The Dove was Britain's first successful postwar civil aircraft, and one of the few successful Brabazon Committee projects.
The Brabazon Committee was established during WW2 to define requirements for British postwar civil aircraft. While the government established committee was responsible for a number of failures such as the Bristol Brabazon, its studies also resulted in the highly successful Vickers Viscount (described elsewhere) and the de Havilland Dove.
The Dove was developed in response to a requirement for a small feederliner for UK and Commonwealth domestic services. The resulting aircraft featured new versions of the Gipsy Queen engine, a raised flightdeck and separate passenger cabin and all metal construction. The first DH.104 Dove flew for the first time on September 25 1945.
Steady sales success as a regional airliner and corporate transport (particularly in the US) was boosted by significant military orders (RAF versions were known as the Devon, Royal Navy aircraft the Sea Devon).
The Dove remained in production until the mid 1960s (by which time it was a Hawker Siddeley product), and a number of variants were built. These were the initial Series 1, the executive interior Series 2, the military Series 4, the Series 5 with greater range and more powerful engines, the Series 6 (and 6A for the US) executive version of the Series 5, Series 6BA with more powerful engines, Series 7 (Series 7A for the US) with more powerful engines and raised Heron style flightdeck, and Series 8 (8A or Custom 800 in the US) with five seat interior.
In the USA Riley Aeronautics offered conversions of the Dove with two 300kW (400hp) Lycoming IO720 flat eight piston engines. The conversion is known as the Riley 400, and aside from the engines, customers could fit a swept back tail, a new instrument panel and a steel spar crapped wing. The first Riley 400 flew in 1963.
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