De Havilland DH.85 Leopard Moth

DH.85 Leopard Moth
Leopard Moth exported to Australia in 1935, exhibited airworthy at the Drage Air World Museum at Wangaratta Airport Victoria in 1988
Role Three-seat cabin monoplane
Manufacturer de Havilland
First flight 27 May 1933
Introduction 8 July 1933
Primary users United Kingdom private pilots
Australian pilots
Produced 1933-1936
Number built 133

The de Havilland DH.85 Leopard Moth is a three-seat high-wing cabin monoplane designed and built by the de Havilland Aircraft Company in 1933.

Design and construction

It was a successor to the DH.80 Puss Moth and replaced it on the company's Stag Lane and later Hatfield production lines. It was similar in configuration to the earlier aircraft, but instead of a fuselage with tubular steel framework, a lighter all-plywood structure was used which allowed a substantial improvement in range, performance and capacity on the same type of engine. The pilot is seated centrally in front of two side-by-side passengers and the wings can be folded for hangarage.

Operational history

The prototype first flew on 27 May 1933 and in July won the King's Cup Race at an average speed of 139.5 mph (224.5 km/h), piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland. A total of 133 aircraft were built, including 71 for owners in the British Isles, and 10 for Australia. Other examples were exported to France, Germany, India, South Africa and Switzerland. Production of the Leopard Moth ended in 1936.

44 Leopard Moths were impressed into military service in Britain and others in Australia during World War II, mostly as communications aircraft. Only a few managed to survive six years of hard usage although a small number were still airworthy seventy years after the last was completed. Six remained operational in the U.K. in 2009.


Military operators

 Belgian Congo
  • Force Publique - Aviation militaire de la Force publique. First aircraft (C-1) entered service 9 October 1940.[1]
  • Dutch Army Aviation Group
 South Africa
 Southern Rhodesia
 Straits Settlements
  • Malayan Volunteer Air Force
 United Kingdom
  • Royal Air Force - a number of former civil aircraft impressed into service as communications and liaison aircraft during the Second World War.
  • Royal Navy - at least one former civil aircraft impressed into service.
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Airline Operators


Specifications (DH.85)

Data from De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 [4]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 1, pilot
  • Capacity: 2 passengers
  • Length: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
  • Wingspan: 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m)
  • Wing area: 206 ft2 (19.1 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,290 lb (586 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 2,225 lb (1,011 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × de Havilland Gipsy Major 4-cylinder air-cooled inverted straight engine, 130 hp (97 kW)


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


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