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De Havilland Enterprises: A History (Paperback)

Aviation WWI

By Graham M. Simons
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 200 illustrations
ISBN: 9781399085175
Published: 26th April 2022



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Captain Sir Geoffrey de Havilland was one of the world’s true pioneers of powered flight, a man as important to Britain in aviation terms as the Wright brothers were to America. From humble beginnings, he went on to develop some of the finest aircraft to see action during the First World War, before going on to create the illustrious company that bore his name. All of this began in his youth when, without experience, plans or instructions, he embarked on the ambitious task of not only building his very first flying machine, but also constructing the engine to power it.

This book explores the influences and milestones of his early years before going on to examine his company, The De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited, in detail. Amongst the momentous machines that he had a hand in creating were the Gipsy Moth and Tiger Moth - two iconic aircraft types destined to set a variety of aviation records whilst being piloted by de Havilland himself. Another highlight of the company's history saw the esteemed aviatrix Amy Johnson fly solo from England to Australia in a Gipsy Moth in 1930. The high-performance designs and monocoque wooden construction methods passed through the supremely elegant DH.91 Albatross into the Mosquito. The company then followed up these successes with the high-performing Hornet fighter, which pioneered the use of metal-wood and metal-metal bonding techniques, eventually resulting in the world’s first jet airliner, the fabulous Comet.

Every one of De Havilland’s products are listed and recorded in detail here, as are all the designs that never left the drawing board and the products of De Havilland's companies in Australia and Canada. Fully illustrated throughout, this volume is sure to be highly prized amongst serious collectors.

The text is liberally illustrated with photographs and line drawings. and supported where appropriate by data tables.

Scale Aviation Modeller International, October 2020, Vol 26, Issue 10

This is a useful reference work for anyone interested in de Havilland aircraft or the British aircraft industry, with a more balanced mix of civil and military types than was the case for many companies.

Read the full review here

History of War

The author has a very engaging and readable writing style, despite having to deal with the large depth and volume of technical information and data. This book is good value and a must for devotees of the de Havilland story and is a worthy companion on the library shelf next to books by C Martin Sharp, A J Jackson, Edward Bishop, Phillip Birtles and Sir Geoffrey de Havilland’s autobiography Sky Fever (Hamish Hamilton Ltd. 1961).

National Aerospace Society

The core of this book is a numerical listing of all aircraft designs that carried the De Havilland type number complete with (where possible), photographs and plans. It brings together in one place the concise details of not only every aircraft but every design conceived by the company up to the point where De Havilland was absorbed into the Hawker Siddley Group.

Military Vehicle Trust

The latest offering from Pen & Sword Books is a clear winner that will interest any World War I aviation enthusiast.

Indy Squadron Dispatch

Many books on de Havilland suffer from an adulatory, uncritical approach. This is not one of them. This will be the first de Havilland book I turn to for most questions from now on.

Flightpath Magazine

The author captures the salient features of each airplane, portrayed with a photo or at least a drawing.

JP4, October 2017 – reviewed by Marco de Montis

The name de Havilland has long held a deep fascination for those interested in aviation history.

The author has a very engaging and readable writing style, despite having to deal with the large depth and volume of technical information and data.
This book is good value and a must for devotees.

Royal Aeronautical Society

This book is a a substantial overview of every type developed by Geoffrey de Havilland and his companies, including sections on aircraft built by the de Havilland Canada offshoot. Each entry includes diagrams, technical information, archive photographs and well-researched and interesting information.

Naturally with such an all-encompassing and pioneering developer the book is not wholly about civil aircraft, but a mixture of war, transport and experimental aircraft.

Graham Simons has produced a fascinating read.

Read the complete review here.


This volume is both well researched and well-written, with the author’s passion for his subject being very evident.

NZ Crown Mines

This has to be the definitive history of De Havilland, a leading aviation pioneer and great success story. The level of detail and research is first rate with many illustrations – Most Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.

 Graham M. Simons

About Graham M. Simons

GRAHAM M. SIMONS was one of the founders of the world-famous aviation museum at Duxford near Cambridge where his interest was piqued watching the making of the film Battle of Britain there in the late 1960s. From this, and with an engineering background, he progressed to membership of a number of aviation societies, including sitting on the British Aviation Preservation Council, eventually taking the position of Engineering Director with one group. Graham combines his love of writing with his skills in production to create and publish aviation histories focused on a variety of subjects.

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