How de Havilland moved into air-to-air missiles

With propellers on the way out, de Havilland upped the stakes and started producing some serious weaponry…

The world of business constantly evolves, and those who don’t move with the times get left behind. And so it was that de Havilland, for so long a manufacturer of propellers that had featured on hugely successful World War II aircraft such as the Spitfire and the Lancaster, faced less demand for this key part of their operation. So instead, they looked to the future and became one of the first British companies to become involved in rockets and air-to-air missiles.  

Their first, at the start of the 1950s, was the Firestreak – the first weapon of its kind to be used by the RAF and featuring on prominent aircraft such as the Electric Lightning and de Havilland’s very own Sea Vixen. The Red Top missile followed, before the radar-guided Skyflash which would be used by the Tornado. Watch the de Havilland Museum’s curator, Alistair Hodgson, give you a guided tour in the video above…