de Havilland DH-104 “Dove”
Twin-engine Low-wing Executive Transport Aircraft, U.K.

Archive Photos 1

de Havilland DH-104 Dove Mk.6 (G-ALFU) on display (c.1994) at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England (35mm photo by John Shupek copyright © 2002 Skytamer Images)

Overview 2

  • de Havilland DH-104 Dove
  • Role: short-haul airliner
  • National origin: United Kingdom
  • Manufacturer: de Havilland
  • First flight: 25 September 1945
  • Status: Limited service
  • Produced: 1946-1967
  • Number built: 544
  • Unit cost: $89,000 (1953), $136,000 (1961)
  • Developed into: de Havilland Heron, de Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover

The de Havilland DH-104 Dove is a British short-haul airliner developed and manufactured by de Havilland. It was a monoplane successor to the prewar de Havilland Dragon Rapide biplane. The design came about from the Brabazon Committee report which, amongst other aircraft types, called for a British-designed short-haul feeder for airlines.

The Dove was a popular aircraft and is considered to be one of Britain’s most successful postwar civil designs, in excess of 500 aircraft being manufactured between 1946 and 1967. Several military variants were operated, such as the Devon by the Royal Air Force, the Sea Devon by the Royal Navy and the type also saw service with a number of overseas military forces.

A longer four-engined development of the Dove, intended for use in the less developed areas of the world, was the de Havilland Heron. A considerably re-designed three-engined variant of the Dove was built in Australia as the de Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover.

Development and Design 2

The development team for the Dove was headed by Ronald Eric Bishop, the creator of the de Havilland Mosquito, a wartime fighter-bomber, and the de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jet aircraft in the world. It had been developed to meet the Type VB requirement issued by the Brabazon Committee. In concept, the Dove was developed to be the replacement of the prewar de Havilland Dragon Rapide. It was also required to be competitive with the large numbers of surplus military transports in the aftermath of the Second World War, such as the Douglas DC-3. Unlike the Dragon Rapide, the Dove made use of a structure entirely of metal. It also featured other innovations of the time, including constant-speed propellers, flaps, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage.

In 1946, aviation magazine Flight praised the qualities of the newly developed Dove, noting its “modernity” as well as the aircraft’s load-carrying capacity, safe engine-failure performance, and positive maintenance features. Considerable attention was paid to aspects of maintainability, many of the components being designed to be interchangeable and easy to remove or replace, such as the rudder, elevator, and power units; other areas include the mounting of the engines upon four quick-release pickup points, the routing of cables and piping, and detachable wings and tail cone. The extensive use of special Redux metal-bonding adhesives reduced the need for riveting during the manufacturing process, reducing overall weight and air-skin friction.

While standard passenger versions of the Dove would carry between eight and eleven passengers, the cabin was designed to allow operators to convert between higher and lower density seating configurations. Features such as a single aircraft lavatory and an aft luggage compartment could be removed to provide for increased seating capacity. Various specialized models were produced for other roles, such as aerial survey, air ambulance, and flying classroom. A strengthened cabin floor structure was used to enable concentrated freight loads to be carried as well. The Dove could also serve as a dedicated executive transport, and in such a configuration it was capable of seating a total of five passengers; the executive model proved to be popular with various overseas customers, particularly those in the United States.

The crew typically consisted of a pilot and radio operator. However, rapidly removable dual flight controls could be installed for a second flying crewmember instead. A combination of large windows and a transparent perspex cabin roof provided a high level of visibility from the cockpit. From a piloting perspective, the Dove was observed for possessing easy flying qualities and mild stall qualities. A TKS anti-icing system was available for the Dove, involving an alcohol-based jelly delivered via porous metal strips embedded on the leading edges of the wings and tail.

Operational Service 2

The Dove first flew on 25 September 1945. In December 1946, the Dove entered service with Central African Airways. Initial production of the Dove was performed at de Havilland’s Hatfield factory, but from 1951 onwards, the aircraft were built at the company’s Broughton facility near Chester. The final example of the type was delivered in 1967. Production of the Dove and its variants totalled 544 aircraft, including two prototypes, 127 military-orientated Devons and 13 Sea Devons.

From 1946 large numbers were sold to scheduled and charter airlines around the world, replacing and supplementing the prewar designed de Havilland Dragon Rapide and other older designs. The largest order for the Dove was placed by Argentina, which ultimately took delivery of 70 aircraft, the majority of which were used by the Argentine Air Force. LAN Chile took delivery of twelve examples and these were operated from 1949 onwards until the aircraft were sold to several small regional airlines in the United States in 1954.

In excess of 50 Doves were sold to various operators in the United States by Jack Riley, an overseas distributor for the type. De Havilland later assumed direct control of U.S. sales, however did not manage to match this early commercial success for the type.

An early batch of 30 Devons was delivered to the Royal Air Force, these aircraft were used as VIP and light transports for over 30 years. The Royal New Zealand Air Force acquired 30 Devons between 1948 and 1954 and these remained in service for VIP, crew-training and light transport duties into the 1970s.

The Biafran Air Force operated a single Dove during the Nigerian Civil War, the aircraft was lost and subsequently found in 1970 on the premises of a school in Uli. A second US-registered Riley Dove N477PM delivered in 1967 to Port Harcourt from Switzerland never reached Biafra because it was stopped by Algerian authorities.

A few Doves and civilianized Devons remain in use in 2011 in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and elsewhere with small commercial firms and with private pilot owners.

Variants 2

  • Dove Mk.1: Light transport aircraft, seating up to 11 passengers. Powered by two 330 hp (254 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Queen 70-3 piston engines. Dove 1B : Dove Mk 1 aircraft, fitted with two 340 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-4 piston engines.
  • Dove Mk.2: Executive transport version, seating up to six passengers. Powered by two 330 hp (254 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-3 piston engines. Dove 2B : Dove Mk 2 aircraft, fitted with two 340 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-4 piston engines.
  • Dove Mk.3: Proposed high-altitude survey version. Not built.
  • Dove Mk.4: Military transport and communications version.
  • Devon C.Mk.1: Transport and communications version for the RAF.
  • Devon C.Mk.2: Transport and communications version for the RAF. Re-engined version of the Devon C.Mk.1 fitted with revised cockpit and two 400 hp (298 kW) Gipsy Queen 175 piston engines.
  • Sea Devon C.Mk.20: Transport and communications version for the Royal Navy.
  • Dove Mk.5: Uprated version of the Dove Mk.1, seating up to 11 passengers, with two 380 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.2 piston engines.
  • Dove Mk.6: Uprated version of the Dove Mk.2, six seat executive transport aircraft, powered by two 380 hp (283 kW) Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.2 piston engines. Dove 6B : Stressed for operations at a maximum weight of 8,500 lb (3,856 kg).
  • Dove Mk.7: Uprated version of the Dove Mk.5, seating up to 11 passengers, fitted with two 400 hp (298 kW) Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.3 piston engines and revised cockpit.
  • Dove Mk.8: Uprated version of the six seat executive Dove Mk.6, fitted with two 400 hp (298 kW) Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.3 piston engines and revised cockpit.
  • Dove Mk.8A: Five seater version of the Dove Mk.8 for the U.S. market.
  • Dove Custom 800: A customized version of the Dove, carried out by Horton and Horton in Fort Worth, Texas. Typically outfitted with removable bulkheads, various custom interiors were available, including airliner-orientated configurations.
  • Carstedt Jet Liner 600: Conversions of the Dove, carried out by Carstedt Inc, of Long Beach, California, USA. The aircraft were fitted with two 605 ehp (451 kW) Garrett AiResearch TPE331 turboprop engines. The fuselage was lengthened by 87 inches to accommodate 18 passengers. Only six aircraft were converted before one aircraft was lost due to a mid-air structural failure.
  • Riley Turbo Executive 400/Riley Turbo-Exec 400/Riley Dove 400: Conversions of the Dove, carried out by Riley Aeronautics Corp. in the United States. The aircraft were fitted with two 400 hp (298 kW) Lycoming IO-720-A1A flat-eight piston engines. Riley conversions were fitted with a taller swept vertical fin and rudder but those retaining the standard DH fin were named Riley Dove 2. During the late 1960s, Riley Aeronautics, located at the Executive Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, did interior refitting work on both the De Havilland Dove and the Heron.

Operators 2

Civil Operators

  • Australia: Airlines of Western Australia, Bay of Plenty Airlines, MacRobertson Miller Airlines, Mandated Airlines, Northern Territory Medical Service, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Southern Airlines
  • Bahrain: Gulf Aviation
  • Belgium: BIAS, SABENA
  • Burma: Union of Burma Airways
  • Chile: LAN-Chile
  • Gambia: West African Airways Corporation
  • Germany: LTU
  • Ghana: West African Airways Corporation
  • India: India Airways (India) Limited, Indian National Airways, Government of Madras
  • Iraq: Iraq Petroleum Company
  • Japan: Nippon Helicopter and Aeroplane, Far East Airlines
  • Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar: East African Airways
  • Netherlands: Martinair (then called Martin’s Air Charter)
  • Nigeria: West African Airways Corporation
  • Southern Rhodesia: Central African Airways
  • Portugal: SATA - Sociedade Açoreana de Transportes Aéreos
  • Portuguese Angola: AERANGOL - Aeronaves de Angola, ETASA - Empresa de Transportes Aéreos do Sul de Angola, SATAL - Sociedade Anónima de Transportes Aéreos
  • Portuguese Cape Verde: ACCV - Aero Clube de Cabo Verde, TACV - Transportes Aéreos de Cabo Verde
  • Portuguese Mozambique: DETA - Divisão e Exploração de Transportes Aéreos
  • Portuguese Timor: TAT - Transportes Aéreos de Timor
  • Sierra Leone: West African Airways Corporation
  • South Africa: Comair (South Africa) operated 2 aircraft, South African Airways
  • Sudan: Sudan Airways
  • United Kingdom: Airviews Ltd., BOAC (for training and communications), Bristow Helicopters, British Midland, British Westpoint Airlines, Channel Airways (scheduled services), Dan-Air (scheduled services), Hunting-Clan Air Transport, Macedonian Aviation, Melba Airways, Morton Air Services, Olley Air Services, Silver City Airways, CAA Flying Unit
  • United States: Air Wisconsin, Apache Airlines, Catalina Airlines, Golden Isles Airlines, Gulf Coast Airways, Illini Airlines, Midwest Air Charter, National Test Pilot School, Statewide Airlines, Superior Airlines, TAG Airlines

Military Operators

  • Argentina: Argentine Air Force
  • Argentine: Coast Guard, Argentine Federal Police
  • Belgian: Congo Force Publique
  • Biafra: Biafran Air Force - One Riley-converted Riley 400 was abandoned at Port Harcourt by Bristow Helicopters at the outbreak of civil war in 1967 and seized by Biafran mercenaries.
  • Brazil:
  • Ceylon: Royal Ceylon Air Force - Six series 5 delivered between 1955 and 1958.
  • Egypt: Egyptian Air Force - Six series 1 delivered between 1947 and 1948.
  • Ireland: Irish Air Corps - 4, one series 1B in 1953, one series 5 in 1959, one series 7 in 1962, and series 8 modified for radio and radar calibration in 1970.
  • Ethiopia: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force - 3, two former Ethiopian government series 1 transferred to air force in 1952 and one new series 7 in 1965.
  • India: Indian Air Force - 20, Indian Naval Air Arm
  • Iraq: Royal Iraqi Air Force - 7 - One Series 1 for the Royal Flight delivered in 1947 followed by six Series 1 in 1948; Royal Flight; No. 3 Transport Squadron
  • Jordan: Royal Jordanian Air Force - 6 - Two Series 1 transferred from Jordan National Airlines, two aircraft intended for Jordan National Airlines converted to Series 5 and transferred to air force, two new Series 7s delivered in 1965. Royal Flight.
  • Katanga: Force Aérienne Katangaise - 6
  • Kuwait: Kuwait Air Force - Two series 5 transferred to the air force in 1962.
  • Laos: Kingdom of Laos Royal Lao Air Force
  • Lebanon: Lebanese Air Force - One series 1 delivered in 1951, a further aircraft on order was not delivered.
  • Malaysia: Royal Malaysian Air Force- 5 - Three series 8 delivered in 1061 followed by two former RNZAF Devon C.1s delivered in 1968
  • New Zealand: Royal New Zealand Air Force - 30 No. 42 Squadron RNZAF
  • Pakistan: Pakistan Air Force - Two, one former Government of Sind series 1 used until 1962, a new VIP series 2 delivered in 1949. No. 12 Squadron
  • Paraguay: Paraguayan Air Force- One former Argentine Air Force series 1 delivered in 1963.
  • South Africa: South African Air Force - Nine series 1 delivered in 1949. No. 28 Squadron
  • Sweden: Swedish Air Force - One Series 1 delivered in 1947 and sold in 1967.
  • United Kingdom: Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Empire Test Pilots’ School, Royal Aircraft Establishment, Royal Air Force - 30 series 4 aircraft as the Devon C.Mk.1 from 1948. No. 21 Squadron RAF, No. 26 Squadron RAF, No. 31 Squadron RAF, No. 32 Squadron RAF, No. 60 Squadron RAF, No. 207 Squadron RAF, Bomber Command Communications Squadron, Coastal Command Communication Squadron, Maintenance Command Communications Squadron, Metropolitan Communications Squadron, Northern Communications Squadron, Queen’s Flight, Southern Communications Squadron, Technical Training Command Communications Flight, Western Communications Squadron, Royal Radar Establishment at Pershore, Fleet Air Arm - Ten former civil aircraft delivered in 1955 as the Sea Devon C.Mk.20, later another three were bought. 781 Naval Air Squadron.
  • Venezuela: Venezuelan Air Force - One former civil series 2A transferred to air force in 1968.
  • Yugoslavia: SFR Yugoslav Air Force - Two former Jugoslav Air Transport series 2B transferred to air force.

de Havilland DH-104 Dove Mk.7 Specifications 2

General Characteristics

  • Crew: two
  • Capacity: eight passengers
  • Length: 39 ft 3 in (11.96 m)
  • Wingspan: 57 ft 0 in (17.40 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 4 in (4.06 m)
  • Wing area: 335 ft2 (31.1 m2)
  • Empty weight: 6,325 lb (2,869 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 8,950 lb (4,060 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × de Havilland Gipsy Queen 70 Mk.3 6-cylinder in-line inverted air-cooled engine, 400 bhp (289 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 230 mph (200 knots, 370 kph)
  • Cruise speed: 187 mph (163 knots, 301 kph) at 8,000 ft (2,440 m) (econ cruise)
  • Stall speed: 74 mph (64 knots, 119 kph)
  • Range: 880 mi (765 nm, 1,415 km)
  • Service ceiling: 21,700 ft (6,610 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,135 ft/min (348 m/min)


  1. Shupek, John. The Skytamer Photo Archive, 35mm photo by John Shupek, copyright © 1994 John Shupek
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. De Havilland Dove

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