de Havilland Tiger Moth
Lightweight, easy to manufacture and fly, the de
Havilland Tiger Moth is to English aviation what the J-3 Cub or N2S-4
Stearman is to American aviation. Based on a line of highly successful
civilian aircraft, the Tiger Moth went on to be the primary basic trainer
for England and the Commonwealth powers during World War II. In the 1920s,
Geoffrey de Havilland designed the famous DH 60 Cirrus Moth which first
flew on February 22, 1925. The Cirrus Moth was a quiet and comfortable
aircraft with a relatively inexpensive price of £830 Sterling. It marked
the beginning of private flying in Britain and throughout the world. The
Taylor Piper Cub was still 10 years in the future.
The early Cirrus Moth was succeeded by several variants: the Genet Moth
the Hermes Moth and the Gypsy Moth. The success of the de Havilland peaked
due to a massive flood. Production rose from one airplane a week to more
than three a day. By 1929, the price had dropped accordingly to a mere
£650 Sterling, and 85 out of 100 private airplanes in Great Britain were
Moths of one model or another. After His Highness, the Prince of Wales
purchased a Moth, the aircraft became extremely fashionable. Society
magazines were full of pictures of sports characters and "bright young
lady pilots" setting out for weekends in the country flying their Moths.
Any kind of private airplane in England became known as "a Moth" much like
any small airplane in America was "a Cub".
All of these Moths were conventional one or two seat biplanes with
un-swept, un-staggered wings. Consequently, access to the forward cockpit
of the two-seat version was restricted by the centre-section struts. This
shortcoming was eliminated in the Tiger Moth by moving the upper wing
section forward to clear the front cockpit while sweeping both wings back
to keep the aircraft's centre of gravity (C.G.) in the desired position.
The prototype DH 82 Tiger Moth first flew on October 26, 1931 and quickly
aroused interest in the Royal Air Force (R.A.E). De Havilland delivered
the R.A.F.'s first Tiger Moths in 1932. When World War II started, the
R.A.F. had more than 1,000 Tiger Moths in service. By the end of the war,
well over 4,200 Tiger Moths had been delivered and the majority of R.A.F:
pilots received their elementary training in a Tiger Moth. In addition,
almost 3,000 Tiger Moths were built in Australia, Canada and New Zealand
for use in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Tiger Moths built, including 5161 in the UK (including 1153 pre-war), 1747
in Canada, 1085 in Australia, 345 in New Zealand, 91 in Portugal, 37 in
Norway and 23 in Sweden.
An interesting variant was
the four-seat Thruxton Jackaroo, with two pairs
of side-by-side seats in an enclosed cabin.
Now, long after its retirement
from active service, the Tiger Moth is still actively delighting aircraft
devotees in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US. Not very long ago, as
D.H. 82 time is measured, one United States aviation magazine featured two
articles, one about the Tiger Moth and its worldwide clubs, the other
about an 80% scale reproduction version of the Tiger Moth in one issue.
Whatever magic there is in having the wind whip by one's ears in an open
cockpit, the de Havilland D.H. 82 Tiger Moth must have it in abundance, if
one judges by the many aviation clubs around the world still dedicated to
see Moth cutaway
Specifications D.H. 82C (Canadian
Engine: One 145-hp
de Havilland Gipsy Major 1C inline piston engine
Weight: Empty 1,115 lbs., Max Takeoff 1,825 lbs.
Wing Span: 29ft. 4in.
Length: 23ft. 11in.
Height: 8ft. 10in.
Maximum Speed: 107
Cruising Speed: 90 mph
Ceiling: 14,600 ft.
Range: 275 miles
Number Still Airworthy: