De Havilland DH-89 Dragon Rapide
From Scramble - The Aviation Magazine
|De Havilland Dragon Rapide|
|Role||Passenger (civil), training and communications (military).|
|First Flight||17 April 1934|
|Entered Service||July 1934|
|Length||10.51 m||34 ft 6 in|
|Wingspan||14.63 m||48 ft 0 in|
|Height||3.096 m||10 ft 3 in|
|Wing area||31.6 m²||340 ft²|
|Empty||1,460 kg||3,230 lb|
|Loaded||2,490 kg||5,500 lb|
|Maximum takeoff weight||2,385 kg||5,259 lb|
|Capacity||8 passengers (civil versions)|
|Engines||two De Havilland Gipsy Six|
|Power||150kW (each)||200hp (each)|
|Maximum speed||253 km/h (at 300 meter)||157 mph (at 1,000 feet)|
|Operational range||920 km||573 miles|
|Service ceiling||5,090 m||16,700 ft|
|Rate of climb||4.3 m/min||867 ft/min|
With the experience he had gained in both his previous DH.84 and DH.86 designs, A.E. Hagg of De Havilland decided to produce a design in which he combined the best of both worlds. His new DH.89 grossly had the dimensions of the DH.84 but with tapered wings, faired-in undercarriage and more powerful, Gipsy Six engines. Because of the new engines Hagg initially called his design Dragon Six, but this was soon dropped in favour of Dragon Rapide, or, as it was soon to be called, Rapide. The prototype of the new DH.89 (6250), with B-class registration E.4, made its first flight from Hatfield on 17 April 1934. After the maiden flight, De Havilland’s test pilot H.S. Broad was very satisfied with the characteristics of the new plane. Thanks to its more powerful engines the Rapide could accommodate up to eight passengers and was slightly faster than the Dragon (132 mph against 109mph.) The new design was what you could call an instant success, and more and more orders were noted. Even, as soon as the Rapide had received its Certificate of Airworthiness, the prototype was sold. As HB-APA it soon after flew for the Ostschweizer Aero Gesellschaft in St.Gallen, Switzerland. A special, long range, version of the Rapide was built for the famous London-Melbourne race. This DH.89, ZK-ACO ‘Tainui’ (6259) gained the sixth place in the handicap race, and became fifth in the speed race.
The success of this machine attracted even more potential customers. Rapides were delivered to airlines all over the world. More than a dozen British operators used the Rapide, the most important of these were Hillman’s Airways with seven, and Railway Air Services with eight specimen. Other customers could be found in countries like Canada, Dutch East Indies (KNILM), Egypt (Misr), India, Italy, Kenya, Rhodesia, Romania, Singapore, Spain (LAPE), Switzerland, and Turkey (DHY) . From the sixtieth production aircraft, G-ADWZ, several modifications were introduced. Lengthened rear cabin windows, a landing light in the nose, thicker wingtips, a re-arranged cabin interior and a cabin heating system, were from that time standard. In November 1936 small split flaps on both sides of the engine nacelles were mounted. This modification gave a true improvement in landing characteristics and was so important that De Havilland decided to change the aircraft’s designation into DH.89A. Most DH.89s were brought up to the A standard afterwards. A grand total of 205 Rapides were built at Hatfield in the pre-war years. The designation DH.89B was to be used for former military Rapides, or Dominies, as they were called in the service.
DH.89 in pre war Dutch service
In 1934 the Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea Petroleum Maatschappij (NNGPM) or Dutch New Guinea Petrol Company, had been founded to investigate the possibility of oil exploration in the, at that time, Dutch colony New Guinea. As there were hardly any maps of the territory, it was decided to start aerial mapping. The assignment to do this was given to the KNILM, the Koninklijke Nederlandsch Indische Luchtvaart Maatschappij, a daughter of KLM. KNILM, for this purpose, started their own ‘Fototechnische Dienst’ (Photographic Service), led by mr. J. Hermanides. The aircraft type that was initially selected, the Fokker F.VIII, proved to be too expensive, while its American counterpart, the Ford Trimotor, was also tested but was found to be unreliable(!). The KNILM’s final choice was the DH.89 Rapide, which was not only reliable, but also affordable and could be obtained at short notice. Three aircraft of the type were ordered in the spring of 1935. To build up some experience on the type, Rapide G-ADDE was hired from Aberdeen Airways Ltd. During July and August of that year KLM crews practiced flying G-ADDE, which was, for the time, affectionately called ‘t Viooltje’ (Little Violet). On 4 September 1935 the first two KLM machines, PH-AKU (6296) and PH-AKV (6292) were delivered from Hatfield. The third Rapide, PH-AKW (6294) followed two days later. Within a week the KLM Technical Service had installed the aerial cameras in the aircraft and all three were ready to begin their journey to Bandung in Dutch New Guinea on 11 September.
Hazardous journey to the Dutch East Indies
The flight was led by Capt. Cox of the De Havilland company with a mixed British/Dutch crew on all three aircraft. On their delivery flight to Dutch New Guinea the flight of three encountered adverse weather conditions on 20 September. While on their way from Akyab to Rangoon, the aircraft lost each other in heavy thunderstorms. Fortunately Capt. Cox and his crew, Tideman and Brink, in the PH-AKU managed to reach Rangoon safely. They were soon followed the PH-AKW flown by a Dutch crew of Koppen, Meininger and Hegener. The third aircraft PH-AKV, flown by pilot Fulford, co-pilot Vonk and navigator Cope did however not show up in Rangoon. Capt. Cox immediately decided to organise a search party. The crews of PH-AKU and PH-AKW took off again, but they were frustrated by the still foul weather. They returned to Rangoon without a trace of Fulford’s PH-AKV. What they did not know was that Fulford had been able to make a safe precautionary landing. During the thunderstorm the fuel consumption had increased immensely. So finally fuel shortage forced him to land on the beach of Hangui, south of Bassein. As there were no telephones or telegraphs in that remote area, Fulford had to draw the attention of a ship that passed by. He was picked up and transported to the nearest telegraph station, Ngaputaw. He could then finally send a message to his colleagues in Rangoon, that his crew and he were safe, and that PH-AKV was intact. They were, of course very much relieved and immediately sent out a rescue plane with drums of gasoline. On 23 September PH-AKV safely showed up in Rangoon. Five days later the three ship formation continued their trip. On 1 October 1935 they passed through Batavia, arriving in Bandung the same day.
Aerial mapping over New Guinea
In the next days the three aircraft were fully serviced by KNILM technicians and their registrations were changed into PK-AKU, PK-AKV, and PK-AKW. The Dutch registrations were, by the way, not cancelled before 24 January 1936! The journey to their final destination, the expedition’s base camp at Babo, was a long one, and was split into several legs. The three aircraft left for the first leg to Surabaja on 8 October 1935. The final leg was too long for the Rapides so it was decided to load them aboard the KPM steamer S.S. ‘Baud’ in Makassar on the Isle of Celebes. On 24 October the planes were unloaded at Babo and towed to the airfield. Within days the Rapides started their operations. But the tropical conditions gave NNGPM serious headaches. The support airfields on the coral island of Jefman, and near Seroei on Japen island were soon flushed away by the torrential showers of the rainy season. On 7 March 1936, Rapide PK-AKW overturned while landing at Babo. The aircraft was heavily damaged and written off. Pilot Tideman and his crew suffered only minor injuries. In April of the same year a Sikorsky S-38 amphibian was sent to Babo as a replacement for the unfortunate Rapide.
Returning to Batavia
By November their job was finished and the PK-AKU and PH-AKV were shipped back to Batavia, on board S.S. ‘Op ten Noort’. After a full overhaul at Tjilitan, both aircraft were used by the KNILM in the Dutch Indies archipelago. On 16 August 1938, while on an aerial mapping mission to Celebes, PK-AKU suffered from an engine failure. Despite the fact that pilot Fritz and photographer van der Putten threw everything out of the plane that was not absolutely essential for flight, the Rapide kept losing altitude. It forced the pilot to land on a beach near Ketapang. In this landing accident the aircraft’s wings broke off, and during later inspection at Surabaja, PK-AKU was declared written off. The remaining Rapide, PK-AKV, survived until the Japanese attack on the Dutch East Indies. It was provisionally repaired after it was hit during a Japanese fighter attack on 26 January 1942, causing a hole in a wing spar. After a flight to Andir, a thorough inspection revealed that one of the control cables had almost been cut by a bullet. The aircraft was still under repair at Andir, when the Dutch surrendered to the Japanese invaders on 8 March 1942. The further history of PK-AKV is unknown, the aircraft possibly demolished by the authorities or lost during the hostilities.
The Rapide in British military service
In response to the British Air Ministry’s Specification G.18/35 for a twin engine coastal surveillance aircraft, De Havilland decided to produce a military version of the Rapide. In 1935 the prototype, K4772, was thoroughly tested but its competitor, the AVRO 652 Anson, was chosen instead. Other countries were not influenced by this decision, and the Rapide was chosen by the Spanish Government for policing duties in the Spanish Sahara, by the Imperial Iranian Air Force, and by the air force of Lithuania. But not all was lost, as in 1938 the Air Ministry ordered two Rapides, P1764 and P1765, as liaison aircraft for the RAF. Soon De Havilland secured a new order for nine Rapide navigational trainers. These were to be delivered to Airwork Ltd at Shoreham, a civil navigational school, contracted by the Air Ministry in support of the RAF pre-war expansion program. Before the outbreak of war, the Air Ministry issued Specification T.29/38, calling for a dedicated military twin engine navigational trainer. At first three Rapides were ordered and delivered to the RAF as R2485 to R2487 (6445 to 6447) on 28 July 1939. These aircraft were, although fully equipped for radio- and navigational training, still called Rapides. After the outbreak of war, some of the military Rapides as well as several impounded civilian aircraft were used by No. 24 squadron based at Hendon. These aircraft were, until the collapse of France, used as courier aircraft between Britain and the continent.
De Havilland DH.89B Dominie
Two more Rapides, P9588 (6455) and P9589 (6456) were delivered on 21 September 1939. These and the three Rapide trainers that were mentioned before, were used by No. 6 Air Observers’ Navigation School at Staverton. But more aircraft of the type were to follow, as the RAF had ordered 39 trainers in total. In September and October 1939 R5921 to R5925 (6457 to 6461) were delivered, while R5926 to R5934 (6463 to 6471) followed in the last two months of the same year. In early 1940 the final batch of twenty Rapide trainers was delivered as R9545 (6473) to R9564 (6492). In that same year an order for 150 Rapides was placed. As from January 1941 the name Dominie was introduced for the type, and even the earlier produced Rapide navigational trainers, from P9588 (6455) were designated Dominie Mk.I. These Mk.Is could easily be identified by their typical large round aerial on the back of the fuselage. As trainer aircraft they could accommodate four to five students and an instructor. The radio equipment installed resulted in an increased maximum takeoff weight of 2656 kg., compared to the civil Dragon Rapide. Two wind driven generators provided the electrical power for the electronic equipment. The dedicated liaison version of the Dominie was known as the Dominie Mk.II. After the production of the first 186 Dominies De Havilland decided to concentrate on the production of the well known DH98 Mosquito fighter.
De Havilland Hatfield produced RAF DH.89s
- serial c/n del.
- R2485-R2487 6445-6447 Jul 1939
- P9588-P9589 6455-6456 Sep 1939
- R5921-R9525 6457-6461 Sept-Oct 1939
- R5926-R5934 6463-6471 Nov-Dec 1939
- R9545-R9564 6473-6492 Jan-Mar 1940
- X7320-X7354 6493-6527 Aug 1940-May 1941
- X7368-X7417 6528-6577 Jun-Oct 1941
- X7437-X7442 6578-6583 Oct-Nov 1941
- X7443-X7456 6585-6598 Nov-Dec 1941
- X7482-X7525 6599-6642 Jan-Aug 1942
Dominies instead of busses: Brush Coachworks Ltd.
After De Havilland had decided to concentrate on the production of the Mosquito in their Hatfield plant, further serial production of the Dominie was undertaken by Brush Coachworks Ltd. at Loughborough. After some initial difficulties their first Dominie was delivered in March 1943. As a subcontractor, Brush Coachworks Ltd. built a grand total of 335 Dominies. Of all the Dominies they produced, 51 were constructed as Dominie Mk.II communication aircraft. Many of these Dominies were, together with Ansons and Oxfords, used by the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). In a ten-passenger configuration they were used to ferry aircraft crews between aircraft manufacturers, maintenance units, and operational airbases. In the Royal Air Force Dominies were used by No.2 Electrical & Wireless School at Yatesbury, but also as courier aircraft for No.24, No.271 and No.510 squadron of Transport Command, and No.526 and 527 Calibration squadrons. The Dominie was not only used by the RAF: 64 aircraft of the type were relegated to the Royal Navy, mostly as navigational trainer, but some even as ‘admiral’s barge’ VIP transport. Twenty Dominies, with serials TX300 to TX319 (6958 to 6977) were delivered after the end of World War II. Brush Coachworks Ltd., Loughborough production (335 units)
- Serial c/n del
- HG644-HG674 6643-6673 Mar-Nov 1943
- HG689-HG732 6674-6717 Nov 1943- Apr 1944
- NF847-NF896 6718-6767 Apr-Jun 1944
- NR713-NR756 6801-6844 Nov 1944- Jan 1945
- NR769-NR815 6845-6891 Jan-Jun 1945
- NR828-NR853 6892-6917 Jun-Aug 1945
- RL936-RL968 6918-6950 Sep 1945- Mar 1946
- RL980-RL986 6951-6957 Mar 1946
Dutch DH.89s in wartime service
The ever increasing demand for communication in the final stages of the war prompted the RAF to split up their No.510 Metropolitan Communication Squadron at Hendon. The B flight of this squadron was renamed No.1316 (Allied) Communication Flight on 7 July 1944. The B flight that remained based at Hendon was commanded by res. Capt M. Kamphuis. It consisted of a mixture of several aircraft types: a Lockheed 12A, a Lockheed Hudson, a Proctor, and several Austers. From September 1944 four Brush Coachworks Ltd. built Dominie Mk.Is, NF868, NF869, NF870 and NF877, were delivered to increase the flights strength. Together these aircraft provided a daily air service into Brussels and Eindhoven. No.1316 Flight used more Dominies than the four that were mentioned before. NR731 was delivered on 31 December 1944, replacing NF870 that crash landed on 7 December. NF868, that needed repairs at Brush Coachworks Ltd. was replaced by HG712 in January 1945. But this aircraft was not born for luck, as pilot capt. F.Lutz experienced on 14 May of the same year. During his take off from Eindhoven the aircraft had an engine failure and Lutz had to crash land it, wrecking NF712. Pilot and passengers escaped unhurt. NF712 was replaced by Dominie NR796.
Belgian Dominies too
No.1316 (Allied) Communication Flight was also manned by Belgian military personnel that had fled their occupied home country. They received their own Dominies, the first of which, NR686 (6785), arrived at Hendon on 15 August 1944. It was soon followed by NR688 (6787) on 8 September. Obviously NF868(6739) was used by both Belgian and Dutch crews as it is mentioned in the history of both air forces. It was delivered on 19 September 1944. A fourth aircraft, NR805 (6881) arrived not before the end of the war, on 29 October 1945. The last communication Dominie was NF874 (6745) with code ‘ZA-W’, which touched down at Hendon on 15 January 1946. From February 1945, two RAF DH89A Dominies, NR776 (6852) and NR777 (6853) had already been active at the Belgian Training School. This elementary flight operated from Snailwell, and later Bottisham. All seven Dominies mentioned here were sold to the new Belgian Air Force in September 1946. For their individual fate, see below.
Immediate post war period in Holland
In the war, Holland’s infrastructure had been heavily damaged, and that was why the Dutch Government decided to set up an interior aerial network. The purpose of this network was to supply transport facilities for both mail and official personnel and others that were considered as such by the Government. The Dutch Ministry of Transport and Energy decided that two institutions were to co-operate in this project. The air services were to be scheduled by the Rijks Luchtvaart Dienst or RLD, the Dutch ‘Civil Aviation Authority’. The KLM was made responsible for the actual flying and maintenance of the aircraft involved. Not surprisingly these aircraft were four Brush Coach Works Ltd. built Dominies. These were four of the 100 Dominies in total that, although ordered by and destined for the RAF, were never delivered thanks to the end of the war. At the De Havilland Repair Unit in Whitney, these aircraft were converted from RAF interior into standard civil Dragon Rapide layout. In September 1945 the first two Dominies were delivered: PH-RAA (6890) which had been destined to become RAF NR814, while PH-RAB (6891) should have become NR815. They were both registered to the Ministry of Transport and Energy on 19 September. To emphasise their official function the title ‘Regeringsvliegdienst’ (Government Flight Service) was painted on both sides of the fuselage.
Setting up an interior aerial network
Already on 26 September KLM captain van Ulsen made the first return flight to Maastricht in the PH-RAA. From that day on, this track, with a stopover at Eindhoven was flown three times daily. Two more Dominies arrived in October: PH-RAC (6893) and PH-RAD (6895). This enabled the RLD to expand their services to the north and east of Holland. On 3 September, Hans Plesman (son of KLM founder Albert Plesman) made the first flight from Amsterdam to Eelde, with a stopover at Leeuwarden. This service too, was flown three times daily. The first of a twice daily service between Amsterdam and Twente was flown on 17 October with captain Carabain at the controls. As the main roads and bridges in Holland had provisionally been repaired, there was no longer need for aerial postal transport. The last mail service was flown on 31 December 1945. In contrast, the demand for passenger transport had only increased. As an interim solution, the Ministry of Transport and Energy decided to hire two Dominies from the military. The LSK Dominie NR731 was registered as PH-RAF in January 1946, followed by fellow NF869 which became PH-RAE on 16 March. In May of the same year both aircraft were returned to the LSK, where they were now given a Dutch military serial. Dominie PH-RAE became V-3 ‘Gelderland, while PH-RAF became V-4.
Withdrawal of the Dominies
During 1946 the KLM gradually took over the Government passenger services, replacing the Dominies by their own Dakotas. The four Ministry of Transport and Energy owned Dominies were cancelled from the Dutch register on 6 May 1947. With some British assistance the aircraft were sold to East African Airlines Company Ltd. in Kenya. PH-RAA became VP-KEA, PH-RAB became VP-KEB, and PH-RAC and PH-RAD received the registrations VP-KEC and VP-KED. In the following years the primitive conditions for airline operations in Africa took their toll. Between 1950 and 1954 three of the aircraft were written off. Only VP-KED survived, probably helped by the fact that it did not stay in Kenya for long. The Dominie was already sold to the Israeli Air Force in May 1951. It was registered as 1306 in air force service. After two and a half years of military service, on 27 November 1953, the aircraft was sold to Arkia as 4X-AEI. During the following major overhaul Arkia technicians decided to combine parts of 4X-AEI with that of fellow Dominie 4X-ACU. The resulting composite aircraft was given the identity of 4X-AEI. As such it was sold to Great Britain in 1955. Unfortunately it was written off at Fairoaks in December 1958.
Renaissance of a truly Dutch Air Force
After No.1316 (Allied) Communication Flight was disbanded in May 1946, its aircraft were released by the British for use by the Dutch ‘Lucht Strijdkrachten’ (LSK) or Aerial Forces. The aircraft of the former No.1316 Flight were supplemented by a number of Austers from No.6 (Dutch) Auster squadron. On 17 June 1946 this new unit, the No.1 Transport Vliegtuigafdeling (Transport Aircraft Department) or No.1 Transva was officially formed at Valkenburg airbase. The units new commander was major J.N.Mulder. The Dominies received Dutch national insignias and their camouflage was replaced by silver coloured paint. Their RAF serials were changed from NF877 into the Dutch serial V-1, named ’Limburg’, and from NR976 into V-2 ‘Zeeland’. After their use by the Government Flight Service Dominie PH-RAE became V-3 ‘Gelderland, while PH-RAF became V-4. The Dutch, for obvious reason, soon nicknamed the aircraft ‘dominee’ (reverent). In the period of 1946 to 1950 severe winter conditions occurred frequently and in those periods the LSK Dominies provided the aerial connection between Leeuwarden and the Isles of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.
Soon after the declaration of independence of Israel, the inhabitants of the young state experienced that they were not welcome. They encountered serious hostilities from their neighbours, the Palestine people. In the summer of 1948 the situation had deteriorated so much that the United Nations decided to send negotiators. As a result, a request was sent to the British BOAC, to provide their aerial transport. But as the political situation was very tense, it was decided that no Arab, British, or Jew crewmembers were to take part in this operation. For this reason BOAC contacted KLM. The company was asked to organise the operation and provide Dutch crews for the British aircraft. Five De Havilland Dominies, coming from BOAC subsidiaries were selected for the job. G-AGWP (6918) and G-AGWR(6917) came from Morton Air Services. And Air Enterprises sent G-AFMJ(6436), G-AKOB(6492), and G-AKNX(6629). To emphasise their neutrality, they were painted white overall, with their British registration on the side and United Nations tail numbers 1 to 5. To fly these aircraft, KLM had relieved two Dakota captains from their daily routine, Henk Nijdam, and Herman Bolte, who was in charge of the operation. Three other pilots, Bob van Hoek, Dick Ranke, and Frits van (Vianen, had graduated from the RLS, the Rijks Luchtvaart School only immediately before. In fact they had just gained ten hours of flying experience on the Dominie in the United Kingdom, the absolute minimum to get their type rating. Despite the long journey, only two of the Dominies, G-AGWP and G-AKOB were equipped with extra fueltanks. Communication was rudimentary, only Nijdam’s and Bolte’s aircraft had simple HF radios.
Flying for the United Nations
Next day, 3 September, the ground technicians borrowed a spray gun from Air France, and the British registrations were covered up, and replaced by large UN letters. It took three days before, finally, the local ‘Head of Flight Operations UNO’, capt. de Angelis, arrived. He had things in mind for the Dominies, very different from the planned short local flights. He wanted to set up a daily route from Beirut to Cairo to Alexandria and back. But the Dominies were not capable to perform these flights over open sea. Fortunately Bolte and his team succeeded to convince de Angelis of this fact. On 7 September a telegram was sent to the UN headquarters in Paris, stating that only two of the five aircraft are equipped with long range tanks and radio. The others were not useful. Much to their dismay, two more Dominies, arrived within hours. These were two of the aircraft that were loaned to the UN by the Dutch Government. Two of the No.1 TransVa aircraft of the Luchtstrijdkrachten, had received a temporary civilian registration. V-1 became PH-VNA, and V-2 was registered as PH-VNB, both written in to the ‘State of the Netherlands’ They were also painted white and carry UN numbers 6 and 7. These Dominies were flown by Mas Jelier, Wim de Jong and capt. Krouwel. Significant for the (lack off) organisation was the fact that the Dutch ran out of money early in September. They had to borrow cash through mediation of Air France to pay for their hotel. In the period from 15 to 30 September a number of flights was made with the long range Dominies, G-AGWP and G-AKOP. On 22 September Bolte flew a remarkable return flight from Beirut into the heavily defended city of Jerusalem. The new UN negotiator, Ralph Bunche was his passenger, and on the return flight they transported a passenger, who later turned out to be someone who had been sentenced to death, both by the Arabs and the Israelis. The Dominie flights were dubbed ‘cream runs’ for flights with VIP’s, while the Americans carried out the ‘milk runs’ carrying mail.
Almost disastrous return flight
The whole project was cancelled by the end of September and the return flight scheduled for 1 October. The return flight was again a tricky one, thanks to the limited range of five of the seven aircraft. So ‘Head of Flight Operations UNO’, capt. de Angelis thought of a plan, to station a navy ship halfway between Cyprus and Rhodes. Unfortunately the promised ship stayed in the harbour and with only four gallons of spare fuel in the tanks Rhodes was reached. It was a ‘close one’ The uneventful return flight from Rhodes to Athens, Brindisi, Rome, Nice, and Marseille took three days. But the return from Marseille was a different story: After take off of the first five Dominies, Bolte discovered that his spark plugs needed a change, so he told Nijdam, who was also still on the ground, to take off and lead the flight to Paris. Bolte would come later, on his own. When he was finally in the air he discovered five Dominies circling over Lyon. He managed to arrange them into formation heading north, and finally discovered that Nijdam was missing.. Through the heavy clouds they could not discover where they were. Finally fuel shortage forced them to land on a runway near a village with a big cathedral. It turned out to be the small airfield of Dreux, 70 km. west of Paris. Again there was enough fuel left to fill up a cigarette lighter! The Dominie crews spent the night in the local hotel, after they had convinced the owner that KLM Paris would pay the bill. Through the telephone they found out that Nijdam was already in the French capital, unaware of the whereabouts of the rest of the group. Members of the local flying club arranged a fuelbowser truck next morning and on 6 October Amsterdam was reached, at last! Two days later the British Dominies were returned to their home country. The other two aircraft of No.1 TransVa of the Luchtstrijdkrachten, PH-VNC and PH-VND were never sent to Palestine, although they had already been painted white and had received tail numbers 8 and 9. Both these and the aircraft returning from their adventurous enterprise in the Middle East later took up their former Dutch military registration again. Two of the Dominies, V-3 and V-4 were withdrawn from use on 23 January 1952.
TransVa becomes No.334 squadron
Belgian Dominies over the bush
Compared to Holland relatively many Dominies were taken up in the Belgian civilian register. The type was rather popular in the, at that time, Belgian colony Congo. Unfortunately not many survived their days in Africa, either as result of primitive circumstances, or of hostilities, for which the continent is, still, infamous. The most obvious victim of violence was Dominie OO-ITI (6913), that was destroyed by the guns of a United Nations SAAB J29 Tunnan at Kolwezi airfield, on 29 December 1962. This former RAF NR849, was sold to Air Taxis Ltd. at Croydon as G-AGZO, in 1948. After a few months at Rousseau Aviation in Dinard, France it went to Belgium in November 1962. Its new owner, mr. R. van Risseghem Lint, of Antwerp, intended to use it in Congo, but within one month after its arrival there, it was destroyed. The Air Congo Division of CFL took delivery of Dominie OO-CFI (6932) on 5 August 1948. It was later passed on to SABENA, at Leopoldville, that operated OO-CFI until December 1950. The aircraft was then sold to DETA of Angola as CR-LCK. But the main player in the field of airline operations in Congo was Air Brousse SPRL, based at Leopoldville. From 1955 they operated several Dominies, of which OO-CMS (6902) was one of the first to be delivered. This former RAF NR838, was also part of the Railway Air Services fleet at Speke, as G-AHGG, before it was sold to Liberian National Airways as EL-AAA. In October 1955 it was sold to Air Brousse.
From South Africa to Congo
Three more Dominies for the Leopoldville based operator arrived from South Africa. The first two of these once belonged to Southern Rhodesia Air Service, Ltd., later Central African Airways. VP-YDE ( 6925) was eventually sold to Commercial Air Services, in Johannesburg, and became OO-CJT on 26 November 1956. The second, VP-YCI (6658) became ZS-DDI, and later OO-CJX of Air Brousse, on 10 November 1959. Number three, an aircraft that flew already in South Africa before the war as ZS-AKT, was impressed by the SAAF, as 1560, in 1940. After the war it became ZS-AKT again, this time owned by African Flying Services Ltd., Grand Central. It was sold to Air Brousse as OO-CJU on 7 December 1957. A fourth Dominie, former RAF X7335 (6508), made a Rhodesian detour. It was delivered to the SAAF as 1354, and through African Flying Services Ltd., Grand Central, this Dominie became VP-YNU of Victoria Falls Airways. On 16 February 1959 it became OO-CJW.
More Dominies for Air Brousse
A former Belgian Air Force Dominie, D4, was used by the Belgian Cogea Nouvelle at Keerbergen from June 1957 to August 1959. As OO-ARN, it served as a support aircraft for the company’s anti-aircraft training activities until it was sold to Air Brousse. It crashed and burned at Luozi, Congo on 20 June 1960. In 1960 another couple arrived in Congo, the first of which, OO-CJE (6918), we have met before. This aircraft is one of the machines that was used in the Palestinian adventure, being at that time, part of the Morton Air Services fleet. The second, OO-CJD (6607), arrived from Scottish Aviation in Prestwick. It was registered to Air Brousse on 15 November 1960. Both OO-CJD and OO-CJE were later sold to Compagnie Generale Aerienne Africain (Cogeair) based at N’Dola, Kinshasa. Most of the aircrafts registrations changed from OO- to 9O-, and later 9Q- prefix as a result of the changing political situation. Their ownership changed from Air Brousse to Cogeair and later AMAMZ at Kinshasa. Eventually OO-CMS, 9O-CJT, 9Q-CJD, 9Q-CJE, and 9Q-CJW were all written off as the result of an accident. What more proof do you need of the harsh African conditions under which the faithful Dominie had to operate?
Dominies for the Belgian Air Force
As mentioned before, several Dominies were flown by Belgian aircrew during World War II, both in the Belgian Training School, as in the Metropolitan Communications Flight. In early September 1946 seven former RAF Dominies arrived at Belgian soil. They were allocated Belgian serials D1 to D7 (although they are, incorrectly, often quoted as D-1 to D-7, with a ‘dash’). The aircraft were operated by 367 Escadrille at Evere until February 1948, when the aircraft were officially transferred to 21 squadron. One Dominie, D6, was damaged during an abortive take-off from Schiphol on 6 October 1947. Both D2 and D4 were operated by the EVS (Elementaire Vlieg School, or Elementary Flight School), the former at Koksijde, the latter at Goetsenhoven. Two Dominies were sold through a public auction on 28 June 1957. The new owner, Cogea Nouvelle SA, at Keerbergen, used OO-ARI and OO-ARN as support aircraft for their activities in the field of anti-aircraft gun training. For this purpose a number of Vickers Supermarine Spitfires were used flying for Cogea from Ostend. OO-ARI was sold to Crewdson Aviation Ltd, Croydon in May 1957, as G-APBN. However already on 29 September of the same year, it was back in Belgium, once more as OO-ARI. In 1958 Cogea sold this Dominie again, this time permanently. It was registered as F-OBIA to Ste.Tunisienne de Reparation Aeronautique et de Construction at L’Isle Adam,Tunis. (operated as Aéro Sahara, Tunis). On 26 October 1960 F-OBIA ground-looped on landing at Mohging, and was possibly not repaired. Serial c/n ex-RAF code remarks D1 6881 NR805 ZC-H w/o 24 March 1953 D2 6745 NF874 ZC-K wfu Goestenhoven 1957 D3 6739 NF868 ZC-I w/o Melsbroek 21 August 1952 D4 6785 NR686 ZC-M to OO-ARN D5 6787 NR688 ZC-N to OO-ARI D6 6852 NR776 ZC-J wfu March 1954 D7 6853 NR777 ZC-K to ZK-SWR
The last Dominie delivered
It was as late as April 1984 when the last Dominie arrived in Holland. This non-airworthy aircraft, F-BCDB (6897) had been acquired by the (then) Aviodome museum, from Jean Salis at La Ferté Alais, France. It was built for the RAF as NR833 in 1945. Fortunately the war had ended by that time, and it was never taken into service. It was sold to Iraqi Airways and became registered as G-AKDW, as the airline was at that time set up by BOAC. Not long afterwards it received an Iraqi registration, YI-ABD. In 1958 the Dominie was sold to the Societe Aero Sud, at Bone in Algeria as F-BCDB. In 1970 it arrived back in France, where the aircraft was stored at Nimes until 1979, when Jean Salis bought it as a source of spares for his own F-AZCA. After arrival in Holland the fuselage of 6897 was restored and put on display in the Aviodome museum at Schiphol. During the restoration the fuselage was painted red and silver, wearing its original registration G-AKDW. In December 1993 the project was swapped with the Mosquito Aircraft Museum, which later changed its name into the De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Museum at London Colney. Seventeen years later still only the fuselage is on display as the aircrafts wings have not been restored as to date.
A photo plane survives
The ‘Luchtstrijdkrachten’, the forces destined to become the Royal Netherlands Air Force withdrew Dominie V-3 in January 1952. It was sold to KLM as PH-TGC, which was later changed into PH-OTA, when the aircraft was used for aerial photography by KLM subsidiary KLM Aerocarto. In 1962 PH-OTA was sold to Aero Ypenburg to do the same job, this time from Rotterdam Zestienhoven airport. General Aviation at Rotterdam was the next owner from 1966, but this company decided to sell the Dominie soon. It was used as a plaything in the children’s playground of aviary Avifauna in Alphen aan de Rijn until it was fortunately salvaged by the Dutch Air Force Museum. It has been fully restored and is on static display at the Military Aviation Museum at Soesterberg in its original former glory as V-3 ‘Gelderland’.
One DH.89 has been saved on Belgian soil, in the Army museum in Brussels. The aircraft is the former RAF R5922 (6458) that became G-AKNV of the Lancashire Aircraft Corporation. On 11 December 1953 it was registered to Republic Air Charters in Ireland as EI-AGK ‘Marian’. Two years later it went back to the United Kingdom, again as G-AKNV. In the same year 1955 it was sold to Belgium as OO-AFG. It was used as a company aircraft by Avions Fairey SA at Gosselies. Its final user was the Centre National de Parachutisme at Wevelgem which acquired the aircraft with its appropriate registration OO-CNP on 10 April 1964. They used it until 1970 when it was stored at its home base. In 1973 OO-CNP was transported to the museum in Brussels and fully restored. A second Dominie, former military D7 (6853) was struck of charge by the Belgian Air Force on 8 July 1955. It went into storage at Antwerp, Deurne airport until 1994, when the aircraft was sold to Ron Sough in the United Kingdom. One year later Sough sold it to a group of Swiss airline captains, led by mr. Benno Tisi. The Dominie was shipped from Southampton to New Zealand, for restoration by the Croydon Aircraft Company, at Mandeville. In 2001 the project was transported to Southair, at Taieri Airport, Dunedin. On 15 May 2006, the aircraft that had been registered as ZK-SWR, made its first post-restoration flight. As the group of owners had plans to fly their aircraft back to Switzerland, ZK-SWR, was painted in Swissair colours. Until now, the lack of financial background has prevented the planned operation.
- Aer Lingus
- Aer Turas
- Air Atlantique Classic Flight
- Alderney Airline
- British European Airways
- Canadian Pacific Airlines/CP Air
- Hillman's Airways
- Jersey Airways
- National Airways Corporation
- Railway Air Services
- DTA Angola Airlines
- United Kingdom
- Belgian Air Force
- Imperial Iranian Air Force
- Iraq Air Force
- Israeli Air Force
- Lithuanian Air Force
- Portuguese Air Force
- Royal Australian Air Force
- Royal Canadian Air Force
- Royal Netherlands Air Force
- Royal New Zealand Air Force
- South African Air Force
- Spanish Air Force