DH Comet 1 prototype

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de Havilland DH.34

de Havilland DH.34

The de Havilland Dh.34 had a somewhat chequered record: six of the twelve built were destroyed in crashes - hardly a track record that would appeal to fare-paying passengers today!

The type had a unique feature that possibly reflects a certain negativity, or at least realism, on the part of the manufacturers: it was designed with the ability to carry a spare engine. Such was the poor reliability of aero engines in the early twenties that de Havilland modified the rear fuselage to allow spare powerplants to be ferried between airports. The large rear door was paired with a removable porthole on the opposite side to allow the propeller boss to protrude out through the starboard fuselage side.

Passengers and spare engine were never carried together. In fact, the rear mounting of the spare was designed to compensate for the absnce of passengers further forward. Carriage of both would have shifted the centre of gravity so far aft that the aircraft would have been unable to lift the tail, let alone actually lift off.

As was common practice at the time, up to ten passengers could be accommodated in the enclosed saloon, while the two-man crew enjoyed a somewhat breezier experience in the open cockpit forward of the upper wing.

DH.34 by numbers
First Flight:26 March 1922
Capacity:10 passengers
Powerplant:1 × Napier Lion 12-cylinder broad arrow of 336 kW (450hp)
Range:597km (365mi)
Maximum Speed:206km/h (128mph)
Length:11.9m (39ft 0in)
Wingspan:15.7m (51ft 4in)
Height:3.7m (12ft 0in)
Weight:2,075kg (4,574lb)


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