Out of all of the wonderful historic aircraft housed in the Shuttleworth Collection, one aircraft is arguably more significant than the rest, DH60X Moth G-EBWD.
The de Havilland DH60 marked the first of the classic Moth line of aeroplanes, having been developed from the far larger DH51 (also on display at the Shuttleworth Collection). The first prototype of this significant type made its first flight in February 1925. As an attempt to make the DH60 as user friendly as possible it was fitted with folding wings, allowing for far easier storage. Early examples of the airframe were powered by Cirrus engines, with later examples being replaced by the de Havilland Gipsy engine, giving this moth its more familiar title of Gipsy Moth.
The DH60 Moth became a hugely popular aircraft in private hands and with flying clubs. The design proved so popular that further development was carried out which would ultimately arrive at the iconic DH82a Tiger Moth. Another claim to fame for this historic type was being used by Amy Johnson to fly from England to Australia in 1930, making Johnson the first female pilot to complete such a flight.
‘BWD was the first aircraft that Richard Shuttleworth ever owned, having bought the airframe in 1932. Having never been based at any other airfield in the years since, this Moth has the rather impressive claim to fame of having been based at a single airfield longer than any other aircraft!
This Moth is a DH60X, the “X” plates to the braced undercarriage featured on this aircraft, which at the time of purchase was powered by a modest 65hp Cirrus before a more powerful Cirrus Hermes (105hp) was installed.
During the early days of the airframe’s operations at Old Warden, the folding wings were put to good use, with the Moth making itself at home in the shed opposite the control tower, a sight which has been recreated at collection shows over the years.
Unlike many light aircraft, ‘BWD was not called into action by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and remained stored on the airfield.
This graceful de Havilland Moth has not only made history by being based at Old Warden for so many years, but also marks the first in a long line of unique aircraft given an incredible life of flying as part of the Shuttleworth Collection and has brought joy to many over the years as part of the collection shows and provided Richard Shuttleworth with his first taste of aircraft ownership.