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1920s & 1930s: de Havilland DH.89 Dominie

The de Havilland DH.89 was developed in 1933/34 as a light general purpose transport aircraft. Up until 1939, 206 examples of the DH.89A aircraft were built, and were known as the Dragon Rapide. From 1939 on, a further 522 DH.89B's were built for the RAF, primarily for ferrying personnel, and they were known as the Dominie (from 1941). A number of DH.89B's were also used as air ambulances.

 

The Dominie served with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm (66), and seven also served with the Belgian Air Force. Some were also transferred to the USAAF in Europe; nine to the RNZAF, 18 to the SAAF and others to Allied air forces for communications duties.

DH89All of the DH89b aircraft used by the RNZAF were eventually used as airliners in the New Zealand domestic air routes route during the 1950's and early 1960s.

A number of Dragon Rapides were operated during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe. They included two ex-Latvian and two ex-Lithuanian aircraft originally captured by the Soviet forces, and then by the Luftwaffe.

The aircraft features two 200 hp Gipsy Queen III engines, providing a maximum speed of 253 km/h, and a cruising speed of 212 km/h.

ZK-AKY is based at Old Mandeville Airfield, near Gore, which is also the home of the Croydon Aircraft Company, New Zealand's premier de Havilland aircraft restorers.

DH89The rebuild of this (at left) ex-Belgian Air Force DH.89 Dominie (military Dragon Rapide) was completed by the Croydon Aircraft Co & Southair Ltd in 2006. As the owners all worked for Swissair at one time or another, the aircraft is in the colours of one of the three Dragon Rapides operated by that airline between 1937 and 1954.

With a range of 850km the aircraft carried five passengers and were used mainly on the routes from Zurich to Berlin and Zurich to Vienna via Munich.

All three were sold in 1954 and continued to fly passengers and operated so called “Keuchhustenfluege" flights to cure whooping cough in children—climbing the aircraft to approx. 10,000 feet helped relieve the symptoms. These flights brought many sick children, from less affluent families, in contact with aviation for the first time.

Two of the Swissair aircraft were finally used for firefighter training in the 1960’s while the remaining aircraft was sold to Germany.

 


The view from the pilots cockpit.

 


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For more info see:

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