Dove/Heron Specs & Info

A Brief History…

The De Havilland D.H.104 Dove would be the second of the post-war, Brabazon Committee aircraft to enter service – its proposed, Type VB designation denoting the requirement for a small feeder aircraft that could be used to transport passengers to the larger airports from smaller, regional airfields. Conceived by the same designer of the extremely successful Mosquito as a replacement for the venerable Dragon Rapide, the Dove quickly gained a reputation for being a reliable, easy to maintain aircraft with few vices and good rough field handling capabilities. Quite naturally orders went through the roof and this particular type would go on to become Britain’s best selling, post-war commercial aircraft with 402 ending up with airlines, companies or private owners while a further 140 airframes would see service as military types.

Then in May 1950 the D.H.114 Heron appeared, this basically being a slightly larger version of the Dove with two extra engines. This model would however, not approach the same kind of heady sales figures that the Dove had managed possibly because unlike its progenitor, the Heron was from the outset found wanting in several areas. The undercarriage was fixed which reduced airspeed, while the four, heavy, 250hp engines resulted in sluggish performance and a relatively poor climb rate, although most of these issues were later rectified in the Heron 2 and 2B variants. While the aircraft was often considered to be slightly underpowered, crews nevertheless grew quite attached to the aircraft and its four engines were appreciated by those who had to fly the Heron into remote locations or across wide or open stretches of water.

As far as Southend was concerned, both types would become regular visitors during the ’50s and ’60s with a good number arriving for attention with ATEL. However, these aircraft would also end up being based at the airport thanks to EAFS/Channel Airways, while Mike Keegan’s constant wheeling and dealing would see him purchasing and selling on a multitude of Doves and a small number of Herons, some of which inevitably ventured into SEN. From 1955 onwards, Channel Airways operated six Doves and with the removal of the airline’s Dragon Rapides, these aircraft would quickly replace them on the cross-Channel routes. However, as Channel began to acquire larger equipment, the Doves returned to the kind of operations that De Havilland had envisioned from the outset and from 1960 onwards they were mostly used as feeders between Ipswich, Norwich, Rochester and Southend.

Sufficed to say, the Herons were not to be left out and from 1968 onwards, four of them arrived at SEN initially to assist Channel’s new Scottish Flyer service where they would haul passengers in to Castle Donington (East Midlands) from the outlying airfields and airports to meet the Viscounts. However, within a year this route had been dropped and the Herons were instead put to work on scheduled services and a small number of private charters during the quieter winter months. In fact, a year or so prior to Channel’s collapse, the Herons frequently found themselves replacing the Viscounts on the cross-Channel services, especially when passengers numbers dropped into single figures. Indeed, it would be one of these very aircraft that would fly the final service for this airline before it went into administration in February 1972.

Otherwise, both the Dove and the Heron would emerge in several, after market conversions ranging from those with bespoke interiors to airframes which had been cut and altered so much, that in many ways, they no longer resembled their original forms. In 1968, Channel Airways would attempt to undertake a Carstedt conversion and bought three Doves from Morton for this very purpose. One airframe would actually receive a certain amount of attention until Channel’s financial problems saw this project being abandoned. Another conversion would see ATEL becoming technically involved when in 1969, they became instrumental in helping Saunders of Canada to develop the ST-27, a lengthened, turboprop powered version of the Heron. While no original Herons are known to be airworthy, several Doves still continue to fly to this very day with private owners or small associations.


De Havilland Dove Variants

Dove 1

Production transport model with 2 x 340hp Gypsy Queens – Up to 11 pax

Dove 1B

As above but with 2 x 380hp Gypsy Queens

Dove 2

Executive production model with 2 x 340hp Gypsy Queens – Up to 6 pax

Dove 2B

As above but with 2 x 380hp Gypsy Queens

Dove 4/C.1/C.2

RAF versions

Sea Devon C.20

Royal Navy version

Dove 5/6

Similar to Dove 2B with minor modifications

Dove 7

As Dove 1B but with 2 x 400hp Gypsy Queens

Dove 8

As Dove 2B but with 2 x 400hp Gypsy Queens


Modified Variants

Carstedt Jet-Liner 600

Fuselage stretch of 2.2m and 2 x 605shp Garrett turboprops fitted – Channel’s attempt to build an example abandoned

Dove Custom 800

Standard Doves but with custom interiors

Riley Dove/Turbo Executive

Modified tail and 2 x 400hp Lycoming flat eights


De Havilland Heron Variants

Heron 1

Standard production model with fixed u/c

Heron 1B

Standard production model with fixed u/c and higher t/o weight

Heron 2

Standard production model with retractable u/c

Heron 2B

Standard production model with retractable u/c and higher t/o weight

Heron 2C

As above but with variable and full feathering props

Heron 2D

As Heron 2B but with further increase in t/o weight

Heron C.3/C.4

Queen’s Flight variants

Sea Heron C.20

Liaison variant for Royal Navy


Modified Variants

Riley Turbo Skyliner

Larger 290hp Lycoming engines fitted to standard airframes

Saunders ST-27

Stretched by 2.6m – Engines replaced by 2 x 750shp Pratt & Whitney turboprops – Partially developed with ATEL at SEN

Shin Meiwa Tawron

Japanese conversion – Original power plants replaced with 260hp Continental O-470 engines



Dove (2B)/Heron (1B)

Number Built



Short Range Feeder/Small Airliner


39ft 3in (11.96m)/48ft 6in (14.79m)


57ft (17.40m)/71ft 6in (21.80m)


Up to 11 passengers/Up to 17 passengers

Cruise Speed

161kt – 186mph (300km/h)/159kt – 183mph (295km/h)






Dove – 2 x 380hp De Havilland Gypsy Queen 70-2 engines

Heron – 4 x 250hp De Havilland Gypsy Queen 30 6-Cyl engines