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De Havilland DH 86 Express



Designed and built in response to an Australian government requirement for a multi-engined aircraft to be used by QANTAS for service across the Timor Sea, between Singapore and Australia, the de Havilland D.H.86 was awarded its Certificate of Airworthiness on 30 January 1934, only four months after a start of work on the project. The aircraft was of wooden construction with fabric covering, and powered by four de Havilland Gipsy Six engines.

The first flight was made on 14 January 1934 at Stag Lane, in the hands of Hubert Broad, and certification trials were conducted at Martiesham. The prototype and two identical aircraft were equipped for single-pilot operation. The latter were used by Railway Air Services from 21 August 1934 on a new Croydon-Birmingham- Manchester-Belfast-Glasgow route. A second crew member (navigator/ wireless operator) was carried, accommodated behind the pilot.


DH86B “Zulu shield”


QANTAS and Imperial Airways required that two pilots should be seated side-by-side, and in August 1934 the prototype re-emerged from the Stag Lane factory with a longer and wider nose to provide the necessary accommodation. The first of 29 production examples was one of four flown by Holyman Airways in Australia, and other operators comprised QANTAS (six), Imperial Airways (five), Jersey Airways (six), Misr Airwork, Egypt (four), Hillman's Airways (three) and Wrightways (one).

A total of 62 DH express airliners were built. Some at Stag Lane, the later ones at Hadfield. Four were single pilot and 28 were two pilot DH86s. Twenty were DH86As, improved with some strengthening following some incidents. Ten built were DH86Bs with the “Zulu shield” additional vertical tail surfaces, giving greater stability.


Three DH86A were impressed from Union Airways by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, equipped as bombers, and operated 1939-44. One (ZK-AHW) was in service with the New Zealand National Airways Corp 1947-48.
DH 86A
Engines: 4 x DH Gipsy-Six Series 1
Wingspan: 64 ft 6 in / 19.66 m
Length: 46 ft 2 in / 14.07 m
Max speed: 166 mph / 267 kph
Crew: 2
Passengers: 12


Engines: 4 x de Havilland Gipsy Six inline, 149kW / 200 hp
Take-off weight: 4649 kg / 10249 lb
Empty weight: 2943 kg / 6488 lb
Wingspan: 19.66 m / 64 ft 6 in
Length: 14.05 m / 46 ft 1 in
Height: 3.96 m / 12 ft 12 in
Wing area: 59.55 sq.m / 640.99 sq ft
Max. speed: 267 km/h / 166 mph
Cruise speed: 229 km/h / 142 mph
Ceiling: 5305 m / 17400 ft
ROC: 925 fpm.
Range: 1287 km / 800 miles
Fuel consumption @ cruise: 40 gal/hr total
Pax cap: 12
Crew: 2



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