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De Havilland Hornet Moth

DH.87 Hornet Moth
1936 de Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth
Role Trainer and Tourer
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight 9 May 1934
Status still in operation
Primary user private owner pilots
Produced 1935–1938
Number built 164

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 1
  • Variants 2
  • Operators 3
    • Civil charter operators and pilots 1935–2009 3.1
    • Military operators 3.2
  • Specifications (DH.87B) 4
  • In fiction 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Bibliography 6.2
  • External links 7

Design and development

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 Builder's 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
  • DH.87 Hornet Moth : prototypes
  • DH.87A Hornet Moth : production model
  • DH.87B Hornet Moth : production model with wing modification


Civil charter operators and pilots 1935–2009

 United Kingdom
 South Africa
 Turkey - TC-101

Military operators

 South Africa
 United Kingdom

Specifications (DH.87B)

1936 de Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth cockpit

Data from De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 [2]

General characteristics


In fiction

A Hornet Moth appears in Ken Follett's 2002 suspense novel Hornet Flight. It also appears in Jasper Fforde's 2005 mystery novel The Big Over Easy.

Hornet Moth G-ADUR appears in the movie "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971)



  1. ^ Hitler's Savage Canary by David Lampe ISBN 978-1-84832-574-6 pg15
  2. ^ Jackson 1987, p.355.


  • Jackson, A.J. De Havilland Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, Third edition, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-802-X.

External links

  • The de Havilland Moth Club
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