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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 21st, 2023, 2:57 am
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De Havilland DH.86 Express

Following on from the DH.84 Dragon, the DH.86 was de Havilland's largest "Moth".

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In 1933 de Havilland designed the DH.86 for Australia, to be the final link in the chain of the Imperial Airways route between the UK and Australia. The aircraft was designed and built in only 4 months, with the first flight in January 1934. Unfortunately this rapid development would lead to fatal problems with the design.
Carrying 10 passengers, a single pilot and a radio operator seated behind, the Australian representatives required that the aircraft receive additional fuel tankage and most significantly, a 2-pilot cockpit for their long flights. Consequently only 4 aircraft were built with the Dragon-style nose, the prototype being rebuilt and all subsequent aircraft fitted with a lengthened side-by-side cockpit. Interestingly de Havilland did not change the designation of the new version, only refering to them as DH.86 single pilot or DH.86 two-pilot. Although finanially the aircraft performed well, quickly obvious was poor directional stability, especially with aircraft reaching its rear ballance limits, with several crashes due to loss of control.
In 1936 several small modifications, including a minor change to the cockpit glazing, led to production changing to the DH.86A model, but the stability issues remained.
Finally in 1937 modifications to the tailplane and the addition of "Zulu shield" auxiliary fins cured the DH.86's woes and the final aircraft were assembled as the DH.86B. All DH.86A's were modified to this standard. Production ceased in 1937 with a total of 62 aircraft being manufactured.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 21st, 2023, 3:35 am
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de Havilland DH.86 in UK service

Although designed for Australia, British companies were the main customer for the DH.86.

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The prototype first flew on 14 January 1934, and differed from the production aircraft by the fitting of novel curved undercarriage spats. All production aircraft were instead fitted with slab-sided spats, which would also become the standard for the later DH.86 Dragon Rapide. With the Australian requirement for a two-pilot cockpit, the prototype was rebuilt to become the prototype for the revised production.
Three other single-pilot aircraft were built, with Railway Air Sevices using two for their cross-Channel service. RAS's fleet eventually included both single and two-pilot aircraft. This aircraft was the last remaining single pilot machine, remaining in service until 1948.
Hillman's Airways operated 3 DH.86's, but in 1935 was meged into Imperial Airways. Interestingly these aircraft retained their blue Hillman's colours after the merger, and so became the most brightly coloured aircraft in Imperial's fleet.
Wrightways at Croyden was major operator of de Havilland types, including the DH.86.
The RAF took several aircraft from civilian operators in the late 1930's for use as transports and flying classrooms. L7556 was used by the Air Council of the RAF to inspect Malta in 1938, before returning to more mundane local duties. It was written-off in July 1939.
Even with war in Europe, Imperial Airways continued civil operations in the East. As neutral European nations painted their aircraft to ensure their national identities were obvious to combatant aircraft, for the Imperial service into Hong Kong large union jacks were added to the DH.86's operating between Malaya and Hong Kong to show they were not a part of the Japan-Chinese War.
With war in Europe, many civil DH.86's were impressed into RAF service, particularly for operations in North Africa. The DH.86 was an ideal aircraft to take on the air ambulance role, and some RAF aircraft were seconded to assist the Australians who had formed specific air ambulance units.
Most aircraft did not survive the war, with only a couple surviving, being passed down to lower levels of the aviation industry. The last survivor was written-off in 1958 after being damaged beyond repair in Spain.


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Hood
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 22nd, 2023, 9:16 am
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Lovely work Sheepster, I don't think any period of aviation has ever topped the elegance of the 1930s for good looking paint jobs.

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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 22nd, 2023, 9:46 am
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Australian de Havilland DH.86's

Although QANTAS was the launch customer, the redesign for their two pilot cockpit configurtion meant that others operated them first.

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One of the 3 single pilot aircraft was imported to Australia for Holyman's Airways. Unfortunately after only 3 weeks service the aircraft was lost in Bass Strait while ferrying a spare engine in the cabin, a victim of the DH.86's instability with aft balance. Holyman's fleet later included two pilot DH.86's.
QANTAS received 6 early model DH.86's starting with the 3rd production two pilot aircraft in 1934. Two were sold to India in 1938, but the attrition rate was quite high, with 1 aircraft crashing in 1934, while the other 3 crashed in service during the war.
With WWII the three remaining QANTAS aircraft and the other civil airliners were impressed into RAAF service. The aircraft were initially used as flying classrooms for radio operators. In 1941 an air ambulance unit was formed to support Australian troops in North Africa, and with Japanese action in New Guinea a second ambulance unit was also formed.

de Havilland DH.86 in New Zealand service

The last 3 DH.86's built before production shifted to the DH.86A went to Union Airways in New Zealand.

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Unlike their Australian sisters the NZ aircraft operated safely and successfully until they were impressed into the RNZAF at the start of WWII. They served in training and transport roles within NZ during the war. One aircraft was shipped to Fiji to assist with the NZ military force sent to that country, and was fitted with a bomb rack under the fuselage for anti-shipping patrols.
As the war continued all three aircraft became too damaged, and instead all 3 were canabalised to create a new 4th NZ aircraft that survived until 1946.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 23rd, 2023, 4:08 am
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International DH.86 operators

Several other operators also fielded DH.86's, both early and late model aircraft, before WWII.

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Misr Airlines was founded in Egypt as a "non-Imperial Aiways" regional airline. Four DH.86 and DH.86B aircraft were operated into the post war years operating as far east as Baghdad.
Aer Lingus purchased two DH.86A's second hand in 1936 and 1938, and sold them onwards again in 1946.
Turkey's national airline purchased four of the last DH.86B's built. I can find little record of their histories.
PLUNA in Uruguay was the only American operator of the DH.86, purchasing two aircraft. Although having a striking colour scheme, they also soon disappeared from history.


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Schlemm138
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 23rd, 2023, 2:30 pm
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Lots of Martin P5M Marlins

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Schlemm138
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 23rd, 2023, 2:34 pm
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Non-US Seahawks

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Anakin_art
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 23rd, 2023, 6:22 pm
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Skyraider upgrades

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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 24th, 2023, 4:10 am
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de Havilland DH.90 Dragonfly

Following on from the pressed plywood construction of the DH.88 Comet racers, DH designed their "executive" version of the Dragon family with this new construction technique.

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The DH.90 Dragonfly adopted the two pilot layout of the DH.86, and the same ex-Tiger Moth engines as the DH.84, in two models; the DH.86 and DH.86A, differing only in their engine horsepower. In service use the differentiation was moot anyway, especially post-war, as even higher powered versions of the engines were sometimes fitted during overhauls.
With the fuselages being solid, there was little ability to add doors and windows as with previous Dragon designs, and the only factory modification made to new build aircraft was the potential to add a forward cargo hatch that also removed the starboard forward cabin window. During post-war rebuilds some aircraft had an additional passenger door retrofitted to this position.
de Havilland in Canada imported 7 airframes and assembled them for local use. All these aircraft were fitted with a standard DH seaplane-style fin, although only 1 aircraft appears to have ever been flown on floats.
Production ceased in 1938, but only as DH was committed to the production of so many other types. However the death knell further additional machines came with the use of the production jigs to form anti-invasion road blocks in 1940.

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The prototype first flew in 1935, and performed well in the King's Cup air race in 1936.
A total of 67 aircraft were built, initially their high price led to their being only used as transports for high status individuals, however they soon found their way into air taxi work. With the coming of WWII their niche peformance meant there was little call to impress the Dragonflys.
They did however find their way into para-military roles in the UK, being used as express transports for vital companies. The DH.90 owned by the London Aeroplane Club found itself reverting to de Havilland's where in a camouflage colour scheme it served as a company communications aircraft.
Not suffering from war use, many DH.90's survived into civil service post-war, and with the plentiful supply of engines many continued on into the 1960's still in commercial use.
The 8th aircraft built spent most of its life in Australia, before returning to the UK as G-AEDT in 1963. In 1964 it was further flown to the US, making it probably the DH.90 that has conducted the longest flights. This aircraft is still flying in NZ.
The only other airworthy DH.90 is in the UK, after spent its life in Angola and South Africa.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: FD Aircraft 20Posted: July 25th, 2023, 5:39 am
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de Havilland DH.90 Dragonfly in NZ

NZ was not a major purchaser of DH.90's, but colour schemes of the kiwi aircraft are a little better documented than elsewhere, and of course it is the home of half of the still flying Dragonflys.

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The DH.90's complemented the other single and multi-engined de Havilland light airliners that had fairly well cornered the market in air transportation in 1930's New Zealand.
An enduring NZ aviation mystery, the "Kiwi Rover" was used for air charters, until it disappeared in the mountains of the South Island in 1962. The discovery of a single woman's shoe in 2015 may be all that has so far been found of the ill-fated aircraft.
A new import into the country is the only other Dragonfly still airworthy, operated by the Croyden Aircraft Company, later day de Havilland specialists.

DH.90's in Australia

Six Dragonflys were imported into Australia, andsuffered badly from groundlooping accidents while in service.

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QANTAS received a single new DH.90 for the services between rural towns and cattle station in remote northern Australia, although a second was purchased in 1940. After serious groundloopings in 1947 both unserviceable aircraft were onsold to Cornellan Airways for rebuilding.
After an inordinate number repairs and rebuilds due to goundloopings, VH-UXS found itself modified with an ambulance door and custom spats, as by the 1960's replacement parts were no longer available. The aircraft served as an air taxi from its base at Aero Pelican airfield before being sent to Darwin, where by 1970 it had rotten in the tropical conditions.


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