de Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth

Aircraft overview:

Compared with the open-cockpit Tiger Moth trainer, the Hornet Moth cabin biplane tourer offered better performance, and the comfort of an enclosed cockpit with side-by-side seating, a relative novelty for the time. Refinements included carpets, leather upholstery, folding wings to aid storage, wheel-brakes and a castering tailwheel, leg-fairings which rotate sideways-on to form airbrakes, and an optional electric starter. It was also configured to fly slightly nose-down, giving an excellent forward view. The much larger fuel tank needed for touring was located behind the seats below the luggage space, and used engine-driven pumps. The aircraft’s higher performance came in part from the enclosed cabin filling the gap to the top wing, so giving reduced drag, despite a narrower gap between the upper and lower wings. The initial DH87A, flown at Hatfield in 1934, introduced wings of tapered and pointed planform, for more efficient cruise. But these gave a stall first at the tips, losing aileron control and causing the wing to drop. By 1936, near-rectangular planform wings were being offered at no cost as a performance/safety alternative. In total, 165 Hornet Moths were built.

Aircraft specifications:

Power Unit: One 130 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major 1

Wing Span: 31 ft 11 in (9.73 m)

All-up Weight (A.U.W): 2,000 lb (907 kg)

Max Speed: 124 mph (200 kph)

Ceiling: 14,800 ft (4,511 m)

Range: 620 miles (998 km)

On display at the Museum:

The Museum’s exhibit was built at Hatfield in 1935 as the last of the DH87A type, and first flown by Geoffrey de Havilland himself. It was later converted to DH87B type with the rectangular wings. It saw wartime service as a communications aircraft. It was acquired in 1974 and restored by 1988. It has a simple vane-type Air Speed Indicator under the port upper-wing leading edge. But there is also a pitot-static head under the lower starboard wing.