De Havilland Gipsy Moth
De Havilland Gipsy MothRoyal Air Force Museum, Hendon
The Moth played an important part in the development of light-aeroplane clubs in the United Kingdom and became famous for its record breaking flights all over the world. Ordered for the RAF in quantity, it is one of the classic training aircraft of all time and represents a major British success in the golden age of flying.
In the early 1920s de Havilland identified a need for an aircraft to meet the needs of the growing number of clubs and private flyers. In 1926 the manufacturers re-engined the aircraft with the new de Havilland Gipsy engine and a legend was born. With an impressive power to weight ratio the Gipsy Moth became involved in some of the most memorable record breaking flights of the day.
Although a sturdy machine the designers returned once more to the drawing board in 1928 to meet overseas demand for a strengthened version. The new version was produced with a welded steel tube fuselage. The RAF ordered 134 Moths. By 1939 most of these original aircraft had been retired but with the outbreak of war the RAF impressed at least 146 civilian owned Moths. They were used for a wide range of miscellaneous communication activities.
Some aircraft are forever linked with an activity and a particular period. The Gypsy Moth, although designed as a trainer and for touring, was a dependable and affordable machine for some of the pioneering trailblazers and record breakers of the period between the two World Wars.
The Gypsy Moth not only heralded the era of light plane design which continues to this day but provided the affordable basis for a major expansion of light-aeroplane clubs. The aircraft illustrates the Royal Air Force's ability to take up a successful civilian design and adapt it for it own duties.
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