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de Havilland Tiger Moth

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The Tiger Moth was a training aircraft used by the Royal Air Force, and other air forces around the world, to train its pilots. At the outbreak of the Second World War a number would be sent to France to serve as communications aircraft. The de Havilland Tiger Moth would also play a role in the U-boat war with Coastal Command.

Quick Facts
de Havilland Tiger Moth side profile image
First flight
26th October 1931
Entered service
February 1932
Total built

Front view
Tiger Moth front view photo
Side view
Tiger Moth side view photo
Rear view
Sorry, no view photo available

With the de Havilland Moth proving successful as a civil trainer, thoughts turned to producing a military version. Designated the D.H.60T Moth Trainer it could hold two people, normally the instructor and the pilot under training, sitting in tandem and was strengthen to enable the aircraft to carry four 20lb practice bombs as well as reconnaissance cameras or a gun camera. Further changes, to meet Air Ministry Specification 13/31, had been made to the aircraft to make it easier to escape from, which included deeper cockpit doors, the rear flying wires angled forward and the centre struts were moved forward.

Under the designation D.H.60T, eight pre-production aircraft were produced, this was then followed by renaming the aircraft to D.H.82, and on the 26th October 1931 at Stag Lane it would make its maiden flight. This was followed by an order for thirty five aircraft built to a new Specification T.23/31.

Entering service as the D.H.82, also known as the Tiger Moth Mk I, during February 1932 with the Royal Air Force's Central Flying School. The D.H.82 was powered by a 120-hp de Havilland Gipsy III engine, which gave the aircraft a top speed of 109 mph, range of 300 miles and a service ceiling of 17,000 ft. No armament was installed. The new trainer was displayed at the RAF Display, Hendon on the 25th June 1932 by five pilots of the Central Flying School. As with the original Moth trainer a number were supplied to overseas air forces.

The D.H.82A, also known as the Tiger Moth Mk II, was next and had its fabric covering replaced by plywood in the rear fuselage and the rear cockpit could be covered by a hood to enable instrument flying instruction. Powered by the 130-hp de Havilland Gipsy Major I engine it had a top speed of 104 mph, 300 mile range with a service ceiling of 14,000 ft and had no armament.

The D.H.82B followed and on the 5th January 1935, flying from Hatfield, the prototype flew for the first time. Entering service in May 1937 the D.H.82B was powered by a 130-hp de Havilland Gipsy Major I engine. Its top speed was 104 mph, range 300 miles with a service ceiling of 14,000 ft. No armament was installed.

A winter version known as the D.H.82C, featuring cockpit heating and canopies was built by de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. Fitted with a 145-hp de Havilland Gipsy Major IC engine, but when this engine was in short supply the Menasco Pirate engine was installed, it had a top speed of 107 mph, a range of 275 miles and a 14,600 ft service ceiling and had no armament. These aircraft would serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force with 200 being ordered by the United States under the designation PT-24, although under the Lend-Lease agreement they would be supplied to the RCAF.

After the outbreak of the Second World War (1939 - 1945) the Royal Air Force impressed civil Moths and on the 17th September 1939 'A' Flight of the British Expeditionary Force Communication Squadron was sent to France where they proved invaluable, before returning to Britain during Operation Dynamo (26th May 1940 - 4th June 1940). Five Coastal Command squadrons equipped with de Havilland Tiger Moths were also formed during December 1939 despite being unable to perform an attack on a U-boat. With Britain threatened with invasion over 1,500 rack sets designed to hold eight 20lb bombs were distributed for installation on the aircraft in the event of a German invasion. Small numbers of the type, based in the far east, had modifications made to be able to carry one casualty.

The Tiger Moths main role was that of a training aircraft and at least 78 flying schools used the type with 8,868 built in total, with other countries such as Norway and Sweden building the aircraft under licence.

Technical Details

Click on the aircraft image to view a larger version.

Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
D.H.82 109 mph 300 miles 17,000 ft none
Tiger Moth Mk I side profile image
D.H.82A 104 mph 300 miles 14,000 ft none
D.H.82B 104 mph 300 miles 14,000 ft none
D.H.82C 107 mph 275 miles 14,600 ft none


Click on a photo to view a larger version.
Tiger Moth Mk II

See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

D.H.82A de Havilland Aircraft Museum
D.H.82A Imperial War Museum, Duxford
D.H.82A National Museum of Flight, Scotland
D.H.82A Newark Air Museum
D.H.82A Royal Air Force Museum, Midlands
D.H.82A x 3 Shuttleworth
D.H.82A Solent Sky Museum
D.H.82A (C) Sywell Aviation Museum

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