de Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide
The DH89A Dragon Rapide is an all-wood, twin-engine biplane passenger aircraft. The first flight of the prototype was from Hatfield by Hubert Broad on 17th April 1934. The first operator was Hillman Airways from Maylands Airport at Romford, their first aircraft G-ACPM making its debut at Hatfield on 13 July 1934 when Hubert Broad averaged 158 mph in the King’s Cup Air Race, before having to retire due to hail damage.
The Dragon Rapide was developed as a short-range airliner carrying up to eight passengers and capable of making a profit for the operator without subsidy. During the ten years it was in production, 728 were built for commercial and military use, the latter as the Dominie.
By 1942 production at Hatfield had reached a total of 346 Dragon Rapides and Dominies, but space was urgently needed for Mosquito production, so Dominie assembly was taken over by the Brush Coachworks at Loughborough, where a further 346 were built between 1943 and 1945.
Power Unit: Two 200 hp de Havilland Gipsy Six
Wing Span: 48 ft (14.6 m)
All-up Weight (A.U.W): 5,500 lb (2,495 kg)
Max Speed: 157 mph (253 kph)
Cruise Altitude: 16,700 ft (5,090 m)
Range: 573 miles (922 km)
On display at the Museum:
The Museum’s exhibit, registration G-AKDW, was built by Brush at Loughborough as Dominie Mk.I NR833 c/n 6897, and as it was not required for military duties it was delivered to Witney on 13th June 1945 for civil conversion to DH89A Dragon Rapide, achieving its Certificate of Airworthiness on 23rd October.
It was purchased by British Oversees Airways Corporation (BOAC) the same month for lease to Iraqi Airways as YI-ABD, and on return to Britain it was re-registered G-AKDW with BEA on 25th August 1947 for the Highlands and Islands services. On retirement from commercial operations G-AKDW became a company communication aircraft on 30th May 1949 with Shorts at Rochester, who sold it to Avionics at Croydon on 27th May 1958. It was exported to Belgium on 23rd June before it was sold to Aero-Sud in France on 23rd June 1958 and registered F-BCDB on 5th November.
On its withdrawal from service it was stored at the Salis Collection near Paris, and later acquired by the Aviodome at Schipol, Amsterdam, who prepared it for display. However, they were restricted for space in the Aviodome, so the aircraft was displayed less its top wings and lower outer wings. Upon disposal from this collection, due to lack of space, it came back to Britain, and was exchanged for the Museum’s partly restored Be.2e, and arrived on 30th December 1993. This aircraft is now being restored to flying condition.