The De Havilland Aircraft Company DH87 Hornet Moth was a single-engined cabin biplane designed in 1934 as a potential replacement for its highly successful de Havilland Tiger Moth 


De Havilland DH87 Hornet Moth prototype E.6
The De Havilland DH87 Hornet Moth prototype E.6 showing original rounded wingtips


The prototype DH87 Hornet Moth E-6 (later G-ACTA) flew for the first time on 9th May 1934 and it combined a biplane configuration with the advantages of fully enclosed side-by-side seating.


There were clear echoes of the De Havilland DH85 Leopard MothDH85 Leopard Moth in respect of the Gipsy Major engine installation although the prototype featured slightly tapered wings with a rounded tip shape.


De Havilland DH87A Hornet Moth G-ADIS
DH87A Hornet Moth G-ADIS showing initial production wing planform.


Before production commenced, the wing planform was changed to a high aspect ratio tapered elliptical shape reminiscent of that used by the De Havilland DH86 Express. In this form, the type was known as the De Havilland DH87A although the tapered wing was found to be prone to sudden tip stall and this gave rise to operational concerns.


De Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth G-ADNE
DH87B Hornet Moth G-ADNE showing the revised rectangular wing planform.


In 1936, one aircraft (G-ADIS) appeared having been modified with new square-tipped wings with very slight taper. This became the new production standard with the aircraft then being known as the De Havilland DH87B.


DH87A owners were invited to have the new wings fitted to replace the pointed originals.


A total of 165 DH Hornet Moths were built, with approximately half of these exported. A number of aircraft also operated on either floats or skis in Canada.


De Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth VH-UXY
DH87B Hornet Moth VH-UXY at Echuca in April 2013



DH87                          One only, prototype E-6 (later G-ACTA)
DH87A Initial production with increased span high aspect ratio tapered wing planform
DH87B Later production with squared-off wing tips. All aircraft modified to DH87B standard



  (i) DH87; (ii) DH87A; (iii) DH87B
Powerplant One 130hp De Havilland Gipsy Major 1
Span (i) 30ft 7in; (ii) 32ft 7in: (iii) 31ft 11in
Maximum Weight (i) 1,800 lb; (ii) 1,925 lb; (iii) 2,000 lb
Capacity  Pilot and passenger
Maximum Speed (i) 117 mph; (ii) 131 mph; (iii) 124 mph
Normal Cruising Speed (ii) 111 mph; (iii) 105 mph
Range (ii) 640 miles; (iii) 620 miles


Numbers and Survivors

Number built 165     Approximately half of these were exported.
Survivors 13 examples are listed in the CAA database, all having current certificates of airworthiness in March 2017. Two aircraft are registered in Australia.

Other information

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