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de Havilland Dragon Rapide

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DH.89 Dragon Rapide/Dominie
Type Short-haul airliner
Manufacturer de Havilland
Maiden flight 17 April 1934
Primary user Royal Air Force
Number built 731

The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a British short-haul passenger airliner of the 1930s. Designed late in 1933 as a faster and more comfortable successor to the DH.84 Dragon, it was in effect a twin-engined, scaled-down version of the four-engined DH.86 Express. It shared many common features with the larger aircraft including its tapered wings, streamlined farings and the Gipsy Six engine, but it demonstrated none of the operational vices of the larger aircraft and went on to become perhaps the most successful British-built commercial passenger aircraft of the 1930s.

Development and history

The prototype first flew on 17 April 1934 and 205 were built for owners all around the world before the outbreak of World War II. Originally designated the "Dragon Six" it was first marketed as "Dragon Rapide" although was later just called a "Rapide". With the fitting of improved trailing edge flaps from 1936 they were redesignated DH.89As.

One famous incident involving the use of a DH.89 was in July 1936 when British MI6 intelligence agent, Hugh Pollard, flew Francisco Franco in one from the Canary Islands to Spanish Morocco, at the start of the military rebellion which began the Spanish Civil War. [1]

At the start of World War II many (Dragon) Rapides were impressed by the British armed forces and served under the name de Havilland Dominie. They were used for passengers duties and radio navigation training. Over 500 more were built specifically for military purposes, powered by improved Gipsy Queen engines, to bring total production to 731. Many survivors entered commercial service after the war, and 81 were still flying on the British register in 1958. Dominie production was by both de Havilland and Brush Coachworks Ltd, the latter making the greater proportion.

The DH.89 proved a very durable aircraft despite its relatively primitive plywood construction and many were still flying in the early 2000s. Several Rapides are still operational in the UK and several suppliers still offer pleasure flights in them. 2 Rapides are still airworthy in New Zealand


D.H.89 Dragon Six
Twin engined light transport biplane. First production version.
Improved version, fitted with a landing light in the nose, modified wingtips and cabin heating.
D.H.89A Mk 4
One D.H. 89A aircraft, powered by two de Havilland Gipsy Queen 2 piston engines, fitted with constant speed propellers.
D.H.89A Mk 5
One D.H.89A aircraft, powered by two de Havilland Gipsy Queen 3 piston engines, fitted with variable-pitch propellers.
D.H.89A Mk 6
One D.H.89A aircraft fitted with Fairey X5 fixed-pitch propellers.
Military transport version. Exported to Lithuania and Spain.
D.H. 89B Dominie Mk I
Radio and navigation training version.
D.H. 89 B Dominie Mk II
Communications and transport version.



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Military operators

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Popular culture

A de Havilland Dragon Rapide, the Sky Gypsy, appears in Out of Time, an episode of the BBC Science Fiction television series Torchwood, in which one is accidentally flown through a "transcendental portal" and travels from 1953 over 50 years into its passengers future.

Specifications (Dragon Rapide)

1944 de Havilland DH89a Dragon Rapide 6

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 8 passengers
  • Length: 34 ft 6 in (10.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 48 ft 0 in (14.6 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 3 in (3.1 m)
  • Wing area: 340 ft² (32 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,230 lb (1,460 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,500 lb (2,490 kg)
  • Powerplant:de Havilland Gipsy Six inline engine, 200 hp (150 kW) each


See also

Related development

Related lists



  1. Alpert, Michael BBC History Magazine April 2002


  • Hamlin, John F. The De Havilland Dragon Rapide Family. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2003. ISBN 0-85130-344-7.
  • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft 1919-1972: Volume II. London: Putnam(Conway Maritime Press), 1988.

External links

Template:De Havilland aircraft

cs:De Havilland Dragon Rapide de:De Havilland D.H.89 es:Dragon Rapide fr:De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide ja:デハビランド DH.89 ドラゴン・ラピード no:De Havilland DH 89 Dragon Rapide pl:De Havilland Dragon Rapide pt:De Havilland DH-89 Dragon Rapide fi:De Havilland D.H.89 Dragon Rapide

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "De Havilland Dragon Rapide".