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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 Geoffrey 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 it had purchased after WW1 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 Great Vintage Flying Weekend, 2009, at the Cotswold Airport, Kemble, Gloucestershire, and is now owned by Mr Roy Palmer; it was on the Danish register, prior to being recovered to Britain and fully restored, as you see.

As well as examples for the civilian market, the De Havilland 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, in order 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.

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You're getting warm. (10+ / 0-)

    My favorite biplane is the Tiger are certainly on the right track :)

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:15:09 PM PST

  •  Used to train "the few" (9+ / 0-)

    My father-in-law was a Polish pilot with the RAF.  The picture above shows him with his training crew on a Moth (he's the one all the way on the right).  

    He was the age of my sons when the Germans invaded Poland. Fortunately he left his unit for home, and ended up in a Soviet prison camp. After a bunch of serious mis-adventures, he ended up in the UK (via a U-boat sinking, learning his first words in English (shark, knife)).  Towards the end of the war he met my mother-in-law, an Irish volunteer and settled in the UK. I kid my wife that she's a better American than me, being half Polish and half Irish.

    •  He must have been in the eastern half of Poland.. (6+ / 0-) that was invaded and annexed by the Soviets under a secret pre-war protocol with the Germans.

      The Poles were a vital part of the RAF's fight against the Germans, both with Fighter and Bomber Command. See the film 'Battle of Britain'!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:39:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I saw that movie as a rather young gent... (5+ / 0-)

        of 10 tender years. My father actually took me to see it, with a young friend from down the street. We were thrilled, but I seem to remember my dad later going on about inaccuracies...

        Mind you, this is a man who was 10 in 1940, and has to this day never set foot anywhere on the eastern side of the Atlantic. I really couldn't then, and still can't imagine what he would have found fault with, but, oh well, he's my dad, and he long ago attained the high rank of senior curmudgeon-at-large, so I mutely acknowledge there were "issues" and move on.

        I do remember the Polish pilots, especially the one who took up his Polish-English phrasebook with a passion after having been made into a German prisoner by English farmers who didn't understand him after he was shot down. Brave men they were.

  •  A factoid I did not know. (6+ / 0-)

    I never realized the tin benders got hold of the venerable Moth.  

    I used to know a guy whose nickname was "Crash."   He owned a Tiger Moth, and was infamous for having to make emergency landings on roads and pastures, where he had to replace the spark plugs.  He always carried several sets of plugs and a plug wrench when he flew.  He made a point of never flying over large expanses of water.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:25:44 PM PST

    •  They only got to the fuselage frame, OS.. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, subtropolis, KenBee

      ...most of it was still wood, with plywood and Irish linen composing the rest.

      Sounds like 'Crash' had a bad 'Gipsy' engine; the scraper rings must have been shot - it badly needed a rebuild!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:43:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He blamed it on the inverted engine design. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shortfinals, subtropolis, KenBee

        I blamed it on the nut which held the joystick.  If it ain't broke don't fix it.  However, if it keeps quitting on you at inopportune moments, maybe it is broke.

        I never did find out what happened to the airplane.  I did not go around that airport for a couple of years, and when I went back, the airplane was gone and no one had seen Crash in many moons.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:46:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great stuff SF (3+ / 0-)

    Almost dropped a few bucks on an Airfix Moth the other day.  However my memory of my first one 40 years ago was a disappointment..

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:12:12 PM PST

  •  Float equipped biplane in a movie vs submarine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what was it?

    This is a great movie, somebody here who knows must have seen it, a german submarine hides in a river in south america iirc and is repeatedly attacked by a floatplane/biplane.

    The plane was dark blue and had one float, a radial engine.

    The flying scenes are terrific.

    Maybe it wasn't a biplane, grrrr

    any way, I searched and unusually found no answer, but I did find:

    Some very interesting blog posts about the history of submarines and aviation on board with lots of links, photos, and videos.
    Weekend Warships 3: Submarines - is the old becoming new again?


    Weekend Warships #2: From City, to Admiral, to King!


    Sir Short, you may have already known this, but...

    Seaplane Lighter: A piece of aviation history is rediscovered

    further down the sides is a selection of his posts called

    Weekend Wings article numbering over 40.
      Suchas, also, like this one Mosquito


    The Last Stand of the BiPlane

    Included in No. 3 was an account of the adventures of Japanese submarine I-25 who launched via seaplane,  the only bombing on the US mainland in WW2. I knew about the Japanese sub that shelled 8 miles away from here at Ellwood, been there many times.
      This was two bombing flights to start the incendiary fires ion the NW in Oregon. They also shelled the mainland and sank shipping. I didn't know that.
    ...just sayin...

    Then , my movie search led to this guy, a cranky sounding but well informed, heh, mostly dude who writes about naval aircraft and submarines.


      His opinion, heh, is that the Navy are assholes for allowing the rich guys to screw naval aviation by cursing us with big carriers groups as opposed to the variety and flexibility of other boats than jumbo carriers launched surveillance/attack/defense planes.
       He includes links, rant, photos, videos-really old ones, and all matter of good stuff.
      And he hates helicopters.
      And he was a uh-oh...a Kingfisher pilot in ww2 I think, maybe a Seahawk pilot as well...

    It's very interesting as he mostly uses facts to support his rants, but....not always.

    At one point he says McCain caused the Forrestal fire by being an pranky asshole, which I disagree with , mostly, and then in one bizarre, you gotta see it part, he talks about the hunt for the secret Nazi Antarctica base and their UFO's that shot down planes and stuff, including drawings and photos.

    (I read those accounts and think they got him off the ship because he was:
    1. an asshole
    2. the CINC's son
    3. hated because it didn't sound like he helped fight the fire as many did, but went below.
      Anyway,  it sounds like that to me...but there still are naval people who hate him for that whatever he did or did not do. Video evidence showed he didn't 'do it'...)
    (I didn't know the Nazi's retreated to the south pole and had UFOS/flying saucers.)
    (the stuff you can find on the internet...)

    Hey, brother, fun's where you find it!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:50:51 PM PST

  •  'Murphey's War'...a J2-F Duck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why a Duck?

    I don't know but the flying scenes are freakin awesome, the terror, you hear it and it pops up around a tree right at you.

    It's a movie of fanaticism and lots of high minded stuff, Peter O'Toole is Murphey. It reminds me of Fitzcarraldo sorta.

    Anyway, the J2 Duck is a seriously cool plane.

    And the 'Night Witches'...kind of like thousands of Murpheys...

    They wore their hair uncut for life, yet they cut their hair to comply with orders, so they could fly.

    They used to cut their motors and glide over the targets.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 01:02:34 AM PST

  •  'Night Witches' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think you already posted about these women pilots in Russia ww2?

    The Night Witches - Russian Combat Pilots of World War Two

    The Witches' Way

    For a successful bombing run, the Witches would fly a certain distance from their target and then turn off their aircraft's engine. Gliding in, they would release their bombs before the enemy even knew they were there. The Night Witches' downfall, however, was anti-aircraft measures such as searchlights and flak guns. The Germans at Stalingrad developed what the Russians called a 'flak circus': they would bring out anti-aircraft guns that had been hidden during the day and lay them in concentric circles around probable targets, doing the same with searchlights. Po-2s crossing the perimeter in pairs, in the straight-line flight path typical of untrained pilots, were spotted by the searchlights and then completely destroyed by anti-aircraft fire.

    The 588th, however, developed another tactic. They flew in formations of three. Two would attack the target, attracting the attention of the searchlights, and when all the lights pointed skywards, the women would separate suddenly, flying in opposite directions so as to shake off the searchlights. The searchlight operators would follow the two initial bombers, while the third bomber sneaked in through the darkened path made by her two comrades, hitting the target unopposed. She would then get out, rejoin with the other two, and they would switch places until all three had delivered their payload of bombs. It took tremendous nerve and courage to be a decoy and willingly attract enemy fire, but as Nadya Popova said, 'It worked.'

    linked from, Weekend Wings #4: The Last Stand Of The Biplane
    They flew over 24,000 sorties and dropped several thousand tons of bombs.

    The little Po-2 was superb in this application. Its maximum air speed was slower than the stalling speed of the German fighters which opposed it, so it could dodge them with relative ease. Its tiny 100hp engine wasn't very hot, so it couldn't be tracked by infra-red very easily as a heat source, and the plane's wood-and-canvas construction made it very hard to detect on radar.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 01:51:13 AM PST

  •  Murphy's War...first flight video (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    pretty cool!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 01:54:08 AM PST

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