De Havilland DH 83 Fox Moth
The Fox Moth opened an entirely new market for the company yet did not require the creation of a completely new design. Designer A.E. Hagg utilised existing wings, tail group, undercarriage and most of the firewall-forward section from the Tiger Moth, already in production at Hatfield. The Fox Moth was given a new fabric-covered fuselage of spruce and plywood fuselage, locating the pilot in an open cockpit behind an enclosed cabin which accommodated up to four passengers.
The original engine used in the D.H.83 was the 89kW / 120hp de Havilland. Gipsy Ill which was the first of the four cylinder Gipsy engines to be inverted, placing the cylinders to the underside of the crankcase to improve visibility over the nose compared with the 'upright' arrangement used on earlier Gipsy engines. The slightly improved Gipsy IIIa later appeared, subsequently to be produced in thousands as the Gipsy Major of 130 hp.
First flown at Stag Lane on 29 January 1932, the prototype Fox Moth (c/n 4000) G-ABUO was shipped to Canada where it was registered CF-API and was evaluated on both skis and floats with Canadian Airways Ltd. Determined to be a suitably rugged contender for the bush-plane market, a further seven sets of D.H.83 components were shipped to Canada for erection at the DHC Downsview facility. That first machine stayed active throughout the 1930s and the war era to eventually be withdrawn and scrapped in 1950.
The second production aircraft G-ABUT (c/n 4002), was flown to victory by WL.Hope in the King's Cup Race in July 1932. Only slightly modified, the aircraft averaged 124.13 mph on 130hp.
The first multiple purchase customer for the D.H.83 was Edward Hillman, owner of a large fleet of buses who had also been operating a small flying service using Puss Moths. On seeing that he could carry four passengers instead of two on he same engine, Hillman immediately recognised an opportunity and ordered three Fox Moths.
Other multiple users were the Scottish Motor Traction Co. Ltd. which operated eight D.H.83s and Midland and Scottish Air Ferries which used four. In the Southern Hemisphere the Fox Moth found favour in rugged areas of Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea. A total of 24 appeared on the Australian register of which a large number served with flying doctor and bush aid services, including numerous examples that served in New Guinea (now PNG). In New Zealand, Bert Mercer's Air Travel (NZ) Ltd was the countrys first commercial airline and pioneered services on the rugged and remote west coast of the South Island using Fox Moths.
In New Zealand, one was impressed into the RNZAF during 1943-48, and three were owned by National Airways Corp during 1948-56 (ZK-AEK Mohua, ZK-AGM Matahi, ZK-ASP Mimiro).
Production of the D.H.83 reached a total of 98 aircraft completed in England, plus two examples in Australia and one copy in Japan. That machine was modelled after several original examples sold to that country, but it was fitted with a Gasuden Jimpu 3 radial engine of 150 hp. The aircraft went by the name of Gasuden KR- 1 and was christened 'Chidorigo' (Plover). As far as is known, just this one example was built, but it is not recorded as part of acknowledged D.H.83 production.
Post WW2, the de Havilland Canada plant at Downsyiew spooled up to produce the Fox Moth biplane again to fill a need for utility aircraft suitable for bush flying in remote parts of the country.
Utilising the major flying components of the de Havilland Canada D.H.82C Tiger Moth of which 1,523 were produced during WW-II, the post war Fox Moths were quickly and efficiently produced. They featured the uprated 145hp Gipsy Major 10 and a new bubble canopy design specific to this model.
53 were delivered before production ceased completely to make way for the DHC-1 Chipmunk that was beginning to take over production at the plant.
Another example of the D.H.83C (there were no D.H.83A or D.H.83B variants) was completed by Leavens Bros Ltd in 1948.
Engine: 1 x de Havilland Gipsy Major, 97kW / 130 hp
Take-off weight: 939 kg / 2070 lb
Empty weight: 499 kg / 1100 lb
Wingspan: 9.41 m / 30 ft 10 in
Length: 7.47 m / 24 ft 6 in
Height: 2.68 m / 8 ft 10 in
Wing area: 24.25 sq.m / 261.02 sq ft
Max. speed: 182 km/h / 113 mph
Cruise speed: 154 km/h / 96 mph
Ceiling: 3870 m / 12700 ft
Range: 579 km / 360 miles