de Havilland
DH 87 
Hornet Moth

Hornet Moth G-AELO in flight


The DH-87 Hornet Moth is a direct development of the DH 60. It was a cabin biplane, designed as trainer and touring aircraft. . The first prototype flew on 9 May, 1934. The original Hornet Moth was built with tapering wings, but these were found to cause problems especially when landing in three-point attitude when there was a tendency for the tips to stall, causing embarrassment to the pilot and quite often damage to the aeroplane. The  aircraft entered production in 1935 and a total of 165 DH 87s were built.

When the problem of the Hornet Moth  wings was discovered De Havilland offered owners of the DH87 a replacement wings of the new squarer shape at a reduced price in exchange for the original wings.

During WWII the RAF and FAA used a few as liaison aircraft.

The Fleet Air Arm possessed a total of 5 De Havilland Hornet Moths, 4 were purchased in Canada as seaplanes under contract No B.974735/39 and an additional one was impressed. The first was delivered to the RN Communications at Lee on Solent in July 1939, and the first squadron to receive the Hornet Moth in March 1940, was 781 squadron at Lee on Solent (P6785). The majority of the aircraft were delivered to 781 squadron and the last one was paid off in January 1945.

Fleet Air Arm history
    Hornet Moth
    Total FAA 1939-1945:        5
    First delivered to RN:          1939
    First squadron 1939-1945:    781 3.1940
    Operational squadron:          1
    Last served with RN            1945
Aircraft Type:
De Havilland Hornet Moth
Primary Role:
First Flight: 
9 May 1934
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
De Havilland
One 127 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major I engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wing Span: 9.73mm Length: 7.61m Height: 2.01m Wing Area: 20.44m2
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight: 563kg Max.Weight: 885kg



Speed: 200km/h Ceiling: 4510m Range: 998km
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History
None with FAA

Surviving aircraft and relics
Less than 10 Hornet Moths are known to survive in museums, one at the De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre (UK), another at the Aces High Flying Museum (UK) and a third at the Woodford collection (UK). There is also another at the Nelson Aviation Company (Australia). There is also at least one in private hands in the US.

de Havilland D.H.87 Hornet Moth Registered: G-ADOT

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum, London Colney: de Havilland D.H.87 Hornet Moth Registered: G-ADOT was first flown in May 1934 this is one of the last surviving examples of 165 aircraft built.


Hornet Moths advertised for sale in 2000 in the de Havilland Moth Club Moth online Magazine.

Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 
 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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