De Havilland D.H.108


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De Havilland D.H.108

Built to Air Ministry Specification E.18/45, the de Havilland D.H.108 was developed to conduct research into the characteristics of swept wings in support of the D.H.106 Comet and D.H.110 programmes. The first prototype, a standard Vampire fuselage mounting a mid-set wing with a sweep angle of 43, and with elevons which acted as elevators and ailerons (there being no horizontal tail surfaces), was a low-speed test vehicle with a maximum speed of 451km/h. It had antispin parachutes in wing-tip containers and fixed Handley Page leading-edge slots, both precautions against loss of lateral control at low speeds, and was first flown by Geoffrey de Havilland Jnr on 15 May 1946 at Woodbridge, Suffolk. A modified 45 swept wing with powered flying controls and automatic slats was fitted to the second prototype, which was flown in June 1946 and was intended to explore the transonic area of the flight envelope. Sadly, the aircraft broke up in flight on 27 September and Geoffrey de Havilland Jnr was killed. A third D.H.108, powered by a 1701kg thrust Goblin 4 engine, made its first flight at Hatfield on 24 July 1947 piloted by de Havilland's new chief test pilot, John Cunningham. Identified by its longer, pointed nose and more streamlined cockpit canopy, this aircraft became the first in Britain to exceed the speed of sound, flown by John Derry on 9 September 1948. Earlier, on 12 April 1948, the same pilot had flown it in a successful attempt on the 100km closed-circuit speed record, raising this to 974.02km/h. It was destroyed in a fatal crash on 15 February 1950, as was the first prototype on 1 May.

De Havilland D.H.108A three-view drawing (800 x 612)

 ENGINE1 x de Havilland Goblin 3 turbo-jet, 14.7kN
  Take-off weight4064 kg8960 lb
  Wingspan11.89 m39 ft 0 in
  Length7.47 m25 ft 6 in
  Wing area30.47 m2327.98 sq ft
  Max. speed1030 km/h640 mph

bon que que, e-mail, 03.09.2013 20:09

well I really don't know that much about this aircraft but if u have more info on it email me ..please


Lou Juggins, e-mail, 23.10.2012 16:41

I've just realised I posted this comment pretty much word for word two years ago. Sorry!
I have to say the comment about Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown R.N. reminded me he called the DH108 "a killer". A pity aero flight at Farnborough either didn't know his feelings, or chose to ignore them, because this would have prevented the loss of Eric Genders, and his predecessor as head of aero flight, who was killed just a couple of months before. Incidetally Eric Genders had to bale out over the Mediterranian Sea in WW2, and spent 22 hours swimming to shore. What a man!


Lou Juggins, e-mail, 23.10.2012 16:24

I was a scientific Assistant at RAE Farnborough in 1950 and was walking near the main runway when I spotted a DH108. I knew the history of the aircraft, and had seen one flying, but this one was stationary and very close so I just stood gaping at it. After a short while I noticed the pilot staring at me, and being just 16, I gave hime the thumbs up. To my amazement he waved back and a few seconds later he took off. About 15 minutes later the plane crashed killing the piolot, Sqadron Leader Eric "Jumbo" Genders. I found out that evening and have never forgotten that moment.


bombardier, e-mail, 28.10.2011 10:44

This was a Vampire crossed with a Me-163.


chris, e-mail, 23.01.2011 21:49

For insurance purposes I would be interested in what the value of Geoffrey de Havilland Jnr flight gear might be? Would anyone know where a good source of this information might be?



Chris, e-mail, 17.09.2010 00:53

I'm sorry... I once waved to a F-16 pilot and he waved back! I always thought pilots where super people, but on the inside there just normal people, when ever I see an aircraft flying in near proximity to me I always wave, just in case they might wave back....


Lou Juggins, e-mail, 14.03.2010 18:43

I arrived to work at RAE Farnborough aged 16 in February 1950 about a week after the fatal crash on 15th February and heard a lot about this aircraft. In May I was walking towards the perimeter track by Farnborough's south gate when I saw a DH 108 waiting to take off. I gave the pilot a wave and to my astonishment he waved back and gave me a thumbs up. Squ. Leader Eric "Jumbo" Genders then took off and 15 minutes later suffered a fatal crash at Hartley Wintney. When I heard the news later that day I felt some sort of personal loss and it had a profound affect on me.


paul scott, e-mail, 22.10.2009 17:33

Stating the obvious - a lot like the Me 163 Komet. Nice try though.


Leo Rudnicki, e-mail, 23.08.2009 17:48

Excellent book. Brown was saved once again by his "small physical stature" because his head wasn't beaten against the canopy during "critical Mach" antics.


David, e-mail, 23.08.2009 11:56

If this fascinates and interests then see also the book "Wings on my Sleeve" by Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown


bigfoot, e-mail, 01.02.2009 19:23

very informative ,those realy where the days !when the test pilot would jump into the office wearing a suit andtie ,insstead off a G suit, that was flying by the seat of your pants.


mikewight, e-mail, 22.01.2009 02:09

Probably the most imformative article on these aeroplanes is entitled "Beyond the Barrier", by Philip Birtles published in the UK magazine "Aeroplane Monthly" for August 1973. It gives a detailed history of all three A /C, including the accidental breaking of the so called sound barrier during one of the test flights.


DLB, e-mail, 12.09.2008 23:59

The late Geoffrey deHavilland Jnr might have a few comments.
This aircraft bit almost all who flew it. Some badly.


Marc, e-mail, 19.02.2008 14:29

A fantastic aircraft for its day - a vision of things to come, as were so many British aircraft, sadly the country's technical prowess and world-beating otential was underrestimated by our dour, ill-informed politicians. Churchill was a great man, the same couldn't be said of his son-in-law, Duncan Sandys, the 1950's defence minister, who dismissed technology in favour of one just ill-fated idea that missiles would replace all air /armed systems /combat aircraft - the Americans in Vietnam proved his selfishness was wrong.


adil, e-mail, 12.04.2007 14:46

to whom it may concern
i adil fully interested in aviatioin but i want more information abt D.H 108 proto type jet aircraft.
thanking u



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