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de Havilland Tiger Moth

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The Tiger Moth would prove itself to be a successful trainer for the Royal Air Force and other air forces around the world. Small numbers of the type would be sent to France at the outbreak of the Second World War and the de Havilland Tiger Moth would also play a small role in the U-boat war.

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 version that could be used by the military. Designated the D.H.60T Moth Trainer the new trainer was strengthen to enable the aircraft to carry four 20lb practice bombs as well as reconnaissance cameras or a gun camera. The Royal Air Force was at this time using the D.H.60G Gipsy Moth.

Although changes had been made to the aircraft to make it easier to escape from which included deeper cockpit doors and the rear flying wires angled forward and to meet the Air Ministry Specification 15/31 the centre struts were moved forward to make escaping the aircraft easier and the D.H.60T would have power supplied by the 120-hp Gipsy III inverted inline engine.

Named the Tiger Moth, under the designation D.H.60T, eight pre-production aircraft were produced, this was then followed by a re-designation of the aircraft to D.H.82 which featured changes to the wing and on the 26th October 1931 at Stag Lane it would make its maiden flight. This was followed by an order for thirty five Tiger Moths built to a new Specification T.23/31 which would enter service as the Tiger Moth Mk I during February 1932 with the Royal Air Force's Central Flying School. 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 Tiger Moth Mk II, designation D.H.82A, followed and was powered by the 130-hp Gipsy Major engine 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 and fifty of these were ordered.

A winter version, known as the D.H.82C, featuring cockpit heating and canopies was built by de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd with power supplied by the 145-hp Gipsy Major engine but when this engine was in short supply the Menasco Pirate engine was installed. 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 during the winter/spring of 1939/40 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

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Tiger Moth Mk I 109 mph 300 miles 17,000 ft none
Tiger Moth Mk I side profile image
Tiger Moth Mk II 109 mph 302 miles 13,600 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.

Tiger Moth Mk II de Havilland Aircraft Museum
Tiger Moth Mk II Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Tiger Moth Mk ? National Museum of Flight, Scotland
Tiger Moth Mk II Newark Air Museum
Tiger Moth Mk II Royal Air Force Museum, Midlands
Tiger Moth Mk II Shuttleworth
Tiger Moth Mk II Solent Sky Museum
Tiger Moth Mk II (C) Sywell Aviation Museum

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