De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapid

The De Havilland DH.89 The De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapid is a 1930s twin-engine short-range passenger aircraft designed as a biplane by the British manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft Company.

The Dragon Rapid was a further development of the DH.84 Dragon, as its engines had proved too weak. Thus, in the event of a motor failure, the altitude could not be maintained. The DH.89 used new six-cylinder Gipsy Six engines rated at 200 hp instead of the Gipsy Major engines, which produced only 130 hp. In addition, more passengers could be transported in the enlarged cabin, and larger wings were also used. The designation of the type was initially DH.89 Dragon Six. Still, at the end of 1934, the then managing director of De Havilland, Francis St Barbe, initiated a change to Dragon Rapide to make the higher performance and speed already recognisable in the name. Later, it was shortened to Rapide.

The first flight took place on 17th April 1934. Aircraft were delivered from July 1934. Changes to the flaps led to the DH.89A version in 1937, some of which were delivered with Gipsy Queen engines. A military transport intended for export was the DH.89M.

In 1936 a DH.89 flew Spanish General Franco from the Canary Islands to Spanish Morocco. This was the beginning of the subsequent Spanish Civil War.

Around 200 examples were built and used in civil aviation until the beginning of the Second World War. Over 500 more aircraft powered by Gipsy Queen engines were built during the war, some at other plants, such as Brush Electrical Engineering Company. The DH.89B Mk.1 was used to train navigators, and the Mk.2 served as lightly armed reconnaissance and liaison aircraft. The aircraft was designated de Havilland Dominie in the Royal Air Force.

A total of 731 units had been built by July 1946. Some machines are still flying today. At the Imperial War Museum Duxford, two DH.89s offer sightseeing flights over the airfield. Two more aircraft are still flying in New Zealand. The only flying Dragon Rapide in Germany is at the Flying Museum in Großenhain.

De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapid

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