The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre Queensland based at Caboolture had an early Christmas present when de Havilland DH.104 Dove 2 / Sea Devon C.20 c/n 04410 VH-DHI arrived at Caboolture from the nearby Redcliffe Queensland (Qld) airport on its delivery flight.
The Dove/Devon has been acquired by several AAHCQ members and will be based at Caboolture with the growing aircraft fleet of the AAHCQ and remain as a flying aircraft. There was much excitement at Caboolture as the aircraft was flown in and taxied up to the hangar. The Dove will make a great addition to the collection, being a genuine Warbird, having served as a Devon with the Royal Navy. The Dove has the capacity to carry 6 passengers.
The Dove had been restored over several years by a group of enthusiasts at Redcliffe and flew again in 2014. Since then it has been displayed at several events including the Brisbane Valley Airshow at Watts Bridge.
History of de Havilland DH.104 Dove VH-DHI
The aircraft was manufactured in 1953. Built by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at their Hawarden plant, Chester UK as a Dove 2 on 22.1.53 and registered G-AMXZ to De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd, Hatfield. The Dove was built for the USA but in the end remained in the UK. On 23.9.54 the aircraft was sold to Royal Navy as part of an order for 10 Sea Devon C.20s (The Devon being the UK Military title for the Dove). The aircraft commenced service on 3.5.55 and was taken on charge Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as Sea Devon C.20 XJ324. The aircraft was operated by RNFAA 781 Squadron based at Lee-on-Solent, Hants and was fitted with an upholstered interior as an “Admirals Barge”.
In 1990, the Devon was retired by Royal Navy and listed for civil disposal and sold to a UK aircraft dealer. In 1990 the aircraft was acquired from the British aircraft dealer by Ted Rudge, Melbourne Victoria and on 1.6.90 XJ324 arrived dismantled on a truck at Essendon Airport, Melbourne and was assembled at Essendon. Now titled a Dove on 28.12.90 the aircraft was added to the Australian Civil Register as Dove 5 VH-DHI owned by E. M. (Ted) Rudge, t/a Rudge Air, Essendon Victoria.
Ted Rudge operated a night air freight service from Essendon with Doves VH-DHD and VH-JGZ and VH-DHI joined the fleet, operated by Rudge Air. It retained its military paintwork “Royal Navy”, named Belle’s Dove. On 14.9.91 the Dove was damaged when it ran off runway landing at Launceston Tasmania while carrying freight on charter to Ansett Air Freight. The aircraft was repaired at Essendon using the nose section of VH-CTS (04119) fitted from a join in the airframe behind the cockpit.
In April 2004, Rudge advertised the aircraft for sale and it was sold to Russell Mann, Redcliffe Qld trading as Vintage Airways. The Dove was ferried from Essendon to Redcliffe by Ted Rudge on delivery on 17. 7.06 and following an extensive overhaul the aircraft flew again in her Royal Navy markings. On 16.8.06 there was a register change of ownership to Russell Mann, Woody Point Qld. The aircraft flew on and off for several more years until it was again restored and flown again in 2014.
Warbirds Online wishes AAHCQ and its members all the best in the ongoing operation of this fantastic old Warbird.
© John Parker 2016