The de Havilland aircraft company were founded in 1920 by Geoffrey de Havilland and operated until 1963 before being swallowed by Hawker Siddeley.
They made a huge number of aircraft ranging from single seat bi-planes up to commercial airliners. Their history is celebrated at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum, located at Salisbury Hall, just off Junction 22 of the M25.
One of the most celebrated de Havilland aircraft is the DH.98 Mosquito; a twin engined aircraft made largely of wood, which took on a number of different roles including ground attack, reconnaissance and night fighting.
The de Havilland museum is home to three Mosquitos, one of which is the last surviving prototype.
I do like the yellow undercarriage and the yellow ‘P’ on the fuselage. A Mosquito in this livery would make a lovely radio controlled model.
As well as the aircraft themselves, they also had displays of some of the equipment the aircraft were outfitted with for various missons, such as the “highball” bouncing bomb, along with the frame it would have been attached to.
Some Mosquitos were also fitted with the 57mm Molins anti-shipping gun. It’s a huge weapon looks like the sort of weapon you’d fit to a light tank rather than a fairly light aircraft, but the airframe managed it.
The weapon was actually used against submarines, which means the shell would have to maintain enough velocity through water to penetrate the outer skin of the sub. That’s some impressive firepower!
The Mosquito wasn’t the only aircraft de Havilland built during the Second World War. Though not designed by de Havilland, the team that designed the Horsa glider worked at Salisbury Hall.
Horsas were a towed glider, used by the parachute regiment, to deploy troops, supplies and even light vehicles or artillery onto the field.
They are built into three sections, with a removal nose and tail for quick unloading. You can see the joint between the nose and this section of the fuselage.
Another interesting WW2 aircraft they had at the museum was the Queen Bee. These were modified Tiger Moths that were used as radio controlled drones for target practice!
I didn’t get any actual photos of the aircraft, but I did get a couple of the controller. I bet it was a fun thing to fly!
The twin boomed Vampire is one of my favourite early jets. The Rhodesian Air Force used them uuntil 1979!
de Havilland also produced a large amount of civilian aircraft. One the museum keeps is this Hornet Moth.
These were initially built as a replacement for the Tiger Moth, but lack of interest from the army meant they were sold to the general public. I think it’s a wonderful little thing that a private owner could have a lot of fun with!
Gyrocopters are weird things. I don’t think I’d trust flying in one.
It wasn’t just small aircraft that de Havilland built for the civilian market. They also built the world’s first airliner; the DH106 Comet.
They also made a few private luxury aircraft. This is how I should be travelling!
The Museum also has a replica of my favourite de Havilland aircraft; the DH88 Comet.
The Comet was designed to race the 1934 MacRobertson air race from England to Australia.
It was nice to be able to get so close to one, and to be able to have a look inside the cockpit. It’s a small space to go all the way to Australia in!
As per usual with my museum posts, there’s a lot on here that I haven’t covered, as I would rather you go and visit the museums yourself rather than just reading about them.
There’s a lot to read and see. We only spent a few hours there but you could happily spend the whole day in there. With it’s central location, I can recommend giving the de Havilland Aircraft Museum a visit!
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By Richard Francis