Jump to content

de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide & Dominie – Warpaint #135


Recommended Posts

de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide & Dominie – Warpaint #135

Guideline Publications




The Dragon Rapide was a short-range airliner that was a smaller version of the DH.86 Express biplane, reducing the engine count from four to two.  It reached service in 1934 and became popular almost immediately with good sales at home and abroad.  With the outbreak of WWII, many of the civil airframes were impressed into military service as trainers and communications aircraft, where it was given the name Dominie.  Many new airframes were also built to military specifications, and after the war they and the former civilian airframes were returned to their former role, while de Havilland moved forward with the Dove.  There were such a variety of versions of the Rapide that they were allocated to different series to help with the confusion, most of which revolved around the engine and propellers fitted to the airframes.


The Book

The book by author Adrian M Balch is in the usual Warpaint format of portrait A4(ish) with a soft card cover but for the time being at least, with higher page counts of recent editions, it utilises a perfect binding instead of the usual pair of staples to accommodate the genuine total of 44 pages plus content printed on the four sides of the glossy covers, including a two-page spread of plans in 1:72, penned by Sam Pearson.  The initial section details the birth of the type in detail, with some interesting titbits of information included, then the subsequent pages detail the different types and Series, including those on floats and skis.  Many of the later photos are in colour, with some from the many overseas operators such as Lithuania and even American service, as well as the usual official sources and historical records that were kept by the developers, restorers, civilian operators, and manufacturers.






The pages include a lot of useful photos with informative captions of aircraft on the apron, on the field, in the air, during trials, and even a photo of the float plane, which is surprisingly graceful looking, as is the ski-equipped aircraft.  The Profiles section shows a range of colours in which the type was painted, including some of the military and more colourful civilian schemes, and a Spanish Nationalist aircraft with scribbled camouflage over a light sand base that may tax your airbrushing skills, especially in 1:72. 






My favourite variant is usually the slightly weird one, but the weirdest is the float plane variant, which although it isn’t at all weird, is pretty attractive.  Of the schemes that are shown in the five pages of profiles, the stars-and-bars does look quite interesting, mainly due to the incongruity of seeing it in US colours.  Seeing that it was used in the Spanish Civil War was quite a surprise too, especially as it fought on the same side as the Germans.  Another scheme shows a captured Soviet airframe that was subsequently captured by the Germans and used by one of their fighter squadrons as a communications aircraft.






The In Detail section is an interesting look at the aircraft at close range that spans three pages, and concentrates on the interior and cockpit on the first two pages, with armament on the third, including exterior bomb racks under the fuselage, and a rather draughty-looking and exposed gun port in the top of the fuselage between the wings, with another in the floor beneath it.  It could have been a tricky proposition clambering down from the top spot without accidentally ejecting yourself out of the bottom port if that was opened at the same time.  Top tip: wear a parachute.


Although we’ve had kits in the main scales for many years, many have been either resin or other short-run offerings, especially in the larger scales.  That’s due to be rectified this year however, as there's a new kit in 1:48 that has been designed with the assistance of a friend of mine that knows a few things about the type.




The Warpaint series always gets a thumbs-up due to their consistent layout and quality.  This is an excellent book that will see plenty of use by anyone interest in, or in building this graceful late biplane.  With the new kit coming soon, it’s well-worth popping one on your bookshelf in anticipation.


Note:  You can buy either the traditional physical version of the book by following the link below, or the digital version if you’re more modern and forward thinking, or have limited physical storage space.  Digital reference is starting to grow on me.


Very highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of



  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds good. But what we need now is a state of the art 1/72 kit from Airfix to go with it.

 The Heller one is reasonable but out of date and needing work


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...