De Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover VH-DHA

This aircraft (c/n 5001) was built by De Havilland Australia at Sydney/Bankstown, NSW, as the first prototype of a new type designed to replace the earlier DH Dragon. The three-engined layout was chosen so as to make use of a large number of surplus Gipsy Major engines which had been built in Australia during the war. The aircraft was registered and had its first flight on 23 January 1948 in the hands of De Havilland Aust. pilot Brian 'Blackjack' Walker. The photo above shows the aircraft at Bankstown early in its life. VH-DHA was unique in only having three windows on the port side, lacking the window in the door fitted to all other Drovers.

On 28 May 1948 a Federal Government Cabinet Agendum sponsored by the Minister for Civil Aviation (A S Drakeford) and Minister for Supply (J Armstrong) proposed the purchase of 12 DHA Drovers with an option on another 10. These were to be allocated to Trans Australia Airlines (6), Qantas Empire Airlines (4) and DCA (2) at a total cost of £216,000.

In October 1948 VH-DHA went to the RAAF's Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at Laverton, Vic for evaluation. This was completed by January 1949.

On 7 October 1949 the aircraft is officially quoted as having been delivered to DCA and it was weighed at Bankstown prior to the issue of a Normal Category Certificate of Airworthiness. Ownership is recorded as having been changed to DCA on 13 October. On 15 October VH-DHA was ferried from Sydney/Mascot to Melbourne/Essendon. It was then based at Essendon and carried a polished-metal colour scheme.

In November 1950 VH-DHA was leased to Trans Australia Airlines (TAA), repainted in full TAA colours and given the name Clifford Peel. The aircraft was evaluated on scheduled freight services between Melbourne and Sydney.

In December 1950 VH-DHA was returned to DCA and, in 1951, transferred to DCA's Papua New Guinea Region, based in Port Moresby. The registration VH-CAU, in the 'DCA block' was reserved for it but never taken up and the aircraft remained VH-DHA throughout its life.

The aircraft was lost at sea in Departmental service on 16 April 1952 and struck off the Register on 5 June. Click here to read the story of the loss of VH-DHA.

(Photo: CAHS collection)

More photos of VH-DHA

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