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British Airways — new pro video of their 90 years, another dimension

20 September 2011

British Airways — new pro video of their 90 years, another dimension

Yesterday I published a post about a newly available professional video and I mentioned how excited I was particularly about two antique yet flying de Havilland aircraft — a DH-9 and a DH-89 Dragon Rapide. They are wonderful to see starting up and flying to be sure.

These aircraft which appear in the video illustrate an issue museums all too often have and that is to represent history, “errors” must purposely be made. Two aviation historical authorities I know and trust immediately informed me that the DH-9 is actually a more rare DH-51 painted to look like the DH-9 and is part of the Shuttleworth Collection. British Airways, of course footnoted this, but why would the Shuttleworth Collection do such an historical ruse?

Well, not to be a tricky at all, of course.

The collection, I think, purposely decided to represent something more historical than an aircraft type. The DH-51 in DH-9 clothing has the livery of the airline known as Air Transport & Travel Ltd. — the first airline flying aircraft on international routes. Quite an important accomplishment to have recalled by those new to aviation or visiting the museum.

What about the DH-89 dressed in the livery of Imperial Airways Ltd.? Well, that is called doing with what one can. The “correct” aircraft type would be another de Havilland design, the DH-86 Express (a four engine version of the Dragon Rapide). Tragically, none exist. So, why not paint a Dragon Rapide as if it had flown with Imperial Airways? I’m happy with the choice, to see history flying brings it alive and registers more deeply, I think.

Others have made similar choices:

  • An F-86 in the livery of a famed fighter ace, but the wrong model
  • T-6 Texans modified to be Mitsubishi Zeroes
  • Sandringhams to Sunderlands

I still find the practice of prominently placing names of those who donate or keep flying otherwise historically represented aircraft distasteful, however.


My immense thanks go to Ross Sharp of Shortfinals’s Blog and James Kightly of Vintage Aeroplane Writer for their insight and information.

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