Ronald Eric Bishop

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R.E. Bishop
Born 27 February 1903
Died 11 June 1989[1]
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Nora
Children 2 sons
Engineering career
Engineering discipline Aeronautics
Employer(s) de Havilland 1921 – 64[2]
Significant advance de Havilland Mosquito, de Havilland Comet
Significant awards Gold Medal, RAeS (1964)

Ronald Eric Bishop CBE FRAeS (1903–1989) 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.


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, .

He 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:

  • Charles Walker
  • Richard Clarkson (responsible for aerodynamics)
  • A.P. Wilkins
  • William Tamblin (later OBE, who designed the wings of the Mosquito and Comet)


The outstanding achievement of his design office was the DH.98 Mosquito. It was initially expected to reach 376 mph, but managed 388 mph when first tested – Britain's fastest aircraft at the time - and was known as the Wooden Wonder. It had been conceived in 1938. The Air Ministry was not amenable to the radical and untried idea of an unarmed bomber, and did not fund the design. Air Chief Marshal Sir Wilfrid Freeman, of the Air Staff, was interested however and boldly championed the concept. As a result of the scepticism at the time the plane became known as Freeman's Folly. His confidence was shown to be fully justified, as it became the fastest wartime aircraft for two and a half years. The original 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, and had been 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.


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
  • 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 in Rochford in 1936. They had two sons. He received the CBE in 1946. He lived at Fieldgate on Redbourn Lane (B487) in Hatching Green, Harpenden, then South Holme.

He died in June 1989 at the age of 86.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]