De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth
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De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth

The success of the de Havilland Moth as a civil trainer led, inevitably, to the development of a military version known as the D.H.60T Moth Trainer. Compared with the earliest civil versions the D.H.60T was strengthened to allow it to operate at a higher all-up weight, and it could also carry four 9-kg (20-lb) practice bombs under the fuselage. It could also be fitted with a camera gun, or reconnaissance cameras, and was therefore suitable for various training roles. To aid escape from the front cockpit in emergency, the rear flying wires were angled forward to the front wing root fitting, and the cockpit doors deepened. However, centre-section struts still surrounded the front cockpit, and in a new trainer which was developed to Specification 15/31 these were moved forward to provide improved egress. To offset the effect of resulting centre of gravity changes caused by staggering of the wings, the mainplanes were given a small amount of sweepback. An 89kW Gipsy III inverted inline engine was installed, the sloping line of the engine cowling providing improved visibility from the cockpit.

Eight pre-production aircraft were built, still designated D.H.60T, but bearing the name Tiger Moth. These were followed by a machine with increased lower wing dihedral and sweepback. This aircraft, designated de Havilland D.H.82, was first flown at Stag Lane on 26 October 1931. An order for 35 was placed to Specification T.23/31, and first deliveries were made to No. 3 Flying Training School at Grantham in November 1931 . Others went to the Central Flying School in May 1932, and a team of five CFS pilots displayed their skill and the inverted flying capability of this new trainer at the 1932 Hendon Display. Similar machines were supplied to the air forces of Brazil, Denmark, Persia, Portugal and Sweden and two, with twin floats supplied by Short Brothers, were built to Specification T.6/33 for RAF evaluation at Rochester and Felixstowe.

De Havilland then developed an improved version, with a 97kW Gipsy Major engine, and plywood rear fuselage decking in place of the fabric covering of the initial production aircraft. This was designated D.H.82A and named Tiger Moth II by the. RAF, which ordered 50 to Specification T.26/33. Tiger Moth Us had hoods which could be positioned over the rear cockpit for instrument flying instruction, and were delivered to Kenley between November 1934 and January 1935. Others were supplied to the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the de Havilland School of Flying, Brooklands Aviation Ltd, Phillips and Powis School of Flying, Reid and Sigrist Ltd, Airwork Ltd and Scottish Aviation Ltd for the Elementary and Reserve Flying Schools which these companies operated under the,RAF expansion scheme. No fewer than 44 such schools were in operation in August 1939, although 20 of them closed when hostilities began.

Pre-war licence manufacture of the Tiger Moth included aircraft built in Norway, Portugal and Sweden, and by de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, whose prewar output included 227 D.H.82As. The company later built 1,520 of a winterised version, designated D.H.82C, which had a 108kW Gipsy Major engine with a revised cowling, sliding cockpit canopies, cockpit heating, wheel brakes and a tailwheel in place of the standard skid. Skis or floats could be fitted if required, and some examples were powered by a Menasco Pirate engine when Gipsy Majors came into short supply. A batch of 200 D.H.82Cs was ordered by the US Army Air Force, with the designation PT-24, although they were diverted for use by the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The outbreak of war saw civil machines impressed for RAF communications and training duties, and larger orders were placed. A further 795 were built at Hatfield before the factory was turned over to de Havilland Mosquito production, when the Tiger Moth line was re-established at the Cowley works of Morris Motors Ltd, where some 3,500 were manufactured. De Havilland Aircraft of New Zealand built a further 345, and in Australia de Havilland Aircraft Pty produced a total of 1,085.

On 17 September 1939, just two weeks after war had been declared, TV Flight of the British Expeditionary Force Communications Squadron (later No. 81 Squadron) was despatched to France. Throughout the winter and the following spring, the unit's Tiger Moths operated in northern France, providing valuable communications facilities until the Dunkirk evacuation, when surviving aircraft were flown back to Britain.

Preparations were also made for the Tiger Moth to be used in an offensive role, to combat the threatened German invasion. Racks designed to carry eight 9kg bombs were fitted under the rear cockpit or, more suitably, beneath the wings. Although some 1,500 sets of racks were made and distributed to the Flying Schools, none were used operationally. Rather earlier, in December 1939, six coastal patrol squadrons were formed, five of them equipped with Tiger Moths. However futile this may seem, it was considered that despite an inability to attack, the sound of any engine might deter a U-boat commander from running on the surface and thus reduce his capacity to attack shipping.

In the Far East a small number of Tiger Moths were converted for use as ambulance aircraft, the luggage locker lid being enlarged and a hinged lid cut into the rear fuselage decking, providing a compartment some 1.83m long which could accommodate one casualty.

It was in a wartime trainer role, however, that the Tiger Moth made its greatest contribution. The type equipped no fewer than 28 Elementary Flying Training Schools in the UK, 25 in Canada (plus four Wireless Schools), 12 in Australia, four in Rhodesia (plus a Flying Instructors School), seven in South Africa, and two in India. After the war 22 Reserve Flying Schools and 18 University Air Squadrons flew Tiger Moths, most reequipping with the de Havilland Chipmunk between 1950 and 1953.

Mention should be made also of the D.H.82B Queen Bee radio-controlled target aircraft, which was essentially a version of the Tiger Moth with a basic structure of wood: it had the Moth Major fuselage, Tiger Moth wings, Gipsy Major engine, a wind-driven generator to provide electrical power, and a larger-capacity fuel tank. The prototype was flown manually on 5 January 1935, and 380 were built subsequently.

More than 8,000 Tiger Moths had been built by the end of the war and, as can be imagined, there were large numbers to be disposed of as war-surplus. The RAF transferred many for civil and military use to Belgium, France and the Netherlands, but in the UK and elsewhere they became available in quantity on the civil market. In addition to obvious use as trainers, or for sport and pleasure, they found unexpected employment. Many gave valuable service in an agricultural duster/sprayer capacity, a role which proved to be of great importance to New Zealand.

A number were the subject of conversion schemes, usually to provide enclosed accommodation. The most ambitious was that carried out by the British company Jackaroo Aircraft Ltd, which involved widening the fuselage to seat four passengers in side-by-side pairs; open cockpit and enclosed cabin variants were included in the 19 Thruxton Jackaroo conversions completed by the company in the period 1957-9. It was once said that the initials D.H. stood for Durable and Hefficient, and that is particularly true of the Tiger Moth. In 1991 large numbers remain in use worldwide, veritable treasures that are difficult to acquire and likely to appreciate in value and continue to provide pleasure for many years to come.

De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger MothA three-view drawing (700 x 598)

 ENGINE1 x de Havilland Gipsy Major 1C inline piston, 108kW
    Take-off weight828 kg1825 lb
    Empty weight506 kg1116 lb
    Wingspan8.94 m29 ft 4 in
    Length7.29 m24 ft 11 in
    Height2.69 m9 ft 10 in
    Wing area22.2 m2238.96 sq ft
    Max. speed172 km/h107 mph
    Cruise speed145 km/h90 mph
    Ceiling4450 m14600 ft
    Range443 km275 miles

Comments1-20 21-40
Peter Jerdan, 16.03.2016

Peter Jerdan...I have the dubious distinction of having flown backwards in a Tiger Moth on my second solo at Bankstown, Sydney. ( National Service Training, 1954). A 60 knot line squall went thru Bankstown as I was on final - at 58 knots...
I made my first command decision at that stage to increase my approach speed. Took me 20 minutes to reach the field!

Peter Jerdan, 16.03.2016

Peter Jerdan...I have the dubious distinction of having flown backwards in a Tiger Moth on my second solo at Bankstown, Sydney. ( National Service Training, 1954). A 60 knot line squall went thru Bankstown as I was on final - at 58 knots...
I made my first command decision at that stage to increase my approach speed. Took me 20 minutes to reach the field!

Dave Bernard, 03.02.2015

I was awarded an Air Cadet Flying Scholarship in the mid 1960s. Originally assigned to the West London Aero Club at White Waltham - someone bent the oleo on a Tri-Pacer and I ended up at Shoreham where I was told to report to the West Sussex Aero Club. To my delight I was assigned to fly a DH82C. Easy to fly - but difficult to fly well and I never reached the latter standard!

Dave Smith, 19.09.2014

I learnt to fly initially on T.M.'s at No.4 FTS,RAF Heany, Southern Rhodesia. Our course, in 1951, was the very last to use T.M.'s in the RAF;following courses used Chipmunks & in the UK, T.M.'s had already been superceded by other types. To Janet;-Sven is correct that seating was tandem but "pilot i/c in rear seat" is correct for passegers only; for pupils, instructor was in front seat. I remember my 1st instructor putting his arms over the side & raising & lowering them to make the a/c go up & down.

Frank Parker, 22.06.2014

I learned to fly on Tiger Moths in the 1950's at White Waltham. At that time the CFI at West London Aero Club was Joan Hughes, a former ATA pilot signed off to fly everything in the RAF inventory from trainers to four engine bombers. The advantage of flying with Joan was that her higher pitched voice made it easier to hear her over the Gosport tubes with the engine running! With my main instructor, Mac, also ex-ATA, we just throttled back to talk!

jon elbourne, 16.05.2013

Was the Tiger ever fitted with radio shielded magnetos?

John Stottle, 13.09.2012

I had the pleasure of flying the Tiger Moth with the Peshawar Flying Club in Peshawar West Pakistan. It is the most fun flying I have ever done. Its registration was AP-AHZ.
Raqeeb Kahn was my flight instructor. We both went on to
become DC-10 captains, he with Pakistan International Airways and I with United Airlines.

Kevin Morrow, 27.08.2012

I saw these at Cotswold Aiport of the Best of British Show. There were nine of these and they called them the "Nine Tigers".

Kevin Morrow, 27.08.2012

I saw these at Cotswold Aiport of the Best of British Show. There were nine of these and they called them the "Nine Tigers".

Sven, 12.01.2012

Janet. Moth trainers were all fore and aft seating. Pilot in command sat in the rear seat. Communication was through a gosport tube.quite simply a speaking tube between the cockpits. Other points of note. Magneto ignition switches were on the outside of the fuselage in front of each cockpit. Climbing on the cowling to reach the fuel tank was on a cold day a miserable task.

Frank Russell, 12.01.2012

I trained as a student pilot on T-Moths at 10 EFTS, Pendelton,Ont,Canada in the winter --- the hardest part was keeping warm --- Loved that machine!!

Janet Woods, 12.10.2011

I do have a question - something simple to moth pilots I imagine, but I haven't been able to find out so far. It's for a fictional book so I need to get my facts straight. It's 1934 and the hero is teaching the heroine to fly. Did the early moth have side by side seats for training then - or fore and aft? If the latter,how was the tuition carried out? Would the trainee sit up front and the pilot shout instructions through a megaphone, or would he have duplicate controls he could use? Radio communications perhaps? Thanks if you can help.

sunderajan, 09.07.2011

Way back in 1950, I learnt flying in a tiger moth at the CEYLON AIR ACADEMY Ratmalana Airport Colombo. Just about to get my solo after 20 hours of dual, with Capt.Amarasekara i was posted back to Bombay. Great flying, taking off in a Tiger was a lesson by itself, you had to look way sidewards almost fully, to keep the aircraft straight till of course the tail came up, and then the tiger off by itself.

Kenneth Ball, 18.02.2011

I learnt to fly in this aircraft at the London Aeroplane Club while an apprentice at De Havilland Aircraft Co. A joy to fly.

Robert Stenton, 16.01.2011

Please can you tell mewhere to get just the Plans to build a 20 inch wingspan, Tiger Moth

Ennis Pipe, 11.11.2010

My father was an instructor in the TM in Rhodesia during the war. Lovely little airplane and I still have a photo taken by him in a formation of TM's.

Vincas, 27.09.2010

I just buit this aircraft 1:1 scale replica using Chech Walter M-332 140 HP engine.Lithuanian Airclub until 1940 soviet invasion had 1 Gipsy Moth and 2 Tiger Moth's.I built registration number LY-LAM.Airplane flies great.

Tom Gilliland, 31.08.2010

Back in the fifties when my dad was farming in hill country adjoining the Strezleckie ranges of Gippsland, Australia, the only feasible economical method of applying fertilizer was by aerial cropdusting. He hired the services of an ex-fighter pilot who had bought a surplus DH82 Tiger Moth which he converted to carry superphosphate. Initially he operated from an airstrip on the nearby plains, but then he had an airstrip built on the side of a hill. I have since moved away from the region but when I went back for a visit just recently, I was amazed at how little room he had to operate from. Since the strip sloped slightly downwards I imagine it would have helped in giving him lift, still not much room for error! About a year ago,while travelling from the Gold Coast to Brisbane, I saw a Tiger Moth being flown by a joy ride operator. He put it through such intense aerobatics it left me speechless!

Stephanie, 09.08.2010

What is the estimated value of the DH 82-C? Country and year of manufacture, respectively: Canada, 1941

Geoff Alcock, 07.02.2010

During World War II my father worked at Burnaston Aerodrome, near Derby, which had a whole hangar full of Tiger Moths. I sat alone in many of them and "flew" them in combat missions without even leaving the building or staring the engines. Imagine today if a child tried to wander into a hangar alone. Back then flight staff would wander in and be amused at seeing me sitting in the planes.

1-20 21-40

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