De Havilland Dragon Rapide
|Dragon Rapide G-ACYR is preserved at the Museo del Air in Madrid.|
|De Havilland had already established a reputation as a major
builder of singled-engined light aircraft such as the Moth and Fox Moth
when, on November 24, 1932, it flew the first prototype of its
twin-engined DH84 Dragon.
A simple wood and fabric six-passenger biplane, the Dragon was powered by two 130hp Gipsy Major engines. Hillman's Airways introduced it on the London to Paris route in April 1933 and eight DH84Ms, also equipped as bombers, were delivered to the Royal Iraq Air Force. The upgraded Dragon II followed in 1934 and 115 aircraft were built in the UK and a further 87 for the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942-43. Several Dragons remain airworthy today, notably in the UK, Irish Republic, Australia and New Zealand.
The DH89 Dragon Rapide was developed from the Dragon and was to become one of the UK's major transport aircraft, with 731 built when production ended in 1946.
The type differed from the Dragon in its tapered wings and streamlined undercarriage fairing. Its larger fuselage could accommodate eight passengers and it was powered by two 200hp Gipsy Six engines.
The first three Rapides were delivered to Hillman's Airways with two going to Railway Air Services. The type proved popular with pre-war airlines and private operators and an improved DH89A was introduced with trailing edge flaps to improve landing performance.
Many British aircraft were impressed into military service in 1939 and did stirling work as a communications aircraft despite looking increasingly archaic in a world of monoplanes. The Royal Air Force ordered 523 aircraft, the Dominie I for navigation training and the Dominie II for transport. Several Rapides are still flying, particularly in the UK.
The DH90 Dragon was a five-seat touring aircraft and 67 were built after the first flight on August 12, 1935. The type certainly looked sporty, mainly due to its streamlined monocoque fuselage, and it was powered by two 145hp De Havilland Gipsy major engines. Several aircraft are still airworthy in the UK, USA and Australia, with others under restoration to fly.