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de Havilland D.H. 82 Tiger Moth in Detail

n text by Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro
n photos by Martin Waligorski

de Havilland had a hit with the D.H. 60 Moth, a cheap, sturdy two-seater with pleasant flying characteristics, first flown in 1925. Flying clubs, private individuals and air forces all bought Moths to use for flight training or just pleasure flights. The Moth and its successors proved their worth by a number of record-breaking flights in the 1920s and -30s. Several other constructions from de Havilland also had "Moth" names, such as the Fox Moth, Puss Moth, Leopard Moth and Giant Moth (and, in a sense, even the Mosquito), but these were completely different aircraft. Direct descendants of the original Moth construction were the D.H. 60G Gipsy Moth, powered by de Havilland's own Gipsy engine; the D.H. 60GIII Moth Major with larger engine and the D.H. 60M Moth with steel fuselage structure which was developed into the D.H. 60T Moth Trainer. The last was a strictly military version intended for basic training and was used not only by the RAF, but also several other air forces around the world, including the Swedish Air Force who had ten Moth Trainers under the Sk 9 designation as well as two Gipsy Moths known as the Sk 7. A number of Moths were license manufactured abroad with the type designation D.H. 60X, e g in Finland by Valtion Lentokonetehdas for use in the Finnish Air Force.

Based on the experiences from the Moth Trainer, an improved version, known as the D.H. 82 Tiger Moth, was developed and first flown in 1931. The most visible difference was the swept-back wings, a consequence of moving forward the centre wing struts so that the occupant of the front seat could bale out by parachute without having to squeeze out between the struts. The D.H. 82 had a 90 kW (120 hp) Gipsy III engine, but was soon supplanted by the D.H. 82A Tiger Moth II with a 100 kW (130 hp) Gipsy Major I and the top of the fuselage skinned with plywood rather than fabric. Other subversions were the D.H. 82B Queen Bee, a radio-controlled version used for gunnery practice, and D.H. 82C, a "winterized" version produced by de Havilland Canada.

The initial production went almost exclusively to the military market and not until 1938 did a trickle get onto the civilian market, but most were soon requisitioned by the Air Force at the beginning of the war. Like the Moth, many air forces apart from the RAF used the Tiger Moth, and a considerable number were also license manufactured. Three were built in Sweden by ASJA, but in total 16+20 of the two subversions were used by the Swedish Air Force as the Sk 11 and Sk 11A. One, escaped from Norway during the German invasion, was used by the Finnish Air Force. Over 7000 (9000, according to some sources) Tiger Moths were built in total.

When air forces began decommissioning Tiger Moths after the war (many were still in use by 1950), an eager civilian market bought them and they were ubiquitous in flying clubs all over Europe. Many are still flying.

The subject for our walkaround is D.H. 82A T6818 at the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon.

de Havilland D.H. 82A Tiger Moth in Detail


Wings and Bits

Modelling the de Havilland Tiger Moth

Considering the importance and the elegant lines of the Tiger Moth, there are surprisingly few kits of it. Airfix and Aeroclub have produced models in 1/72, but they are both currently out of production, as is Matchbox' offering in 1/32. Aeroclub has a Tiger Moth in 1/48 and Pavla has announced a 1/72 kit of the D.H. 82C for early 2005.

  • RAF Camouflage of World War 2, by Michael J F Bowyer, Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1975.
  • Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation, Bracken Books, 1989.
  • Koulukoneet, by Kalevi Keskinen & Kari Stenman, Kari Stenman, 2003.
  • Private Aircraft by Kenneth Munson, Blandford Press, 1970.
  • Att flyga är att leva by Gösta Norrbohm & Bertil Skogsberg, Bokförlaget Bra Böcker, 1975.



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