de Havilland Dove (Sea Devon C.20) VH-DVE
Our aircraft VH-DVE (formerly XJ319) served in the Royal Navy from 1955 to the late 1980's. DVE was one of only two dual-controlled Sea Devons in naval service and was based for many years with 781 Squadron at RNAS Lee-on-Solent where it was used to convert pilots on to Sea Devon, Sea Prince, and Heron aircraft It also flew 781 Squadron's clipper service - a "mini" scheduled airline that linked the UK naval air stations on a twice-daily basis.
The aircraft's final years of naval service were spent at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall where, as XJ319, it carried out the roles of communications, fishery protection, coast watch, and sonar buoy detection.
The Sea Devon is the Naval variant of the ever-popular de Havilland Dove. The Dove was designed by the Brabazon Committee as a post-war regional feeder-liner. The Committee were responsible for many other diverse aircraft including the Mosquito, Comet and Vickers Viscount. However the Dove is arguably their most successful project.
Most initial sales of the Dove were to corporate customers or to VIP's such as the three aircraft sold to the Maharajahs of Baroda, Bikaner and Jaipur in India. Numerous other aircraft were utilised by airlines worldwide including, Airlines (WA) later known as MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA), TAA, BOAC, South African Airways, Sudan Airways and British Midland. Devons were used by several countries, namely India, Sri Lanka, Spain, United Kingdom and New Zealand. Some were used as Air Attaches such as the Royal Air Force Devons, which were used to transport the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.
VH-DVE served for over 35 years, being retired only in the late 1980's. To this day, the Dove is still the safest aircraft per hour flown, economically cheaper to operate and often more comfortable than modern competition. Over 50 years since its creation, the Dove has a proud history.
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