de Havilland Leopard Moth

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DH.85 Leopard Moth
DH.85 Leopard Moth VH-UUE Wangarratta Vic 17.03.88 edited-2.jpg
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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

The first prototype Leopard Moth


Leopard Moth, showing complicated wing fold

Military operators[edit]

 Belgian Congo
  • Dutch Army Aviation Group
 South Africa
 Southern Rhodesia
 Straits Settlements
 United Kingdom
  • Royal Air Force impressed into service a number of former civil aircraft, using them as communications and liaison aircraft during the Second World War.
  • Royal Navy impressed into service at least one former civil aircraft.
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Airline operators[edit]


Specifications (DH.85)[edit]

De Havilland DH.85 3-view drawing from NACA-AC-186

Data from De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 [4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • 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 sq ft (19.1 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,290 lb (585 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,225 lb (1,009 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × de Havilland Gipsy Major 4-cylinder air-cooled inverted in-line piston engine, 130 hp (97 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 137 mph (220 km/h, 119 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 119 mph (192 km/h, 103 kn)
  • Range: 715 mi (1,151 km, 621 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 21,500 ft (6,600 m)
  • Rate of climb: 550 ft/min (2.8 m/s)

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ Luc Baudoux, Les Avions de la Force Publique du Congo Archived 2012-12-12 at the Wayback Machine, accessed October 2011
  2. ^ Ketley, Barry, and Rolfe, Mark. Luftwaffe Fledglings 1935–1945: Luftwaffe Training Units and their Aircraft (Aldershot, GB: Hikoki Publications, 1996), p.11.
  3. ^ Pran Nath Seth; Sushma Seth Bhat (2005). An Introduction To Travel And Tourism. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 112. ISBN 978-81-207-2482-2.
  4. ^ Jackson 1987, p.340.


  • Comas, Matthieu (September–October 2020). "So British!: 1939–1940, les avions britanniques dans l'Armée de l'Air" [So British!: British Aircraft in the French Air Force 1939–1940]. Avions (in French) (236): 38–61. ISSN 1243-8650.
  • A. J. Jackson (1987). De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 (Third ed.). London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-802-X.
  • A. J. Jackson (1988). British Civil Aircraft 1919–1972: Volume II (1988 ed.). London: Putnam (Conway Maritime Press).