Designed by A. E. Hagg to an Air Ministry
specification for a transatlantic mailplane,
the de Havilland D.H.91 Albatross
was aerodynamically and aesthetically
one of the outstanding commercial
aircraft of the pre-war era. Of wooden
construction, it introduced the ply-balsaply
sandwich fuselage structure later
used so successfully for the Mosquito,
and had a one-piece wing similar to that
of the Comet. Powerplant consisted of
four de Havilland Gipsy Twelve engines
driving constant-speed propellers, and
the landing gear main units were electrically
retractable. The prototype, initially
with twin fins mounted at mid-span on
the tailplane, was flown for the first time
at Hatfield on 20 May 1937. Flight test results
indicated that the vertical tail surfaces
were unsatisfactory, and the redesigned
tail unit incorporated endplate
fins with unbalanced rudders and trim tabs.
Problems with the landing gear retraction
system resulted in a wheels-up landing
for the first prototype on 31 March
1938, and a structural weakness in the
rear fuselage was revealed when the
second prototype broke into two a few
months later when landing during overload
trials. Effective modifications were
soon evolved and the two prototypes
were repaired and used experimentally
by Imperial Airways. However, their
range made them particularly useful for a
shuttle service between the UK and Iceland,
and they were impressed for RAF
use with No. 271 Squadron in September
1940. Five Albatrosses, with reduced
capacity, additional cabin windows and
slotted flaps replacing the split trailingedge
flaps, were delivered to Imperial
Airways between October 1938 and
June 1939. Providing accommodation
for 22 passengers and a crew of four,
they saw wartime service on the Bristol-
Lisbon and Bristol-Shannon routes until,
with their numbers reduced to two by
enemy action or accidents, the survivors
were scrapped in September 1943.
| ENGINE||4 x de Havilland Gipsy Twelve piston engines, 391kW|
| Take-off weight||13381 kg||29500 lb|
| Empty weight||9630 kg||21231 lb|
| Wingspan||32.00 m||105 ft 0 in|
| Length||21.79 m||72 ft 6 in|
| Height||6.78 m||22 ft 3 in|
| Wing area||100.15 m2||1078.00 sq ft|
| Max. speed||362 km/h||225 mph|
| Cruise speed||338 km/h||210 mph|
| Ceiling||5455 m||17900 ft|
| Range||1674 km||1040 miles|
|A three-view drawing (1024 x 702)|
|Matthew Kitchen, mattkit.kitchen73=gmail.com, 15.09.2012|
You'd think they would've preserved the last remaining "Albies?" (I called them Albies for short") It's too bad it wasn't the case.
|peter, peteraldridge6253=inbox.com, 12.02.2012|
Miles closed down when power cuts caused the heating to fail in their store rooms. Their supply of aircraft grade plywood was ruined by cold and damp.
Also, the prototype Marathon crashed when the pilot ( Bastable ? ) forgot to re trim the tailplane.
Miles aerovan was the forerunner of the Short Skyvan
Handley Page produced the Marathon for a while, but it was in competition with the Dh Heron and not very sucessful.
Back to the albatross, I believe the wings were very rigid, giving an uncomfortable ride.
|Laurie Harris, ldhnewquay=hotmail.com, 02.01.2012|
I've often heard the story that the famous Lockheed Constellation design was based on the DH Albatross. Not sure how true that was but they do have remarkable similarities.
|Fiona, flea.rowe=dsl.pipex.com, 27.07.2011|
My Father flew on Albratross F class and he was on a record time flight over the Channel as a crew member on 25th July 1939. I was also named after the aircraft the Fiona!
If anyone has a photo of the Fiona I would be very interested.
|Peter Hubbard, pejayhub=aol.com, 06.03.2011|
In belated answer to Tracy's question,; Yes, they did have a toilet. See the excelant write-up in the 'Flight' archive of 1937
|Stacy, msstacy13=yahoo.com, 11.10.2010|
I'm currently writing a novel concerning a WWII war correspondent who flies to Lisbon in Sept 1941 in one of these, so I'm wondering... Did it have a toilet? That was, apparently, a 4&1/2 hour flight.
|Bruno Pacifico, brunopacifico1212=hotmail.com, 03.04.2010|
Gostei muito do artigo, e acho uma pena que essa bela aeronave não exista mais. eu cheguei a penbsar que esse avião ainda existia, por causa da foto colorida ainda existente. Eu cheguei a pensar em viajar para Croydon para ir visitá-lo!
|Victor Boyce, vicboyce=juno.com, 08.11.2009|
The Miles Aircraft exported to Australia after WWII were built with wood and Aerolite Urea Formaldehyde Glue. These aircraft fell apart due to glue failure from the heat of Australia. When UF glue reaches a temperature of or about 120°F the glue oxides, looks like brown sugar and fails as a glue. Because of fatal accidents,UF glue has been declared OBSOLETE in the USA And BANNED for aircraft use in Australia. I know, a Miles Gemini was declared unairworthy in my shop at Tamworth N.S.W because GLUE FAILURE.
I was told (I cannot verify)the Miles Aircraft Co. went Bankrupt because of the failure of AEROLITE glue in Miles aircraft, causing them to have STRUCTUAL FAILURE.
1335 Robinhood Lane S.
Lakeland FL 33813
A & P IA USA, AME Canada, L.A.M.E. Australia.
|Trisha, orchardhouse.frost=gmail.com, 22.06.2009|
I have the brass handbell that was used to wake the sleeping passengers from Fortuna that crashed in Shannon (Rineanna). My grandfather was a aviation mechanic and was given the bell after she went down. We are trying to get photos certs etc to go with our little "shrine" to Fortuna, wish us luck
|Bill Bath, billbath=optonline.net, 14.10.2008|
I write a column on the history of aviation for the bi-monthly news letter of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Traders, a non-profit society, and need to include a photo of the Albatross as one of the most graceful airliners of its era. To avoid any inadvertent infringement of copy right may I use the above photo in the heading?
I do the column as a volunteer and am not paid for it.
|Peter Lloyd, pfvll=talktalk.net, 03.09.2008|
David Miles -
Are you a relative of THE Miles, one of the UK's most brilliant aircraft designers?
I have admired him all my life and cursed those bloody stupid Civil Servants and politicians who shut down the British aircraft industry - including the Miles M-52 and, eventually, Miles Aircraft itself. Criminal traitors.
|David Miles, magister29=yahoo.co.uk, 07.02.2007|
I think this site would be improved by a) Giving the names applied by Imperial Airways to each aircraft, e.g.Frobisher, Fortuna, Falcon, etc. and b) quoting all measurements in Imperial as well as metric. I had the privilege - as a boy of 9 - of stepping aboard and looking around "Falcon" in early, 1939.Always interested in aircraft from the earliest possible age, I was so impressed by this advanced and outstandingly beautiful flying machine. The A.W.27 "Ensign", which I was also privileged to look into, was, although impressive by its size, not nearly as beautiful, albeit it was a handsome machine. (Its tyres were taller than I was at the time !)
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?
FACTS AND FIGURES
© The fuselage was made of
laminations of cedar ply and balsa
wood, built as a monocoque in
which the skins bore the load.
© As first built the Albatross had
tailfins inset near the fuselage, but
directional instability saw a change
to more traditional endplate fins.
© Passenger entry was through a door
just 1m tall and the rear
fuselage was particularly cramped.
In general the cabin was noisy and
the ride was uncomfortable.