The DH82A seen here under stormy skies at the Great Vintage Flying Weekend, Keevil, is that rare survivor, an Australian-built de Havilland Tiger Moth. It became obvious to the Royal Air Force, as soon as the Second World War broke out, that the supply of Tiger Moths from UK sources (including Morris Motors of Cowley, a 'shadow factory') would be insufficient. The RAF’s Central Flying School had received their first Tiger in February 1932, and there were close to 500 already serving both with the CFS and with many of the newly formed (and civilian-operated) Elementary Flying Training Schools which were dotted around the country. Arrangements were quickly made for the overseas production of the DH82A, principally in Canada and Australia, to fill the needs of those countries and also supply machines for the Empire Air Training Scheme (sometimes known as British Commonwealth Air Training Plan). Australia had already been the recipient of 100 DH82A’s from RAF stocks, and had assembled 20 more Tigers from imported fuselages and locally-made wings in their new Bankstown, Sydney plant, when in 1940 they received an order from the RAF for Tigers to be sent to South Africa and Rhodesia. However, the sudden outbreak of hostilities between Japan, and the USA, the Netherlands, and the British Empire in December, 1941, meant that these Tiger Moths were retained in Australia for local needs.
Here we see ’48′, A17-48 (built in Sydney in 1940), at the Great Vintage Flying Weekend, Keevil, finished in an early-war scheme of all-over yellow (promulgated for training aircraft at this time) with RAF-style roundels, complete with a red centre; these were removed following a ‘friendly fire’ incident when an RAAF Catalina was attacked by a USMC Wildcat. A17 was the Australian type-code for all Tigers; (A24=Catalina, A20=Wirraway, A68=Mustang, A46=Boomerang, A58=Spitfire, etc). Powered by a 130hp DeH Gipsy Major 1C, driving a Hoffmann HO21 propellor, this is one of 1,069 DH82A aircraft built by De Havilland Australia up until February 1945, and used by the RAAF and RAN during and after World War Two on training, communications and liaison tasks. This photograph shows the external control cables for the rudder, the external fuel tank (above the front cockpit), the anti-spin strakes (just in front of the tailfin) and the ’no step’ marking on the trailing edge of the wing.
Post-war, like many others, A17-48 was sold off to the civilian market and given an Australian registration of VH-BLX. Next seen in the USA, registered N48DH, it was sporting a post-war RAAF all-silver finish with yellow training bands at Van Nuys, California in June 1973. Eventually, in 1989, the aircraft was sold on to the British Register as G-BPHR, and now is in the capable hands of the ‘A17-48 Group’ of Wanborough, near Swindon, Wiltshire and is back in a completely correct early-war RAAF scheme. This Tiger is a fine testament to the longevity of the type, and the soundness of the De Havilland design.