The Tiger Moth holds a special place in Canadian aviation history for it was used as the primary trainer for the majority of the nearly fifty thousand pilots trained in Canada under the British Commonwealth Training Plan in WWII.
It was produced in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Norway and Sweden as well as England. Production totalled 8389.
The origin of the aircraft can be traced back to the 1925 DH60 Moth. Powered initially by the 60hp Cirrus engine, the aircraft became a mainstay of British flying clubs. A developed version, the DH60T Moth Trainer was offered to the Royal Air Force as a primary trainer but they showed only lukewarm interest. The designers then went back to the drawing board to make some required improvements. The main change was the need to improve access to the front cockpit, which was restricted by the presence of the aircraft’s fuel tank directly above the front cockpit and the rear support struts for the upper wing. The solution adopted was to move the upper wing forward but sweep the wings back to maintain the centre of lift.
The other significant change was to use the Gipsy engine which was inverted relative to the Cirrus-that is the cylinders were now on the bottom of the engine instead of on top. This change had two effects; the propeller was now higher off the ground giving better clearance and, the view over the nose was improved. The modified aircraft now designated DH82 Tiger Moth first flew on October 26, 1931. These improvements warranted a Royal Air Force contract for 35 aircraft and other orders soon followed. In the summer of 1932 a slightly improved engine, the Gipsy Major I was fitted to the aircraft, this, together with some minor changes to the airframe resulted in the major production version, the DH82a Tiger Moth. This version was the last version built in England.
CANADIAN BUILT TIGER MOTHS
In 1936 a contract was awarded for 25 aircraft to be built for the RCAF in Toronto at de Havillands’ Downsview plant, subject to some modifications to suit Canadian conditions. An enclosed, heated cockpit, metal struts for the wings instead of wood and other smaller modifications were made at the request of the RCAF. During production more changes were made including the addition of brakes and a tailwheel to take advantage of the hard surface runways then coming into use in Canada. These changes justified a new designation of DH82c and over 1500 were built and used to equip training squadrons across Canada.
‘AUDREY’, the ECAF’s Tiger Moth
Our Tiger Moth C-GSTP, serial #86508 was manufactured by Morris Motors in Cowley, England in 1943.
The aircraft was taken on strength by the RAF in March of 1944 and was used by the RAF until April of 1946 when it was transferred to the Armee de L’ Air (French Air Force).
The CCAF had Audrey christened in honour of Audrey Robertson, the late wife of CCAF member Jim Robertson. Both Audrey and Jim contributed enormously to the Museum’s Work.
AIRWORTHINESS: Airworthy (flown regularly)
LENGTH: 23 ft 11 in
WINGSPAN: 29 ft 4 in
POWER: 145 hp
ENGINE: 1 x de Havilland Gipsy Major 1C
MAXIMUM SPEED: 107 mph
CRUISING SPEED: 90 mph
SERVICE CEILING: 14,200 ft