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?
TEXT & PHOTOS BY GILLES AULIARD