de Havilland DH.50

The de Havilland DH.50 was a 1920s British large single-engined biplane transport built by de Havilland at Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgware, and licence-built in Australia, Belgium and Czechoslovakia.

A DH.50J of Qantas.
Role Transport biplane
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight 30 July 1923
Introduction 1923
Retired 1942
Primary users Qantas
Imperial Airways
Number built 38


In the early 1920s, Geoffrey de Havilland realised that war surplus aircraft would need replacing, so his company designed a four-passenger-cabin biplane, the DH.50, using experience gained with the earlier de Havilland DH.9. The first DH.50 (registered G-EBFN) flew in August 1923 and was used within a few days by Alan Cobham to win a prize for reliability during trial flights between Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Only 17 aircraft were built by de Havilland; the rest were produced under licence. The different aircraft had a wide variety of engine fits.

In 1924, Cobham won the King's Cup Race air race in G-EBFN averaging 106 mph (171 km/h). Cobham made several long-range flights with the prototype until he replaced it with the second aircraft. The second aircraft (registered G-EBFO) was re-engined with the Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar engine and was designated the DH.50J. Cobham flew the aircraft on a 16,000 mi (25,750 km) flight from Croydon Airport to Cape Town between November 1925 and February 1926. The aircraft was later fitted with twin floats (produced by Short Brothers at Rochester) for a survey flight of Australia in 1926. On the outward flight from England to Australia, Cobham's engineer (A.B. Elliot) was shot and killed when they were overflying the desert between Baghdad and Basra. He was replaced by Sergeant Ward, a Royal Air Force engineer who was given permission to join the flight by his commanding officer. Also in 1926, a DH.50A floatplane was used in the first international flight made by the Royal Australian Air Force. The Chief of the Air Staff, Group Captain Richard Williams, and two crew members undertook a three-month, 10,000 mi (16,093 km) round trip from Point Cook, Victoria to the Pacific Islands.[1]

Licence production

The aircraft was popular in Australia and de Havilland licensed its production there, leading to 16 aircraft being built. Qantas built four DH.50As and three DH.50Js, Western Australian Airlines built three DH.50As, and Larkin Aircraft Supply Company built one DH.50A.[2] SABCA built three DH.50As in Brussels, Belgium and Aero built seven in Prague, then in Czechoslovakia.[3] The British-built QANTAS DH.50 (G-AUER/VH-UER) was modified in Longreach, Queensland, to suit the Australian Inland Mission as an aerial ambulance. The aircraft was called Victory by the Rev. J Flynn and was the first aircraft used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.


  • DH.50 : Single-engined light transport biplane.
  • DH.50A : Powered by one 240 hp (179 kW) Siddeley Puma inline engine.
  • DH.50J : The Australian-built Qantas fleet were powered by one 450 hp (287 kW) Bristol Jupiter Mk IV radial engine. Other radial engines were fitted in other aircraft in the DH50J series.[4]


  • Australian Aerial Services Ltd
  • Holdens Air Transport
  • Iraq Petroleum Transport Company Ltd
New Zealand
United Kingdom
  • Air Taxis Ltd
  • Brooklands School of Flying Ltd
  • Imperial Airways Ltd
  • North Sea Aerial and General Transport Company Ltd
  • Northern Air Lines Ltd


Data from Jackson, 1987, p. 190[5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: four
  • Length: 29 ft 9 in (9.07 m)
  • Wingspan: 42 ft 9 in (13.03 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 0 in (3.35 m)
  • Wing area: 434 ft2 (40.32 m2)
  • Empty weight: 2,253 lb (1,022 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,900 lb (1,769 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Siddeley Puma inline piston engine, or Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar radial., 230 hp (172 kw)


See also

Related lists



  1. Stephens 2006, pp. 39–41.
  2. Wilson 1994, p. 216
  3. Cook 1997, p. 21.
  4. Gunn 1985
  5. Jackson 1987, p. 190


  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. Orbis Publishing. (part work 1982–85)
  • Crook, John (1997). Air Transport the First Fifty Years. The Archive Photographs Series. Stroud: Chalford. p. 21. ISBN 0-7524-0790-2.
  • Gunn, John (1985). The Defeat of Distance: Qantas 1919–1939. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. ISBN 978-0702217074.
  • Jackson, AJ (1973). British Civil Aircraft since 1919. 2. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-10010-7.
  • Jackson, AJ (1987). De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 (Second ed.). London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-802-X.
  • Stephens, Alan (2006) [2001]. The Royal Australian Air Force: A History. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 39–41. ISBN 0-19-555541-4.
  • Wilson, Stewart (1994). Military Aircraft of Australia. Weston Creek: Aerospace Publications. p. 216. ISBN 1875671080.
  • "A New De Havilland Commercial Aeroplane". Flight. XV (32): 473–477. 9 August 1923.
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