History of Hatfield’s executive jet the 125
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.
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 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
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