Aircraft Between The Wars »

de Havilland DH.83 Fox Moth

Designed in late 1931 as a trans-channel passenger aircraft, the DH-83 Fox Moth could carry three or four passengers in the enclosed cabin, in addition to the pilot who sat in a separate cockpit.

ZK-APT under the hand of restorer Stan Smith, taxis back after a display at Ardmore Aerodrome.  Photo: © Historical Aviation Film Unit

The wings, tail group and engine are the same as those used in the familiar Tiger Moth (which at the time was being built as a military trainer), yet the Fox shared much the same performance as the two-seat trainer, making it a surprisingly efficient little aeroplane. These aircraft are credited with playing a major part in opening up the rugged west coast of New Zealand's South Island.

The pilot sat in a raised cockpit behind the small enclosed passenger cabin, which was usually fitted with three seats for short-range hops. The "Speed Model" was fitted with a canopy and fairing. The wings folded to enable the aircraft to be stored in confined spaces.

ZK-APT was originally purchased (new) by the Marlborough Aero Club in 1947, and it was the 17th aircraft in the M.A.C. fleet. The Fox Moth was successfully operated for 16 years until 1963 when the aircraft was damaged after a crash landing in a paddock near Marlborough's Bluff Station—a problem with the engine meant the aircraft had to be force landed. The lack of local roading at the time meant that the wreckage needed to be salvaged by men on horseback—a challenging exercise at the time.

After the salvage operation, the remaining parts of the aircraft (ZK-APT) were eventually sold to well-known New Zealand pilot Stan Smith, a young man at the time, who spent over 30 years restoring the aircraft to her former glory. In 2018 Smith was convinced to sell the aircraft to PMH Aviation Ltd so that they could return the aircraft to Omaka Aerodrome, from whence she had started her journey some 55 years previously.

The Mosquito Launch Spectacular Airshow at Ardmore Aerodrome in Auckland (New Zealand) featured a wide variety of de Havilland aircraft types. Many are shown here during their display at the show -- several DH.82a Tiger Moths and DHC-1 Chipmunks, and a single example each of a DH.60 Gypsy Moth, DH.83 Fox Moth, DH.84 Dragon, and a DH.94 Moth Minor.

Fox Moth ZK-ADI is another of the type that has been regularly seen in New Zealand skies at various airshow events. The following video shows three aircraft from the de Havilland stable at Omaka Aerodrome in New Zealand in 2009.

This video shows three de Havilland airliners from the 1930's, as seen at Omaka Aerodrome in New Zealand in 2009.

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