Smoke On Go

Tiger Moth recent 90th Anniversary

The Tiger was used in both military and civilian applications, and remains in widespread use as a recreational aircraft today.  Still used occasionally as a primary training aircraft with a few employed offering classic aviation experiences.


The starting point for the DH.82 Tiger Moth was the de Havilland DH.71 Tiger Moth.

Yip, there was another Tiger Moth, a monoplane designed to research high-speed flight and to test engines. Only two were built. 

This classic biplane is typically powered by a de Havilland Gipsy III engine producing 120hp to 130hp; some models are often fitted with more powerful models of this engine.

The Tiger Moth quickly became a commercial success, and models were exported to more than 25 air forces. In addition to the military demand, aircraft were also produced for the civilian market.

In 1932, de Havilland also developed an affordable air taxi from the Tiger Moth; using almost all of the main components of the former in combination with a new plywood fuselage seating four people in an enclosed cabin, marketed as the de Havilland Fox Moth.

The RAF initially ordered 35 dual-control Tiger Moth Is, with a subsequent order for 50 more aircraft known as Tiger Moth II’s. From the outset, the Tiger Moth proved to be an ideal trainer, simple and cheap to own and maintain.

The Tiger Moth entered service at the RAF Central Flying School in February 1932. During the pre-war years, increasing numbers of Tiger Moths were procured for the RAF and by overseas customers; by 1939, nearly 40 flying schools operating the type had been established, nine of which operated civilian-register models, as well.

On the outbreak of World War II, the RAF had around 500 Tiger Moths in service, and she was selected as the basic trainer for the Empire Air Training Scheme.

During WWII, there were 30 flying schools using Tiger Moths in the UK, another 55 in Canada, Australia, Rhodesia and South Africa. Tens of thousands of pilots trained to receive their wings, before converting onto advanced trainers and operational types.

The Tiger Moth was also produced in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Norway and Sweden.

In the post-war climate, impressed Tiger Moths were restored to their former civilian operations and owners.  Large numbers of Tiger Moths were made available for sale to flying clubs and individuals. Due to the type being inexpensive to operate, the Tiger Moth was met with an enthusiastic reception. Additionally, it was put to use for new roles, including aerial advertising, ambulance, aerobatics, crop dusting and glider tug work.


The Tiger Moth responds well to positive control inputs and is fairly easy to fly for a tail-dragger.

One characteristic of the Tiger Moth design is its differential aileron control setup. The ailerons (on the lower wing only) are operated by an externally mounted circular bell crank. The externally mounted aileron pushrod attaches 45° outboard and forward of the bell crank’s centre. This results in an aileron control system operating with barely any travel down on the outside wing of a turn, while the inside aileron travels a large amount upwards. This, with lots of rudder input is exactly what is needed to counteract adverse yaw, of which the Tiger has lots due to the large amount of drag from wings, wires, struts etc.

The Tiger Moth exhibits the fundamental requirements of a good 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. Techniques such as co-ordinated flight must be learnt and used effectively, and the aircraft will show up mishandling to an observant instructor or attentive pupil. 

Its stall and spin characteristics are benign at 25 knots with power.

She has no electrical system and must be started by hand.

The takeoff is uneventful, and it has a reasonable rate of climb.

The Tiger Moth is fully aerobatic. Most manoeuvres are started at about 90 to 110 knots, and it has a VNE (Velocity Never Exceeded) of 140 knots. If fitted, it is important to lock the automatic slats (leading edge flaps) during aerobatic manoeuvres.

There are two methods of landing a Tiger.  “Wheeler” landings by pushing the plane on to the runway, or “Three-point” landings. The latter are quite difficult because there is not enough elevator authority to bring the tail down to the correct three-point attitude if the speed is incorrect.

Over 8000 Tiger Moths were produced and many are still flying today, and the Tiger Moth will easily live past 100 years.

Let’s see if you can top that.