De Havilland’s famous DH 82A Tiger Moth could trace a direct line of descent from the equally famous de Havilland DH 60 Gipsy Moth of 1925 which is regarded as having made possible worldwide development of the flying club movement.
The Tiger Moth prototype was derived from the de Havilland DH 60 Gipsy Moth. It was powered by a de Havilland Gipsy III 120 hp engine and first flew on 26 October 1931. The RAF ordered 35 Tiger Moth Is which were designated the DH 60T. A subsequent order was placed for 50 aircraft powered by the de Havilland Gipsy Major I engine (130 hp) which was designated the DH 82A Tiger Moth II. The Tiger Moth entered service at the RAF Central Flying School in February 1932. By the start of World War 2 the RAF had 500 of the aircraft and large numbers of civilian Tiger Moths were requisitioned to meet the demand for trainers.
The Tiger Moth is an open tandem cockpit biplane. The fuselage is constructed of steel tubing and covered in a combination of fabric and thin plywood. The wings and tail plane are constructed of timber and covered in fabric. The de Havilland Tiger Moth became the basic trainer aircraft for the Commonwealth Air Forces just prior to and during World War 2. The RAAF had around 100 Tiger Moths stationed at Temora NSW as their principal training base during the war.
De Havilland manufactured 8,811 DH 82A Tiger Moths between 1931 and 1945. A total of seven countries produced the Tiger Moth (England, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). De Havilland in Australia built a total of 1,085 Tiger Moths, 500 of which were exported to other countries. After retirement from active war time service, Tiger Moths began to come on the civilian market and were quickly snapped up by enthusiasts and flying clubs. These superb little aircraft were to remain in short supply, for in the early post-war years very few new light planes were available.
Many Tiger Moths in Australia and New Zealand were used to pioneer the technique of top-dressing and later, of crop spraying, leading to the current worldwide mass production of purpose-built agricultural aircraft.
Even today, Australia has one of the largest collections of flyable Tiger Moths still on the civil register. Whatever magic there is in having the wind whip by one’s ears in an open cockpit, the de Havilland DH 82A Tiger Moth must have it in abundance as it still captures the imagination of most aviation enthusiasts.
The aircraft pictured over leaf is in a serviceable condition and is currently on a long-term lease to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society from Hawker de Havilland.
DH 82A Tiger Moth
Length 7.29 m | 23 ft 11 in
Wing Span 8.94 m | 29 ft 4 in
Height 2.68 m | 8 ft 9 in
Maximum Take Off Weight 803 kg | 1,770 lbs
Empty Weight 506 kg | 1,115 lbs
Maximum Speed 176 km/h | 109 mph (95 kt)
Cruise Speed 148 km/h | 92 mph (80 kt)
Maximum Range (Standard) 486 kms | 302 mls
Power Plant De Havilland Gipsy Major I inverted four cylinder air-cooled piston engine
Maximum Power 97 kW | 130 hp
Propellor Fixed pitch, 1.8 metre diameter, two blades made of laminated timber. The leading edge covered with a thin brass strip to prevent damage.