History of Hatfield’s executive jet the 125

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum's DH125. Picture: de Havilland Aircraft Museum

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum's DH125. Picture: de Havilland Aircraft Museum

de Havilland Aircraft Museum

Continuing our look at Hatfield’s aviation heritage, this week de Havilland Aircraft Museum curator Alistair Hodgson shares the history of the 125.

'Smile for the Camera!' A popular visitor’s shot of the 125 when de Havilland Aircraft Museum volunteers open the nose cone. Picture: de Havilland Aircraft Museum'Smile for the Camera!' A popular visitor’s shot of the 125 when de Havilland Aircraft Museum volunteers open the nose cone. Picture: de Havilland Aircraft Museum

Executive jets are a common sight these days, both in the skies and at almost any airport.

The concept of a small airliner for business use dates back before the war however, and the de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was one of the first successful aircraft in this field, followed in post-war years by the DH.104 Dove.

The de Havilland DH.125 was designed as a jet-age successor to both the Dragon Rapide and the Dove.

In fact, it was originally proposed to call it the ‘Jet Dragon’.

The compact two-seat cockpit of the DH125. Picture: de Havilland Aircraft MuseumThe compact two-seat cockpit of the DH125. Picture: de Havilland Aircraft Museum

The company announced its plans for the aircraft in February 1961 and the first prototype flew from Hatfield in August 1962.

Two initial prototypes were followed by the first production prototype that incorporated all the features a client could expect to see: that aircraft is now in our museum.

The DH.125 was a small rugged aeroplane with a crew of two and six passengers seated in very comfortable armchair-style seats.

It had a generous baggage capacity and could cruise at 450-500mph over a range of about 1,500 miles.

Because the DH Dove had enjoyed great sales success in North America, the company sent the eighth production DH.125 aircraft to tour the USA and Canada where it drummed up a considerable amount of business.

By this time however, the de Havilland Aircraft Company had been merged into the Hawker Siddeley Group.

Therefore, strictly speaking, the aircraft was in fact the Hawker Siddeley 125.

However, the brand name of de Havilland was very strong on the other side of the Atlantic and so the aircraft was marketed as the DH.125.

The 125 was used all over the world, not only for its original civil executive purpose, but as VIP transports in many foreign air forces.

The RAF used DH.125s – which they called the Dominie – as navigation trainers and they also flew with the Queen’s Flight.

Our DH.125 was used extensively by Bristol Siddeley Engines Ltd as a demonstration aircraft: it once flew 5,000 miles to 16 countries in a single day!

When Bristol Siddeley became part of Rolls-Royce it was used as a communications aircraft on the Concorde programme, flying regularly between Filton (Bristol) and Toulouse.

• For more on the de Havilland Aircraft Museum at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, and its opening times, visit www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Herts Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Related articles

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Herts Advertiser