The Rarest of Tigers

The Rarest of Tigers

By the end of WW II, more than 8,000 D.H.82s had been built. Large numbers were disposed of as war surplus and were available on the civil market for as little as £50.
A number were the subject of conversion schemes. The most ambitious was that carried out by Jackaroo Aircraft, Thruxton, Hampshire, England in 1956. It involved widening the fuselage to seat four passengers in side-by-side pairs.
Known as the Thruxton Jackaroo, the first aircraft modified to the design flew on March 2, 1957. A grand total of 19 Tiger Moths were so modified between 1957 and 1962.

Thruxton Jackaroo C-FPHZ rolled out of the de Havilland Hatfield factory in 1939 as D.H.82 “Tiger Moth” RAF S/N 6924 and was first issued to 22 Elementary Flying Training School, Traversham, Cambridgeshire. On October 3, 1957, the airplane was registered as Thruxton Jackaroo G-APHZ and received its Certificate of Airworthiness on July 8, 1958.
In the 1970s, the Jackaroo found its way
to Geert Frank’s airstrip in Plum Island, Massachusetts, and was salvaged in 1982 by Tom Dietrich and Frank Evans from Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Its first post-restoration flight took place in 1983.
Stephen Grey comments on its flying characteristics: “It is aerodynamically typical of most airplanes of the period. Like the Tiger Moth, the Jackaroo is unstable about its lateral axis and, as such, requires constant attention. In addition, its narrow gear ensures that every landing is an adventure, particularly in a crosswind. Powered by a very reliable and sweet-sounding Gipsy Major engine, it is very reliable and economical to fly.”
Today, the airplane looks as good as it did 38 years ago when it was first restored, and it can be seen on some rare occasions south of the border, where it always brings a puzzled expression to onlookers’ faces. “It looks like a Tiger Moth, sounds like a Tiger Moth but is not a Tiger Moth ….” Or, is it?

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Entry to the cabin is through a pair of large forward-hinged doors. Their generous glass surfaces provide the pilot and passengers with a good view of the outside world, but it’s nothing to be compared to the Tiger Moth’s open cockpit.

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The Jackaroo retains its tandem disposition of the flight controls moved to the left side of the cabin. Unlike the Tiger Moth, which is flown solo from the back seat, the Jackaroo is flown solo from the front left seat, and an instructor or second pilot can operate the plane from the back left seat.

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The Jackaroo retains the original Tiger Moth 130hp Gipsy Major I engine. However, the Tiger Boys decided to upgrade their Jackaroo a little by installing a 145hp Gipsy Major G1C engine—the same powerplant as the DHC Chipmunk’s.

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The Jackaroo’s instrument panel is typical of WW II-era British trainers with large-face instruments. The seats are staggered to give a little extra elbow room. Noteworthy is the large compass in front of the left seat. The two units in this Jackaroo were manufactured in Canada from a British design.

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The Tiger Boys’ Jackaroo is painted in original factory colors. The basic paint scheme was silver wings and horizontal tail surfaces and below, a mid-fuselage cheat line. The upper surfaces of the fuselage were green, blue, or red.

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This view illustrates the major differences between the Jackaroo and the Tiger Moth. Noteworthy are the wider mid-fuselage, the large doors and the upper wing plugs on each side of the gas tank.

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You find British humor in the most unexpected places.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY GILLES AULIARD

Updated: September 4, 2022 — 3:03 PM

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