Dietmar and the Dove

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Air to air photography and article by Dietmar Schreiber During the Second World War, De Havilland was primarily known for the production of over 7700 Mosquitos. In 1943 De Havilland started to develop a successor for the DH89 Dragon Rapide, of which it had produced nearly 800 examples from 1932. The DH104 Dove had its first flight in September, 1945, only 6 weeks after Japan surrendered. The first aircraft was delivered to Canada in May, 1946 after a short development and test period. In a world that was still affected by the aftermath of World War II, air travel was limited to a small group of individuals. The Dove was designed for eight passengers, which helped it find a niche in the airliner market of that time. Production of the Dove continued for 22 years, and when it ended, De Havilland had produced 542 civil and military examples. The biggest Dove operator was the Argentinean Government, which ordered 70 aircraft in two batches for its various governmental departments. It was unusual for a British aircraft to have its largest customer outside the United Kingdom. The Royal Air Force was the biggest British operator with 40 examples in different versions; its last Dove was retired in 1984.

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Today there are more than 100 Dove airframes existing in various conditions. Ten are reported to be more or less operational. One of the more active examples is operated by TFC “Flugbetrieb und -technik Beratungsgesellschaft mbH” from its home base of Essen-Mühlheim in Germany. The aircraft is registered as D-INKA and flies under the LTU Classic brand. The original D-INKA was operated by the German charter airline LTU, mostly for the Shell Oil Company from 1957 to 1958. That original aircraft with the serial number 04011 was written off in an accident in France in 1959. The current D-INKA with the serial number 04266 was originally delivered to the Royal Air Force, marked as WB531. After some owner and registration changes it ended up in a container on the Dutch airfield of Lelystad. In 2004 it was discovered and bought for restoration by Air Incentive Classics. Today, D-INKA meets all safety standards and the aircraft can be seen on regular sightseeing flights all over Germany. During the yearly Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen event “Do days” we had the chance for two great photo missions with D-INKA.

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