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The Flamingo

The De Havilland Flamingo

R2764 – ‘Lady of Castledown’

Design and development

The Flamingo was designed by de Havilland, led by their chief designer Ronald Bishop, as a twin-engined civil airliner. It was the first all-metal aircraft built by de Havilland. The metal framework was mostly metal-covered with fabric covered control surfaces. Two pilots were seated side-by-side with a radio operator behind them in the cockpit, with the cabin accommodating 12-17 passengers. It featured a retractable undercarriage, slotted flaps and variable pitch propellers, and was considered a highly promising sales prospect for the de Havilland company capable of competing with the American Douglas DC-3 and Lockheed Model 10 Electra.

The first prototype flew on 22 December 1938,�powered by 890hp (660kW) Bristol Perseus engines. With these, performance was excellent with a takeoff at maximum weight in 750ft (230m) and the ability to maintain height or climb at 120mph (190km/h) on a single engine. Testing was successful, with the Flamingo being granted a certificate of airworthiness on 30 June 1939, with an initial production run of twenty aircraft being laid down.

 

Operational service

DH.95 Flamingo G-AFYH of British Air Transport at Redhill airfield, Surrey, in June 1953 DH.95 Flamingo G-AFYH of British Air Transport at Redhill airfield, Surrey, in June 1953

The prototype was delivered to Jersey Airways in 1939 for evaluation and became the first revenue-earning Flamingo. It was later transferred to RAF duties. A further order from Jersey was frustrated by the outbreak of war, but with BOAC denied the credit needed to buy the Douglas DC-5 it ordered eight Flamingoes instead. The BOAC Flamingoes were based in the Middle East throughout the war. A further five aircraft were delivered to the RAF and one to the Fleet Air Arm. Flamingoes were mostly withdrawn from service by 1950, the last was scrapped in 1954.

A single military transport variant was built to Specification 19/39 as the DH.95 Hertfordshire. It had oval cabin windows instead of rectangular ones, and seating for 22 paratroopers. A proposed order for 40 was cancelled to leave de Havillands free to produce Tiger Moth trainers. The sole Hertfordshire crashed with the loss of 11 lives at Mill Hill, Hertfordshire on 23 October 1940, apparently due to jamming of the elevator.

DH 95 in RAF service DH 95 in RAF service