De Havilland Hornet Moth

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DH.87 Hornet Moth
Hornet moth dh87b g-admt arp.jpg
1936 de Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth
RoleTrainer and Tourer
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight9 May 1934
Statusstill in operation
Primary userprivate owner pilots
Number built164

The de Havilland DH.87 Hornet Moth is a single-engined cabin biplane designed by the de Havilland Aircraft Company in 1934 as a potential replacement for its highly successful de Havilland Tiger Moth trainer. Although its side-by-side two-seat cabin made it closer in configuration to the modern aircraft that military trainee pilots would later fly, there was no interest from the RAF and the aircraft was put into production for private buyers.


Design and development

DH.87A Hornet Moth retaining the original tapered wing design. Wetaskiwin, Alberta, June 1996 DH.87A Hornet Moth Pointed Wingtips 06.99R.jpg
DH.87A Hornet Moth retaining the original tapered wing design. Wetaskiwin, Alberta, June 1996

The prototype first flew at Hatfield on 9 May 1934 and, with two other pre-production aircraft, embarked on an extensive test program that resulted in the first production aircraft (designated DH.87A) completed in August 1935 having wings of greater outboard taper. These were found to cause problems, especially when landing in three-point attitude: there was a tendency for the tips to stall, causing embarrassment to the pilot and often damage to the aeroplane. From early 1936, de Havilland offered owners of the DH.87A replacement wings of the new squarer shape at a reduced price in exchange for the original wings. Designated DH.87B, new aircraft from about manufacture Number 68 were built with the new square wings. This wing reduced the overall span by 8 inches (20 cm). The alterations slightly increased overall weight at some penalty to performance.

Production was 164 aircraft, of which 84 were placed on the British Register. Many were impressed for military service during World War II, mostly being used by the RAF as liaison aircraft.

Small numbers survived the war and with time became highly prized by vintage aircraft enthusiasts. A small number are still flying, over seventy years after production ceased.


The second Hornet Moth DH87.jpg
The second Hornet Moth
ex-RAF 1936 de Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth at Cotswold Airport, England, in 2018 Ex-RAF 1936 de Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth (W9385, now G-ADND) at Cotswold Airport 29Sept2018 arp.jpg
ex-RAF 1936 de Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth at Cotswold Airport, England, in 2018
DH.87B Hornet Moth G-AHBL, Kemble (2019) De Havilland DH.87B Hornet Moth G-AHBL, Kemble, England arp.jpg
DH.87B Hornet Moth G-AHBL, Kemble (2019)


Civil charter operators and pilots 1935–2009

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark [1]
Flag of France.svg  France
Flag of India.svg  India
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey - TC-101

Military operators

Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom

Specifications (DH.87B)

1936 de Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth cockpit Hornet moth dh87b g-adne arp.jpg
1936 de Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth cockpit

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1938, [2] De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 [3]

General characteristics


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  1. Hitler's Savage Canary by David Lampe ISBN   978-1-84832-574-6 pg15
  2. Grey, C.G.; Bridgman, Leonard, eds. (1938). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1938. London: Sampson Low, Marston & company, ltd. p. 31c.
  3. Jackson 1987, p.355.
  4. Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.