Cyril Devaux earnes his Pilot’s Flying Badge at No. 3 S.F.T.S Calgary on October 27th 1944. At the time he is unaware of the acquaintance with Tiger Moth N9151 he is about to make.
The last logged flight made in Canada is 24th October 1944. Devaux will not take to the skies again until April 4th 1945 at PRE AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) at No. 6 E.F.T.S Sywell.
Cyril Devaux takes four flights between April 4th and 6th, three with instructor F/O Hunt and one solo. The flights are entered in the log book as:
- Tiger Moth 7465 (2 flights)
- Tiger Moth 142
- Tiger Moth 9151
Here was an obvious challenge to see if any of these aircraft’s could be identified and tracked down. Armed with internet and the extensive production lists of De Havilland aircrafts published on www.airhistory.org.uk an attempt was made.
Icon and identity
The iconic De Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth is a 1930’s design used by the RAF as a primary trainer, it remained in service with RAF until replaced by the De Havilland Chipmunk in the early 1950’s – over 8800 was produced until retired in 1959.
The problem, a constant plague for anyone trying to research warbird’s identities out of log books, is the pilot (bad) habits of only recording the numeric digits in aircraft identity i.e. leaving out any prefix. An aircraft recorded as “123” could potentially refer to several aircraft’s due to the variations of prefixes used which could be up to 4-5 variations i.e. DE123, NM123, FV123 and so forth – many times one have to identify a particular aircraft by ruling out others and such was the case here as well.
Tiger Moth “7465”
The only 4-digit combination of a DH-82A Tiger Moth recorded in service for RAF was “T7465” (c/n #83894).
This particular aircraft is recorded to have served with No. 6 EFTS Sywell, No 6. RFS Sywell and No. 14 RFS Hamble.
The aircraft is unfortunately recorded as a loss due to hitting ground while low flying of Yarmoth Isle of Wight January 23rd 1949.
Tiger Moth “142”
Here is an example of the challenges the lack of recorded prefixes presents – there are 4 variations existing; DE, DF, NM and BD.
Thanks to Mr Andrew Pentland at http://www.airhistory.org.uk we have been able to establish the following:
- DE142 – was stationed at No. 10 EFTS Yatesbury and Weston, No 3 GTS and Northleach
- DF142 – was stationed at No. 21 Booker
- BD142 – was an impressed machine which served with No 3 GTF and 214 Squadron (Bomber squadron comms aircraft).
This leaves us with NM142 (c/n #86462) which per Mr Pentland can be traced as serving with No. 6 EFTS Sywell and No. 6 RFS Sywell as with T7465 above.
NM142 (c/n #86462) is transferred to civilian register as G-ANLE in 1953 and flown as a crop duster by Airspray Ltd. The aircraft is damaged beyond repair in an incident February 20th 1964 over Tillingham, Essex.
Tiger Moth “9151”
There is only one DH-82 Tiger Moth serving with the RAF that used the four digit combination of 9151 and that is N9151 (c/n #82270).
This is also the aircraft that Cyril Devaux flew during his one Tiger Moth solo – a 35 min flight on April 6th 1945.
N9151 (c/n #82270) is transferred to civilian register as G-AOYU in 1956, she changes owners several times and is eventually sold to a Canadian private owner and registered as C-GABB in 1977. Through various changes of ownership she is since 2009 on static display at Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada.
So, in a weird twist one of the very aircraft’s that Cyril Devaux flew in UK almost ends up back where his flying career started. Wetaskiwin is only about 270kms from No. 5 EFTS High River where he took his first flight.
The aircraft awaits you Nick, go say hello.
Update January 2021
Since publication of this article there has been an incredible development.
In contact with the owner of Tiger Moth N9151, Reynolds Heritage Preservation Foundation, we asked if they would consider to receive and take a picture of The Log Book with the aircraft. Director Mr Byron Reynolds happily agreed to not only facilitate such request but also offered to take The Log Book flying again with the words:
I’ll put it in the old girl and fly it around for 35 minutes or so… your father will have flown it again +/- 75 years later, if only in spirit.
We are sincerely looking forward to this occasion and are extremely grateful for the offer.