Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

de Havilland DH.91 Albatross

Passenger Airliner / Mail Plane / General Transport

de Havilland DH.91 Albatross

Passenger Airliner / Mail Plane / General Transport


Including its two prototypes, only seven total DH.91 Albatross aircraft were ever built by de Havilland and these lived short service lives into World War 2.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1938
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): de Havilland Aircraft Company - UK
OPERATORS: United Kingdom (retired)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the de Havilland DH.91 Albatross model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 71.52 feet (21.8 meters)
WIDTH: 104.99 feet (32 meters)
HEIGHT: 22.24 feet (6.78 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 21,275 pounds (9,650 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 30,865 pounds (14,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 4 x de Havilland Gipsy Twelve 12-cylinder inverted-Vee piston engines developing 525 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 225 miles-per-hour (362 kilometers-per-hour; 195 knots)
RANGE: 1,041 miles (1,675 kilometers; 904 nautical miles)
CEILING: 17,897 feet (5,455 meters; 3.39 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 700 feet-per-minute (213 meters-per-minute)


Series Model Variants
• DH.91 "Albatross" - Base Series Designation; named aircraft were Faraday, Franklin, Frobisher, Falcon, Fortuna, Fingal, and Fiona.


Detailing the development and operational history of the de Havilland DH.91 Albatross Passenger Airliner / Mail Plane / General Transport.  Entry last updated on 6/11/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
In the mid-1930s, the British Air Ministry released Specification 36/35 calling for a transport / mailplane aircraft capable of a transatlantic crossing. The de Havilland concern returned with its DH.91 design drawn up by aircraft engineer A.E. Hagg (1888-1985). The DH.91 lived a relatively short service life as its production and exposure was ultimately limited by the arrival of World War 2 (1939-1945). As such, totals included just seven useable airframes - including two flyable prototypes.

The aircraft used a largely conventional arrangement which included a stepped cockpit overlooking the nose, low-set monoplane wings, and a twin-finned tail unit. The fuselage was relatively deep and dotted by rectangular windows while also being highly streamlined for aerodynamic efficiency. Each wing mainplane carried a pair of engine nacelles and these were equally-streamlined, hugging their mechanical components as close as possible, to further the aerodynamic qualities of the aircraft. This sort of component-hugging benefit was made possible by an all-new cooling system implemented into the design of each unit. Construction also included a unique sandwiched (plywood-balsa) wood arrangement used across the fuselage - a construction technique later pressed onto the war-winning de Havilland "Mosquito" fighter-bomber of World War 2 fame (this aircraft appears in detail elsewhere on this site).

As completed, the DH.91 would field a crew of four to include two pilots, a radioman, and a flight steward. Up to twenty-two seated passengers could be carried if the fuselage was arranged in such a way to accommodate them. Overall length reached 71.5 feet and the wingspan was 105 feet with the height measuring 22.2 feet. Empty weight was 21,230lb against an MTOW of about 30,000lb. Power was served from 4 x de Havilland "Gipsy Twelve" 12-cylinder, air-cooled, inverted-Vee piston engines outputting 525 horsepower each.

Performance went on to include a maximum speed of 225 miles per hour, a cruising speed near 210 miles per hour, a range out to 1,040 miles, and a service ceiling up to 18,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was 700 feet-per-minute.

A first-flight of the DH.91 in prototype form occurred on May 20th, 1937 and a second flyable form was completed and flown thereafter. The second example suffered a complete fracture under load during testing which forced some reinforcement of the airframe. Imperial Airways became the launch customer of the series and took into inventory both of the prototypes and a further five production models (totaling seven airframes). The first example received during October 1938 was converted to seat twenty-two passengers in some comfort while the two prototypes were received in their original mail-carrying forms. The fleet was used to connect locations within the UK to parts of France, Belgium, and Switzerland during the early-going of operational service.

As was common during the period, this small group of aircraft were named as naval ships would be. They fleet constituted "Faraday", "Franklin", "Frobisher", "Falcon", "Fortuna", "Fingal", and "Fiona".

The arrival of World War 2 on September 1st, 1939, changed how Europe did business in the air. The Royal Air Force (RAF) was in dire need of any and all capable aircraft and studied the DH.91 for its range qualities. As such, a pair of the mail carrier forms (Faraday and Franklin) were taken into military service through Squadron No.271 during September of 1940 and these flew a route between the UK and Iceland. However, both suffered from accidents during landing actions while on approach at Reykjavik which ended their flying days in the war heading into 1942. The remaining five passenger haulers served with BOAC (born from the reorganization of Imperial Airways) and these continued in service by connecting Bristol to Ireland and to Portugal though one (Frobisher) was destroyed during a German air raid and another (Fingal) in a landing accident in 1940. Another (Fortuna) example crashed after its now-weakened wood structure gave out in 1943 near Shannon Airport in Ireland.

The remaining two aircraft - Falcon and Fiona - were voluntarily destroyed in September of 1943 rather than continuing to press these airframes any further. Such ended the short-lived reign of the de Havilland DH.91.


General Assessment

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (225mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the de Havilland DH.91 Albatross's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (7)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Site Map Site content ©2003-, All Rights Reserved.

The "Military Factory" name and logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo