The Drover was designed for QANTAS based on the de Havilland Dove with modifications for the Australian environment. These changes included adding a third engine and changing from a retractable tricycle nose gear to a fixed tailwheel. The resulting aircraft first flew in 1946 with deliveries to the airline beginning in 1949. A total of 20 Drovers were built with the last leaving the assembly line in 1953. Once in service the airline found that the plane was underpowered and suffered from mechanical difficulties with the propellers that resulted in two crashes. Modifications to the planes to try to fix the problems included replacing the propellers, changing the flaps to a double slotted type to improve low speed handling, and eventually replacing the engines with a more powerful type and yet another propeller change. QANTAS only kept the planes for a brief time before selling them on to other airlines or private users. It was the Australian Flying Doctor Service that made the best and longest use of the type.
The Flying Doctor Service was founded to bring medical services to the far flung and often isolated inhabitants of Australia. It made its first flights in 1928 and continues to provide medical services and transport today. The Drover entered the Service’s fleet in 1952 and remained in use until the mid-1960s.
de Havilland Australia
Flying Doctor Service, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia, 1952.
VH-EBT, VQ-FAP, VH-ADN
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