De Havilland D.H.51


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De Havilland D.H.51

Following the D.H.37 two-seat tourer of 1922, de Havilland's next aircraft in this category was the de Havilland D.H.51. However, in this case economy of operation was a criterion and the design was developed around the 67kW R.A.F.1A engine, of which warsurplus supplies were available at knockdown prices.

First flown in July 1924 by Geoffrey de Havilland, the D.H.51 proved to be satisfactory, but since the engine did not have dual ignition a Certificate of Airworthiness was refused. Ten hours of airborne testing would have been required with the single-ignition RAF1A, but de Havilland decided that the cost of this was not justified. As things turned out this was probably a major error of judgement, since once certificated the type might have gone on to achieve the fame which was to come later with the D.H.60, the first of the Moths.

It was decided to re-engine the D.H.51 with an Airdisco engine and this move, although conferring considerably enhanced performance, took the aircraft well outside the economic operating bracket for which it was designed. As a result, only three were built; the first two enjoyed reasonably long and active lives, being written-off in 1931 and scrapped in 1933 respectively, but the third, built in 1925 and shipped to Kenya, became the first aircraft on that country's civil register. Dismantled during the war, it survived to fly again and now, after several rebuilds, is again back in the country of its birth, maintained by the Shuttleworth Trust at Old Warden as the oldest airworthy design of the de Havilland Aircraft Company.

De Havilland D.H.51A three-view drawing (700 x 660)

 ENGINE1 x Airdisco inline piston engine, 89kW
  Take-off weight1016 kg2240 lb
  Empty weight609 kg1343 lb
  Wingspan11.28 m37 ft 0 in
  Length8.08 m27 ft 6 in
  Height2.97 m10 ft 9 in
  Wing area30.19 m2324.96 sq ft
  Max. speed174 km/h108 mph
  Ceiling4570 m15000 ft

phil cheers, e-mail, 11.11.2009 19:45

I noticed this aircraft with more than a passing interest-I was head of the team which carried out the initial restoration at BAe Chester,when it arrived in bits in 1978 (I think!) We remade all the fabric covering on the fuselage,wings,tailplane,fin,and all the control surfaces.Air Commodore Alan Wheeler made the first post-restoration flight from Chester,and also ferried it to Shuttleworth,where it still lives.I`ve never seen it since then,or even had a flight in her...shame really.


ian bryant, e-mail, 05.08.2008 21:44

Could you say if the 3 view drawing of the DH51 is available to purchase - is the 700 x 660 the size of the drawing of the resolution of the pic please ?...your help would be much appreciated



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