Ronald Eric Bishop

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R.E. Bishop
Born27 February 1903
Died11 June 1989 (1989-06-12) (aged 86)[1]
St Albans
Spouse(s)Nora Armstrong
Children2 sons
Engineering career
Employer(s)de Havilland 1921 – 64[2]
Significant advancede Havilland Mosquito, de Havilland Comet
AwardsGold Medal, RAeS (1964)

Ronald Eric Bishop CBE FRAeS (27 February 1903 – 11 June 1989), commonly referred to as R. E. Bishop, was the chief designer of the de Havilland Mosquito, one of the most famous aircraft of the Second World War. Bishop also designed the de Havilland Comet jetliner of 1949.[3]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Kensington, United Kingdom.


He joined de Havilland as an apprentice aged 18 in 1921, and would work there for the next forty three years. He joined the company's design office in 1923, .

Ron Bishop became the Chief Designer in 1936, taking over from Arthur Hagg. The first aircraft for which he was responsible was the DH95 Flamingo- the company's first all-metal monoplane. It had a stressed-skin and carried 17 passengers, first flying on 22 December 1938. Winston Churchill used one to journey to France in the early months of the war before Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo).

Also in his design team were:


Starting in 1938, the outstanding achievement of his design office was the DH.98 Mosquito. Conceived as an unarmed bomber, it was expected to reach an unprecedented 376 mph, but managed 388 mph when first tested - Britain's fastest aircraft at the time - and became known as the Wooden Wonder. The Air Ministry had not been amenable to the radical and untried idea of an unarmed bomber, let alone one made of a seemingly obsolete material like wood, and did not fund the design. But Air Chief Marshal Sir Wilfrid Freeman was interested and boldly championed the concept - through official scepticism the plane became known as Freeman's Folly. However, his confidence was fully justified as it became the fastest wartime aircraft for two and a half years. The concept of a fast, unarmed bomber was amply justified in practice with very low loss rates. The plane was officially announced on 26 October 1942 - de Havilland's first military plane since the Airco DH.10 of the First World War. On 5 May 1943 its high speed prowess was announced.

The jet age[edit]

After the war he became Design Director on the company's board of directors on 27 December 1946 until February 1964, when he retired. Later that year in October he received the Gold Medal of the RAeS.

In December 1954, Tim Wilkins became head of design at de Havilland.[4]


DH98 Mosquito ML963 of 571 Squadron in September 1944

Aircraft he was responsible for were:

  • Flamingo
  • Mosquito
  • Hornet
  • Vampire – the first ever fighter aircraft to exceed 500 mph
  • Dove – twin-engined propellor airliner in 1945
  • Venom – developed from the Vampire
  • Heron – four-engined propellor airliner in 1950
  • DH.108 – the first British swept wing jet, mainly designed by John Carver Meadows Frost, and the first British aircraft to exceed the speed of sound
  • DH106 Sea Vixen
  • Comet – the world's first jet airliner in July 1949 and the first trans-atlantic jet service in October 1958, later used for the design of the Nimrod, and seeing service until 1973

Personal life[edit]

He married Nora Armstrong in Rochford in 1936. They had two sons (one born in 1947). He received the CBE the 1946 Birthday Honours. He lived at Fieldgate on Redbourn Lane (B487) in Hatching Green, Harpenden, then South Holme.

He died in St Albans June 1989 at the age of 86.

G-APDC DH106 Comet 4 in September 1963

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Arthur Ernest Hagg
Chief Designer of de Havilland Aircraft
Succeeded by
Tim Wilkins