During the Second World War, De Havilland was primarily known for the production of over 7700 Mosquitos. In 1943 De Havilland started to develop a successor for the DH89 Dragon Rapide, of which it had produced nearly 800 examples from 1932. The DH104 Dove had its first flight in September, 1945, only 6 weeks after Japan surrendered. The first aircraft was delivered to Canada in May, 1946 after a short development and test period.
In a world that was still affected by the aftermath of World War II, air travel was limited to a small group of individuals. The Dove was designed for eight passengers, which helped it find a niche in the airliner market of that time. Production of the Dove continued for 22 years, and when it ended, De Havilland had produced 542 civil and military examples.
The biggest Dove operator was the Argentinean Government, which ordered 70 aircraft in two batches for its various governmental departments. It was unusual for a British aircraft to have its largest customer outside the United Kingdom. The Royal Air Force was the biggest British operator with 40 examples in different versions; its last Dove was retired in 1984.