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The de Havilland DH.95 Flamingo was a British twin-engined high-wing monoplane airliner first flown on 22 December 1938. During the Second World War some were used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a transport and general communications duties.

DH.95 Flamingo
De havilland dh95 flamingo.jpg
Lady of Glamis the former King's Flight Flamingo circa 1943
Role Airliner
Communications aircraft
Manufacturer de Havilland
Designer Ronald Eric Bishop
First flight 22 December 1938
Introduction 15 July 1939
Retired 1950
Primary users Royal Air Force
Number built 14


Design and developmentEdit

The Flamingo was a twin-engined civil airliner designed by de Havilland, led by their chief designer R. E. Bishop, and was the first all-metal stressed-skin aircraft built by de Havilland; only the control surfaces were fabric covered. It was powered by two 890 hp Bristol Perseus XIIIC air-cooled radial engines driving three-bladed D.H hydromatic variable-pitch propellers. Two pilots were seated side by side with a radio operator behind them in the cockpit, with the cabin accommodating 12–17 passengers. It had a retractable undercarriage, slotted flaps, and was considered a highly promising sales prospect for the company, capable of competing with the American Douglas DC-3 and Lockheed Model 10 Electra. The first prototype flew on 22 December 1938.[1]

Powered by 890 hp (660 kW) Bristol Perseus engines, performance was excellent with a maximum weight takeoff in 750 ft (230 m) and the ability to maintain height or climb at 120 mph (190 km/h) on a single engine. Testing was successful, with the Flamingo being granted a certificate of airworthiness on 30 June 1939,[2] with an initial production run of twenty aircraft being laid down.[3]

The Hertfordshire, the transport variant of the Flamingo. This was the only one built, which fatally crashed in October 1940

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 soldiers.

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.

Operational serviceEdit

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

Following the success of the first test flights Jersey Airways ordered three 17-seat aircraft, and this was followed by orders from the Egyptian government and the Air Ministry. The Air Ministry aircraft were to be used by the Air Council and the King's Flight.

The prototype, fitted with 12 passenger seats, was delivered to Jersey Airways in May 1939 for two months evaluation and became the first revenue-earning Flamingo. The first services carried mail only but in July a regular weekend passenger service was operated.

In October 1939 the prototype was bought by the Air Council, being delivered to No. 24 Squadron RAF where it operated until it was lost in an accident in October 1940. The second aircraft was to be the first for Guernsey and Jersey Airlines but it was impressed into military service and delivered to 24 Squadron, the other two on order were never built due to the outbreak of the Second World War.

The King's Flight aircraft was to be used in the event of the royal family having to leave the country but in the end it was passed to 24 Squadron for communications and liaison duties.

Early in 1940 BOAC ordered eight aircraft to be powered by the Perseus XVI and originally intended as ten-seaters. The first BOAC aircraft was delivered to Whitchurch on 5 September 1940. The second BOAC aircraft was impressed by the Air Ministry and allocated for Admiralty use at RNAS Donibristle. To replace the impressed aircraft BOAC were later allotted the aircraft ordered by the Egyptian Government. After a period of training all the BOAC Flamingos were moved to Cairo to operate in the Middle East. The BOAC aircraft were named after English Kings and were named K-class by the airline.

The BOAC Flamingoes were not popular, and following three accidents – one of which was fatal – and with a lack of spares, the airline decided to withdraw the type. In 1943 the five airworthy aircraft were shipped back to the United Kingdom. They did not return to service and were scrapped in the early 1950s.

Most of the RAF aircraft were withdrawn from use during the war and were slowly scrapped to provide spares for the remaining aircraft. The Admiralty aircraft was due to be withdrawn and scrapped but in August 1944 it ground looped[further explanation needed] at Gatwick and was abandoned. In 1946 the former Admiralty aircraft was bought by Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) and rebuilt using former BOAC spare parts. It flew again in 1947 and was delivered to British Air Transport at Redhill, gaining a Certificate of Airworthiness. It operated a number of charter flight until it was temporarily withdrawn from use in 1949.

British Air Transport also arranged to restore three former BOAC aircraft, the scheme was abandoned although the aircraft were in an advanced stage of reconstruction. In 1952, British Air Transport restored the original former Admiralty aircraft which flew again on 27 May 1952. Redhill Aerodrome was closed in 1954 and the last flying Flamingo was dismantled and scrapped.


Specifications (de Havilland Flamingo)Edit

De Havilland Flamingo

Data from De Havilland Aircraft since 1909[4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: three
  • Capacity: 17 passengers
  • Length: 51 ft 7 in (15.73 m)
  • Wingspan: 70 ft 0 in (21.34 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 3 in (4.65 m)
  • Wing area: 651 ft² (60.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 11,325 lb (5,148 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 18,000 lb (8,182 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Perseus XVI radial piston, 930 hp (690 kW) each



  • Sperry Automatic Pilot

See alsoEdit

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era Douglas DC-5 Related lists


  1. ^ Jackson 1987, p. 399.
  2. ^ Green and Swanborough 1986, p. 4.
  3. ^ Green and Swanborough 1986, p. 5.
  4. ^ Jackson 1987, p. 403.


  • Bain, Gordon. De Havilland: A Pictorial Tribute. London: AirLife, 1992. ISBN 1-85648-243-X.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "De Havilland's War Orphan." Air Enthusiast. Number 30, March–June 1986, pp. 1–10. Bromley, Kent, UK: Pilot Press.
  • Jackson, A.J. De Havilland Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, Third edition 1987. ISBN 0-85177-802-X.
  • The Birth of an Airliner , Picture Post , 15 July 1939 pages 43–48