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De Havilland Tiger Moth

DH.82 Tiger Moth
A Tiger Moth in 1989
Role Trainer
Manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Company
de Havilland Canada
Designer Geoffrey de Havilland
First flight 26 October 1931
Introduction 1932
Retired 1959
Status Retired from military service, still in civil use
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Produced 1931–1944
Number built 8,868[1]
Developed from de Havilland DH.60 Moth
Variants Thruxton Jackaroo

The de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth is a

  • Fliegendes Museum
  • Tiger Moth preserved by Chile's Aviation Museum, at the official Museo's website
  • Western Canada Aviation Museum: De Havilland Tiger Moth (D.H.82c)
  • A photograph of a de Havilland DH.82B Queen Bee
  • Sri Lanka Air Force - Tiger Moth and Chipmunk news
  • Civil and Military Aviation in Iran 1924–1949

External links

  • Bain, Gordon. De Havilland: A Pictorial Tribute. London: AirLife, 1992. ISBN 1-85648-243-X.
  • Bransom, Alan. The Tiger Moth Story, Fourth Edition. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1991. ISBN 0-906393-19-1.
  • Bransom, Alan. The Tiger Moth Story, Fifth Edition. Manchester, UK: Crécy Publishing Ltd., 2005. ISBN 0-85979-103-3.
  • Hotson, Fred. The De Havilland Canada Story. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1983. ISBN 0-9690703-2-2.
  • Ketley, Barry and Mark Rolfe. Luftwaffe Fledglings 1935–1945: Luftwaffe Training Units and their Aircraft. Aldershot, UK: Hikoki Publications, 1996. ISBN 0-9519899-2-8.
  • McKay, Stuart. Tiger Moth. New York: Orion Books, 1998. ISBN 0-517-56864-0.
  1. ^ "De Havilland Tiger Moth (D.H.82)." Retrieved: 12 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b Bain 1992, p. 43.
  3. ^ "de Havilland Tiger Moth 82A." Retrieved: 12 August 2010.
  4. ^ McKay 1988, p. 6.
  5. ^ a b "de Havilland D.H. 82 Tiger Moth." Retrieved: 20 July 2010.
  6. ^ Bransom 1991, p. 41.
  7. ^ "Radio Controls Robot Plane On Pilotless Flight." Popular Mechanics, October 1935.
  8. ^ "Queen Bee G-BLUZ, Aircraft History." Captain Neville's Flying Circus. Retrieved: 31 August 2010.
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Carter, Ian (2004), Coastal Command 1939-1945: Photographs from the Imperial War Museum, Ian Allan, ISBN 978-0-7110-3018-3 (p. 17)
  11. ^ Lake, Deborah, Growling Over the Oceans: Avro Shackleton: The Men and the Missions, 1951-1991, Souvenir Press Ltd, ISBN 978-0285638761 (pp. 7-8)
  12. ^ "de Havilland Tiger Moth II." Retrieved: 20 July 2010.
  13. ^ McKay 1998, p. 57.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Pilot's Notes for Tiger Moth Aircraft." R.A.A.F. Publication No. 416, February 1941.
  15. ^ Bransom 1991, p. 33.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Ketley and Rolfe 1996, p. 11.
  18. ^ 26 November 2011
  19. ^ Yugoslav Air Force 1942–1992, Bojan Dimitrijevic, Belgrade 2006
  20. ^ Bransom 1991, p. 261.


Related lists
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
  • Thunderbird 6, a film which also features the Tiger Moth prominently.

See also

8x 20 lb bombs



  • Crew: two, student & instructor
  • Length: 23 ft 11 in (7.34 m)
  • Wingspan: 29 ft 4 in (8.94 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.68 m)
  • Wing area: 239 ft² (22.2 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,115 lb (506 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 1,825 lb (828 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × de Havilland Gipsy Major I inverted 4-cylinder inline, 130 hp (100 kW)
General characteristics

Data from The Tiger Moth Story [20]

Specifications (DH 82A)

Numerous examples of the Tiger Moth are still flying today (an estimated 250[5]). The number of airworthy Tiger Moths has increased as previously neglected aircraft (or those previously only used for static display in museums) have been restored. A number of aircraft have been preserved as museum displays (amongst others) at the:

de Havilland Tiger Moth (A17-711) in Second World War training colours at the RAAF Museum.
Portuguese de Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth at the Museu do Ar (Portuguese Air Force Museum)
Tiger Moth II preserved at the Polish Aviation Museum, 2006


The aircraft is operated by many private individuals and flying clubs.

Civil operators

 United States
 United Kingdom
 Sri Lanka
 Southern Rhodesia
 South Africa
 Spanish State
 Saudi Arabia
DH.82A Tiger Moth in Royal Norwegian Air Force markings
 New Zealand
  • Malaya Auxiliary Air Force
  • Force Aérienne Congolaise
 Democratic Republic of Congo

Military operators

Tiger Moth in British camouflage in a Belgian museum
DH.82A Tiger Moth in RAAF markings


DH.83 Fox Moth
Used many Tiger Moth components including wings (rerigged to remove sweep), tail and undercarriage with a new fuselage featuring an enclosed cabin for the passengers, and an open cockit for the pilot. Built in both the United Kingdom before the Second World War and in Canada after the war.
Four-seat cabin biplane, modified from existing DH.82A airframes by widening the gap between the fuselage longerons. 19 were converted in the United Kingdom.
Thruxton Jackaroo
PT-24 Moth
United States military designation for the DH.82C ordered for Lend-Lease to the Royal Canadian Air Force; 200 were built by de Havilland Canada.
DH.82 Queen Bee
Unmanned radio-controlled target drone that used Tiger Moth wings and for economy a wooden fuselage based on that of the DH.60 Moth (but with the structural changes associated with the cabane struts having been relocated as per the standard Tiger Moth) was used. The Queen Bee was intended to be operated from either floats or wheels. As of 2008, the sole remaining airworthy Queen Bee resided at RAF Henlow, England. 405 were built.
DH.82C-4 Menasco Moth III
Fitted with American AT-1/AR-2 radio and intended as a radio trainer from outset but project cancelled when shortages of British radios and engines was resolved. The sole example, RCAF 4934 was converted from Menasco Moth II.[16]
DH.82C-4 Menasco Moth II
As DH.82C-2 but with reduced fuel capacity and further detail alterations. One example survives and is on display at Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. 125 built.
DH.82C-2 Menasco Moth I
DH.82C fitted with Menasco D-4 Super Pirate 125 hp inline inverted 4-cylinder engine due to shortages of Gipsy Major engines. Because of the reduction in power, they were used primarily as radio trainers. Externally distinguishable from 82C by opposite rotation of propeller and reversal of the cowling openings. 10 built.
DH.82C Tiger Moth
Cold weather operations version for the RCAF. Fitted with sliding perspex canopies, cockpit heating, brakes, tail wheels and metal struts. Wheels were moved forwards by 9.75" to compensate for the installation of brakes by changing the angle of the undercarriage legs. Powered by a 145 hp (108 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Major piston engine. 1,523 built (including Menasco Moths and PT-24).
DH.82B Tiger Moth III
Improved variant with a de Havilland Gipsy Major III engine, it had a wider fuselage and larger fin. First flown on 1 October 1939 only one was built. In some references the designation is erroneously applied to the Queen Bee.
DH.82A Tiger Moth (Tiger Moth II)
Two-seat primary trainer aircraft. Powered by a 130 hp (97 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Major piston engine and fitted with a hood over the rear cockpit for blind flying instruction. Named Tiger Moth II in RAF.
DH.82 Tiger Moth (Tiger Moth I)
Two-seat primary trainer aircraft. Powered by a 120 hp (89 kW) de Havilland Gipsy III piston engine; renamed Tiger Moth I in RAF.
DH.60T Moth Trainer/Tiger Moth
Military training version of the De Havilland DH.60 Moth. First eight prototype DH.82 configuration aircraft were named Tiger Moth.[15]
de Havilland Canada DH.82C in Commonwealth Air Training Plan "trainer yellow" at the Western Canada Aviation Museum (note the skis)


Landings are straightforward, as the plane is pushed on to the runway at a moderate speed with just the main wheels on the ground, and the tail is held up until speed reduces. The open cockpit allows pilots to move their heads over the side to see the runway. As the aircraft is a tail dragger, it is essential to land it straight with no sideways movement, to avoid ground loops.[14]

The Tiger Moth's biplane design makes it strong, and it is fully aerobatic. However, it has ailerons only on its bottom wing, which makes its rate of roll relatively slow for a biplane, and the ailerons on a Tiger Moth normally operate with a heavy degree of designed-in differential operation (mostly deflecting up, hardly at all downwards) to avoid adverse yaw problems in normal flight. Most manoeuvres are started at about 90 to 110 knots, and it has a Velocity Never Exceeded (VNE) of 140 knots. It is important to lock the automatic slats (leading edge flaps) during aerobatic manoeuvres.[14]

The takeoff is uneventful, and it has a reasonable rate of climb. However, full power should not be maintained for more than a minute to avoid damaging the engine.[14]

A 1933-built Tiger Moth

Because the Tiger Moth has no electrical system, it must be started by hand. This needs to be done with care to prevent being struck by the propeller, which would result in serious injury. Being a tail-dragging biplane, taxiing also requires care. The pilot cannot see directly ahead, so the lower wing can hit obstructions, and it is susceptible to gusts of wind on its inclined, large, upper wing.[14]

The Tiger Moth responds well to control inputs, and is fairly easy to fly for a tail-dragger. Its big "parachute" wings are very forgiving, and it stalls at a speed as slow as 25 knots with power. Its stall and spin characteristics are benign. It has some adverse yaw, and therefore requires rudder input during turns.[14] The Tiger Moth exhibits the fundamental requirements of a training aircraft, in being 'easy to fly, but difficult to fly well' ; the aircraft's benign handling when within its limits make it easy for the novice to learn the basic skills of flight. At the same time techniques such as coordinated flight must be learnt and used effectively, and the aircraft will show up mishandling to an observant instructor or attentive pupil. As training progresses towards more advanced areas, especially aerobatics, the skill required on the part of a Tiger Moth pilot increases. The aircraft will not, like some training aircraft, 'fly its way out of trouble' but will instead stall or spin if mishandled. However the stall and spin remain benign, again showing up deficient piloting without endangering the aircraft or the crew. These characteristics were invaluable to military operators, who must identify between pilots with the potential to go on to fly fighter aircraft, those more suited to lower-performance machines and those who must be relegated to non-pilot aircrew positions.

DH.82A Tiger Moth in 2005

Flying the Tiger Moth

Tiger Moths were often modified to stand in for rarer aircraft in films. Notably, Tiger Moth biplanes were used in the crash scenes in The Great Waldo Pepper, standing in for the Curtiss JN-1. Due to the popularity of the design and the rising cost of flyable examples, a number of replicas (scale and full-size) have been designed for the homebuilder, including the Fisher R-80 Tiger Moth and the RagWing RW22 Tiger Moth.

Royal Navy Tiger Moths utilised as target tugs and "air experience" machines became the last military examples when that service purchased a batch of refurbished ex civil examples in 1956.[13] One became the last biplane to land on an aircraft carrier (HMS Eagle) in the English Channel during the Summer of 1967. On takeoff, the wind over the deck allowed the aircraft to fly but it was slower than the carrier, which turned hard to starboard to avoid a possible collision. These planes remained in service until the early 1970s.

After the development of aerial topdressing in New Zealand, large numbers of ex-Royal New Zealand Air Force Tiger Moths built in that country and in the United Kingdom were converted into agricultural aircraft. The front seat was replaced with a hopper to hold superphosphate for aerial topdressing. From the mid-1950s, these topdressers were replaced by more modern types such as the PAC Fletcher, and a large number of New Zealand Tiger Moths in good flying condition were then passed to pilot owner enthusiasts. It has been claimed that more people have flown themselves in Tiger Moths than in any other plane.

The Tiger Moth might be confused at first glance with the Belgian-designed Stampe SV.4 aerobatic aircraft which had a very similar design layout, with similar main landing gear, slight wing sweepback for both airframes, and similar engine/cowling design. Several Tiger Moths were converted during the 1950s to Coupe standard with a sliding canopy over both crew positions, not unlike the Canadian-built Fleet Finch biplane trainers which served beside the Tiger Moth in RCAF service as trainers in Canada during the war years. Many ex-RAF examples imported to the Netherlands post war were required by the Dutch civil aviation authorities to be fitted with additional fin area, incorporating an extended forward fillet to the fin.

In postwar use, large numbers of surplus Tiger Moths were made available for sale to flying clubs and individuals. They proved to be inexpensive to operate and found enthusiastic reception in the civil market, taking on new roles including aerial advertising, aerial ambulance, aerobatic performer, crop duster and glider tug.

Early aerial topdressing conversion of the Tiger Moth at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in 2009.
Dutch Tiger Moth at Hilversum Airport in 1967, it has the extended fin area required by the Dutch authorities.
Tiger Moth Coupe with spatted undercarriage at Coventry Airport in 1955


In the aftermath of Britain's disastrous campaign in France, in August 1940, three proposals for beach defence systems were put forward. 350 Tiger Moths were fitted with bomb racks to serve as light bombers as a part of Operation Banquet. A more radical conversion involved the "paraslasher," a scythe-like blade fitted to a Tiger Moth and intended to cut parachutists' canopies as they descended to earth. Flight tests proved the idea, but it was not officially adopted. The Tiger Moth was also tested as a dispenser of Paris Green rat poison for use against ground troops, with powder dispensers located under the wings.[12]

Anti-invasion preparations

In December 1939, owing to a shortage of maritime patrol aircraft, six flights of Tiger Moths were operated by RAF Coastal Command for surveillance flights over coastal waters, known as "scarecrow patrols". The aircraft operated in pairs and were armed only with a Very pistol. The intention was to force any encroaching U-boat to dive; one aircraft would then remain in the vicinity while the other would search for a naval patrol vessel which could be led back to the spot.[10] Because they were not radio equipped, each aircraft also carried a pair of homing pigeons in a wicker basket to call for help in case of a forced landing at sea. A 25 pound (11.5 kilogram) bomb was sometimes carried, but there is no record of one being dropped in action.[11]

Coastal patrol

De Havilland Canada in Downsview manufactured 1,548 of all versions including the DH.82C and Menasco-engined variants known as the Menasco Moth. The de Havilland Canada operation also built 200 Tiger Moths to USAAF Lend-Lease orders, which were designated for paperwork purposes as the PT-24 before being delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force. de Havilland Australia assembled 20 aircraft from parts sent from the United Kingdom before embarking on a major production campaign of their own of the DH.82A, which resulted in a further 1,070 being built locally. Additionally, 23 were built in Sweden as the Sk.11 by AB Svenska Järnvägsverkstädernas Aeroplanavdelning, 91 were built in Portugal by OGMA, 38 in Norway by Kjeller Flyfabrikk (some sources say 37 so the first may have been assembled from a kit) and 133 were built in New Zealand by de Havilland New Zealand in addition to a large number of aircraft assembled from kits shipped from the UK.[9]

A radio-controlled gunnery target version of Tiger Moth appeared in 1935 called the DH.82 Queen Bee; it used a wooden fuselage based on that of the DH.60 Gipsy Moth (with appropriate structural changes related to cabane strut placement) with the wings of the Tiger Moth II.[7] There were nearly 300 in service at the start of the Second World War. It is believed the name "Drone" derived from "Queen Bee". These aircraft retained a normal front cockpit for test-flying or ferry flights, but had a radio-control system in the rear cockpit that operated the controls using pneumatically driven servos. Four-hundred were built by de Havilland at Hatfield, and a further 70 by Scottish Aviation.[8]

A 1944-built Queen Bee in 2008.

The Tiger Moth became the foremost primary trainer throughout the Commonwealth and elsewhere. It was the principal type used in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan where thousands of military pilots got their first taste of flight in this robust little machine. The RAF found the Tiger Moth's handling ideal for training future fighter pilots. Whilst generally docile and forgiving in the normal flight phases encountered during initial training, when used for aerobatic and formation training the Tiger Moth required definite skill and concentration to perform well — a botched manoeuvre could easily cause the aircraft to stall or spin.


Royal New Zealand Air Force Tiger Moth aircraft with blind flying hoods for instrument training, early in the war.

During a British production run of over 7,000 Tiger Moths, a total of 4,005 Tiger Moth IIs were built during the war specifically for the RAF, nearly half being built by Morris Motors LImited at Cowley, Oxford.

The RAF ordered 35 dual-control Tiger Moth Is which had the company designation DH 82.[6] A subsequent order was placed for 50 aircraft powered by the de Havilland Gipsy Major I engine (130 hp) which was the DH 82A or to the RAF Tiger Moth II. The Tiger Moth entered service at the RAF Central Flying School in February 1932. By the start of the Second World War, the RAF had 500 of the aircraft in service and large numbers of civilian Tiger Moths were impressed to meet the demand for trainers.

Canadian DH.82C Tiger Moth showing characteristic canopy

Operational history

From the outset, the Tiger Moth proved to be an ideal trainer, simple and cheap to own and maintain, although control movements required a positive and sure hand as there was a slowness to control inputs. Some instructors preferred these flight characteristics because of the effect of "weeding" out the inept student pilot.[5]

One distinctive characteristic of the Tiger Moth design is its differential aileron control setup. The ailerons (on the lower wing only) on a Tiger Moth are operated by an externally mounted circular bellcrank, which lies flush with the lower wing's fabric undersurface covering. This circular bellcrank is rotated by metal cables and chains from the cockpit's control columns, and has the externally mounted aileron pushrod attached at a point 45° outboard and forward of the bellcrank's centre, when the ailerons are both at their neutral position. This results in an aileron control system operating, with barely any travel down at all on the wing on the outside of the turn, while the aileron on the inside travels a large amount upwards to counteract adverse yaw.

The Tiger Moth trainer prototype was derived from the DH 60 de Havilland Gipsy Moth in response to Air Ministry specification 13/31 for an ab-initio training aircraft. The main change to the DH Moth series was necessitated by a desire to improve access to the front cockpit since the training requirement specified that the front seat occupant had to be able to escape easily, especially when wearing a parachute.[2] Access to the front cockpit of the Moth predecessors was restricted by the proximity of the aircraft's fuel tank directly above the front cockpit and the rear cabane struts for the upper wing. The solution adopted was to shift the upper wing forward but sweep the wings back to maintain the centre of lift.[3] Other changes included a strengthened structure, fold-down doors on both sides of the cockpit and a revised exhaust system.[2] It was powered by a de Havilland Gipsy III 120 hp engine and first flew on 26 October 1931 with de Havilland Chief Test Pilot Hubert Broad at the controls.[4]

Design and development

  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
    • Training 2.1
    • Coastal patrol 2.2
    • Anti-invasion preparations 2.3
    • Postwar 2.4
  • Flying the Tiger Moth 3
  • Variants 4
  • Operators 5
    • Military operators 5.1
    • Civil operators 5.2
  • Survivors 6
  • Specifications (DH 82A) 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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