst the wings were wire braced.
When initially flown on 16th October 1922, inadequate torsional stiffness of the wings resulted in ineffective lateral control although some short flights were achieved for upto 2½ minutes duration.
Number 33 was quickly modified to use wing-warping instead of ailerons but it suffered catastrophic structural failure on launch on 19th October 1922. Although the pilot was unhurt during the crash, no further flying was attempted with either machine.
|Span||50 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||400 lb|
|Number built||Two only: '4' Sibylla, '33' Margon|