Cheap to build and less-than-perfect to fly…
Cheap to build and less than perfect to fly, the Tiger Moth became one of the world’s best known pilot trainers in WW II and one of the most versatile post-war civil aircraft ever flown. Its colourful history includes touring, racing, barnstorming, aerobatics, crop dusting, film assignments, bush flying and freight hauling.
The Tiger Moth was the final development of de Havilland’s successful line of light bi-planes which began with the DH Gypsy Moth in 1925. The RCAF received its first Tiger Moth (often affectionately called the ‘Tigerschmidt’) in 1937 for elementary pilot training. Thousands of WWII pilots received their first flying instruction in this aircraft in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
The Tiger Moth was a British design, but Canadian modifications were made. The principal change was a cockpit enclosure to prevent the pilots from freezing to death in winter flying. By 1930, pilots and mechanics of the Ontario Provincial Air Service in Sault Ste. Marie had learned that metal-shod skis did well in wet snow and wooden ones on dry snow. Nearly 1,600 were manufactured in the de Havilland plant in Toronto during the war. After the war, many Tiger Moths were sold to civilian operators and flying clubs.
The Tiger Moth was a harsh teacher. It did everything properly: stalled, spun, recovered, aerobatted with precision. Yet, her light weight and tendency to lose lift in gusty weather resulted in mishaps for inexperienced pilots. The pilot was tested to learn her limitations and work well within them. It was claimed that this was a useful basis for graduation to other aircraft. Tiger Moth enthusiasts will agree that survivable accidents met in Tigers could warrant a chapter in their own right; the Tiger was strong enough to resist almost every attempt at demolition practiced by the student in the normal course of events and slow enough to allow most walking wounded to make a graceful exit if crashed from a height.
Our Tiger Moth was flown regularly by the Red River Tiger Moth Group Ltd. from a hangar at the Arnold Brothers Airport near Oak Bank.
For nearly 30 years, CF-COU flew in virtually every air show held in Winnipeg, and made some long distance trips as well. In 1970, she was the centrepiece of two media stories. The first was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first time an aircraft was used in Canada to cover a news story. The second was a recreation of the 50th anniversary of the first bush flight in Canada from Winnipeg to The Pas, Manitoba; also originally completed with an Avro 504. The aircraft was donated to the Museum in 2005.
Wingspan: 8.94 m (29′ 4″)
Length: 7.29 m (23′ 11″)
Height: 2.69 m (8′ 10″)
Gross Weight: 828 kg (1,825 lbs)
Engines: 140 hp D.H. Gypsy Major 1C
Cruise Speed: 145 km/h (90 mph)
Max. Range: 443 km (275 miles)