de Havilland Humming Bird

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DH.53 Humming Bird
DH.53, G-EBHX, at the Shuttleworth Collection
Role Ultralight monoplane
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight 2 October 1923[1]
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1923–1924
Number built 15

The de Havilland DH.53 Humming Bird is a British light aircraft of the 1920s.

Design and development[edit]

In response to the Daily Mail Light Aeroplane Competition of 1923 de Havilland built two DH.53s which were named Humming Bird and Sylvia II. The DH.53 was a low-wing single-seat monoplane powered by a Douglas 750 cc motorcycle engine. At Lympne, in October 1923, the DH.53s did not win any prizes but gave an impressive performance for a light aircraft. The Air Ministry became interested in the design and ordered eight in 1924 as communications and training aircraft for the Royal Air Force.

Early in 1924 twelve aircraft were built at Stag Lane Aerodrome and were named Humming Bird after the first prototype. Eight aircraft were for the Air Ministry order, three were for export to Australia, and one was exported to Aero in Prague. One further aircraft was later built for an order from Russia.

The production aircraft were powered by a 26 hp (19 kW) Blackburne Tomtit two-cylinder engine.

Operational service[edit]

The first six aircraft for the Royal Air Force all made their public debut at the 1925 display at RAF Hendon, where they were raced against each other. The last two aircraft would later be used for "parasite aircraft" trials being launched from below an airship – the R.33. The aircraft were retired in 1927 and all eight were sold as civil aircraft.


 United Kingdom

Aircraft on display[edit]


Data from British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Vol 2,[5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Length: 19 ft 8 in (6 m)
  • Wingspan: 30 ft 1 in (9.17 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m)
  • Wing area: 125 ft² (11.6 m²)
  • Empty weight: 326 lb (148 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 565 lb (257 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Blackburne Tomtit inverted vee, two cylinder engine, 26 hp (19 kW)


See also[edit]

Related development

Related lists


  1. ^ Jackson 1987, p. 208.
  2. ^ "BBC News – Pilot dies after vintage plane crashes in Bedfordshire". Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  3. ^ Niles, Russ (1 July 2012). "Pilots Killed In Airshow Crashes". AVweb. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  4. ^ De Havilland DH53 Humming Bird, G-EBHX, 1 July 2012, Air Accidents Investigation Branch, 10 December 2014
  5. ^ Jackson 1973, p. 77.
  • Jackson, A. J. (1973). British Civil Aircraft Since 1919 Volume 2 (Second ed.). Putnam & Company. ISBN 0-370-10010-7.
  • Jackson, A. J. (1987). De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 (Third ed.). London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-802-X.

External links[edit]