Introduced in 1948, the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 "Beaver" went on to achieve global popularity with over 35 operators using the type and production reaching an impressive post-World War 2 total of 1,657 units. Manufacture of the aircraft spanned from 1947 until 1967 and the successful DHC-2 also went on to form the basis for the similar DHC-3 "Otter" series detailed elsewhere on this site. While production of the DHC-2 has since closed, the aircraft line is still in active service throughout the world today (2016) with no sign of its end coming soon.
The DHC-2 was developed along the lines of a utility-minded platform with inherent Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities. This meant a lightweight overall design with good power stemming from a single engine and a shoulder-mounted wing structure to maximize lift and agility. First flight of a prototype was on August 16th, 1947 with service introduction arriving in 1948.
Origins of the DHC-2 lay in the years immediately following the close of World War 2 (1945). The world aircraft market saw a dramatic shift away from military platforms to civilian-market types and de Havilland - makers of the famous wartime twin-engined DH.98 "Mosquito" series - followed suit. Research centered on delivering a new aircraft to "bush" pilots - one of rugged, sound and reliable design. Due to the variable environments that the new aircraft could operate across, a floatplane and wheeled undercarriage was developed to suit customer needs. Large side doors, placed along both fuselage sides, was another of the notable requirements bush pilots made. The engine of choice became the Pratt & Whitney Canada "Wasp Junior" radial of 450 horsepower - these left over from the Canadian war effort. Design work began in 1946.
The DHC-2 was not an outright commercial success. However slowly-but-surely its capabilities became known within certain flight circles. It was not until its major endorsement arrived through the United States Army selection as its next general purpose utility transport that raised the export profile of the DHC-2 considerably. The U.S. Army used the aircraft to replace an aging stock of Cessna aircraft in the same utility transport role.
As completed, the DHC-2 needed only a single pilot to operate her. The passenger section carried up to six persons or 2,100 lb of cargo as needed. The primary engine fit became the Pratt & Whitney R-985 "Wasp Junior" radial of 450 horsepower which helped to provide speeds nearing 160 miles per hour (cruising was closer to 145 mph). Its range was out to 455 miles and the listed service ceiling was 18,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was a usable 1,020 feet per minute.
Since its inception, the DHC-2 has seen a plethora of variants emerge - the "Beaver I" was the original transport model and accepted into service with the British Army as the "Beaver AL Mk 1". The U.S. Army operated them under the "C-127" designation initially and then as the "L-20". These were tested as "YL-20". Another U.S. Army variant to emerge was the L-20A "Beaver" which then became the "U-6A" after the 1962 reorganization. About 968 of these were procured and followed by the "L-20B" - which became six "U-6B" systems after 1962.
The "Beaver II" was a form outfitted with the Alvis "Leonides" radial piston engine. The Wipaire "Super Beaver" were surplus U.S. Army and USAF types modified for post-military roles. The Wipaire "Boss Turbo Beaver" - as its name suggests - was given a turbo modification. The "Turbo-Beaver III" carried a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-6 or -20 series turboprop engine of 578 horsepower. Another post-military conversion model became the Airtech Canada DHC-2 which were given PZL-3S radial piston engines outputting 600 horsepower. The Volpar Model 4000 fitted an AiResearch TPE331-2U-203 turboprop engine driving a three-bladed propeller and was given an all-new tail fin. The Viking DHC-2T "Turbo Beaver" was a model completed by Viking Air with changes to include a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 series turboprop engine developing 680 horsepower.
The DHC-2 series has seen operational service with both military and civilian parties worldwide - from Argentina and Australia to Yugoslavia and Zambia.
Status Active, In-Service
Production 1,657 Units
de Havilland Canada - Canada
Argentina; Austria; Burma; Cambodia; Chile; Colombia; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Finland; France; Ghana; Greece; Haiti; Indonesia; Iran; Kenya; Laos; Netherlands; New Zealand; Oman; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; South Vietnam; South Yemen; Thailand; Turkey; Uganda; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; Yugoslavia; Zambia
- Commercial Market
- VIP Transport
30.25 ft (9.22 m)
48.00 ft (14.63 m)
8.99 ft (2.74 m)
3,000 lb (1,361 kg)
5,099 lb (2,313 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver production model)
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior radial piston engine developing 450 horsepower.
158 mph (255 kph; 138 kts)
15,046 feet (4,586 m; 2.85 miles)
455 miles (732 km; 395 nm)
1,020 ft/min (311 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver production model)
DHC-2 "Beaver" - Base Series Name
Beaver Mk I - Initial utility model
Beaver AL Mk I - British Army designation of the Mk I
Beaver C-127 - U.S. Army designation until 1962
Beaver YL-20 - U.S. Army designation of evaluation models.
L-20A Beaver (U-6A) - U.S. Army model; 968 units completed.
L-20B Beaver (U-6B) - U.S. Army model with slight changes from A-model forms; six total units.
Beaver Mk II - One-off form with Alvis Leonides radial piston engine fitted.
Wipaire "Boss Turbo-Beaver" - Post-military L-20 models
Turbo-Beaver Mk III - Fitted with PW PT6A-6/-20 turboprop engines.
Airtech Canada DHC-2 (PZL-3S) - Post-military model with Ivchenko PZL-3S radial engine of 600 horsepower.
Volpar "Model 4000" - Model of 1972; AiResearch turboprop engine driving three-bladed propeller; all-new tail unit.
Viking DHC-2T "Turbo Beaver" - Fitted with PWC PT6A-34 turboprop engine of 680 horsepower.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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