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The Whitehead DH60 Moth - a model design classic

By: Don O'Neill

Gordon Whitehead’s plan (RM179) for a 45" span .20-powered model of the de Havilland DH60 Gipsy Moth was published in the June 1977 edition of "Radio Modeller". The design is a gem and embodies the philosophy and many of the detail design tips described in Mr. Whitehead’s own definitive book on the subject "Radio Control Scale Aircraft - models for everyday flying." If the topic interests you, and you don’t have a copy, then beg, borrow or (only in extremis!) steal one.

Construction is traditional - balsa, some ply and some piano wire - and, though some forethought is needed, full-size servos can be accommodated easily for four-function control, the ailerons on the lower wings being operated by bellcranks.

I have built two models to this design - one still extant, though retired - and both have been delights to fly. Both had completed weights in the 60 - 62 oz range (compared with Mr. Whitehead’s recommended 55 oz), giving a wing loading of just over 16oz / sq. ft.. Despite this low loading neither had problems coping with fairly stiff breezes.

Both models were finished to represent actual aircraft - the first, completed in 1986 as G-AAMY and the second, in 1990, as G- AAMX, photographs of each appearing in "Aeroplane Monthly" providing ideal references. Though finished to a far-from-competition-standard, both were quite convincing on the ground at a stand-off distance, and even more so when in the air, as the photographs show.

G-AAMY’s maiden flight was at the then flying strip of the Aldershot Model Club on 12 October 1986. Powered (as was her successor) by an OS 25 FSR, she flew impeccably and displayed no vices whatsoever.

Prior to Maiden Flight 12 October 1986

Ready to go - Maiden Flight!

Longish grass no obstacle!

Neither on the maiden flight, nor subsequently, was there occasions to open the throttle above 40% for realistic flight and the split undercarriage had no difficulties in getting airborne from reasonably long grass.

A proud ground crew - 1987

G-AAMY had almost two months intensive flying - including twelve flights on Christmas Eve 1986 - and was finally retired due to landing damage (euphemism for pilot error). She was replaced in 1990, in Nigeria, where I was by then living, by G-AAMX. A tissue and dope-covered fuselage allowed the attractive colour scheme of this aircraft to be reproduced without difficulty. G-AAMX also saw extensive service, at Warri (see photographs) and at Lagos and at time of writing, back in Britain, needs only a replacement of her worn-out engine to get her airworthy again.

G-AAMX refuelling at Warri Airstrip, Nigeria, 1991

G-AAMX almost ready to depart Warri for Lagos

G-AAMX with Ground Support

The truck used as a prop in the above photographs was a joint "Blue-Peter" style effort with my younger daughter Clodia, using corrugated cardboard for the body while the wheels were supplied by Clodia’s no-longer needed baby stroller!

In summary, the Whitehead Moth is a classic of its type, a joy to build, a pleasure to fly and a joy to the eye while remaining robust and highly prang-resistant through its light construction and unobtrusive banded-on wing configuration. I recommend it most enthusiastically.

By: Don O'Neill