When is a Moth a better Moth? When its made of metal….

Geoffrey de Havilland’s line of biplane sports/training aircraft, which culminated in the DH82 Tiger Moth, began with the first flight of the DH.60 Moth prototype, at the hands of De Havilland himself, in February 1925. That aircraft, G-EBKT, was powered by a rather unusual engine, built by ADC Aircraft – the Cirrus. This consisted, essentially, of one half of a surplus WW1 Renault V-8 engine, and was, therefore, incredibly cheap. The Moth quickly established itself as the prefered equipment for flying schools and aero clubs everywhere. The Moth was so ubiquitous that soon any light aircraft was refered to as a ‘Moth’.

By 1927, De Havilland had a problem; the huge ‘pile’ of WW1 Renault engines had almost run out, and a new engine for the Moth line was needed. In conjunction with Major Frank Halford, a four cylinder, 100hp engine was designed and built for the DH60; the DeH Gipsy I.

The aircraft you can see is a DH60M Moth, built in 1929. Powered by a DeH Gipsy II of 120hp, it represents the state-of-the-art in light aeroplane design for this period. Several significant changes had been made to the original DH60, including the use of a metal tube primary structure for the fuselage, as opposed to wood (hence the ‘M’ for ‘Metal Moth’). If you look closely, you can still see that De Havilland has retained his ‘differential ailerons’ on the lower wing only, and the wings and tail are in the traditional ‘any colour so long as it is silver’  factory finish (the aero club, or individual customer, chose the fuselage colour). This fine example of the breed is seen here at GVFWE 2009, at Kemble, and is now owned by Mr Roy Palmer; it was on the Danish register, prior to being recovered to Britain.

As well as examples for the civilian market, the  DH60 (as the DH60T) was sold to various military customers. The Royal Air Force was not totally convinced, however, and it wasn’t until the sweep of the wings were altered, to enable pilots to bail-out easier in an emergency, and an inverted version of the Gipsy engine fitted, that it finally adopted the Moth as the DH82a Tiger Moth. The rest, as they say, is history.




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