View Full Version : Unidentified Aircraft

Iron City
29th Dec 2003, 23:02
At the following URL the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has an unidentified photograph with the title "American Moth Gypsy" on it and no other information.


vintage ATCO
30th Dec 2003, 06:19
It looks vaguely like a DH.71 Tiger Moth but only two were built, both stayed in the UK. I say vaguely because it doesn't look quite like the photos in Putnam's de Havilland Aircraft.

American Gipsy Moth's were DH.60M Moths, and obvioulsy a biplane.

I'll ask the dHMC Secretary!


30th Dec 2003, 16:04
It seems much more likely to be related to Harvey Doyle of Vulcan American Moth fame who had nothing to do with U.S.-built D.H. Moths and probably a one-off racer of the kind that proliferated in the late 1920s/early 1930s. Whatever, I do wish Americans would learn to spell Gipsy correctly in its D.H. connection!

vintage ATCO
30th Dec 2003, 19:27
dHMC Secretary confirms it is not a DH.71.

He believes there was an 'American Gypsy Moth' which had nothing to do with DH and never pretended to.


Lu Zuckerman
30th Dec 2003, 22:19
To: Aerohack

I just ran Gipsy through my spell checker (American) and it was corrercted to Gypsy. So much for a common language.

:E :E

30th Dec 2003, 22:30
As part of written English, both Gypsy and Gipsy are correct - I have no idea quite why de Havilland chose the Gipsy spelling, other than perhaps he liked the presence of a vowel in the word... Gipsy does look less clumsy to me.

In another thread, I recalled reading an old Pilot article written by Alan Bramson about Tigers in which he managed to use both spellings of the word!



30th Dec 2003, 22:31

"Two nations divided by a common language", as someone once said.

As a Brit who copy-edits an American publication I have a foot in both camps, as it were. An esteemed U.S. colleague once called me "a godammed nit-picking, rivet-counting limey". Perhaps he was right...

Iron City
30th Dec 2003, 23:06
Aerohack- you beat me to the divided by a common language quote (think it was Churchill, if not it sounds like something he would say)

The last time I had to take an english class y could be used as a vowel, at least in the US, before 1970 or so. Now I think nobody cares.

Well. No wonder the National Air and Space Museum people have had a hard time identifying this. Some searching finds a Davis Vulcan aircraft when Vulcan Aircraft and Doyle Aircraft were acquired by the Davis Aircraft Corp in 1929. Apparantly the V-3 and V-3 racer were based on the de Havilland Moth. After being acquired by Davis it became the D-1. These were Moth based and stayed biplanes and all mounted radial engines (Le Blond, Kinner or Warner Scarab )

The Doyle brothers (Harvey and Wilson) left Vulcan and formed their own Doyle Aero Corp. in 1928. By 1929 they were bought by Detroit Aircraft Corp and sold to Davis Aircraft By 1930 they were bankrupt. Several other Doyle designs were built as the Detroit Corp DAC Parasol, O-2 Oriole and O-3. All had radial engines so they do not fit the picture.

The "real" license build DH were by Moth Aircraft acquired by Curtiss -Wright Corp in 1930. There were 3 derivatives of DH-60s, the main difference being engines (85hp Gipsy, 95hp Wright-Gipsy, and 76hp Cirrus Mk II). Last of these were the Wright-Gipsy powered version built in 1930.

The picture appears to have something very like a Gipsy engine, so it could be a one-off homebuilt using one of these powerplants. The foward part of the aircraft and to a lesser extent the landing gear and wing do look fairly "Mothy" so it could be somebody's effort at a monoplane version of a Moth. Given that all the Doyle aircraft had radial engines and were biplanes (except the DAC Parasol) this may be a dead end.
The aviator in this picture seems to be treating the prop very casually, either he knows the mag is really disconnected or he doesn't really need his left arm.

30th Dec 2003, 23:59
The "Y" is effectively a vowel - as in Lysander - though I can't recall it being described as such at school. Ah! The mysteries (misteries?) of the English language! I suppose the Cirrus Moth might just have become Cyrus...

Iron City, is the Davis comapny you mention the same that produced the DA-1? I saw one at Old Rhinebeck last year which was a parasol monoplane with a radial.

Incidently, I think the Bramson Gipsy variations mentioned in my post above were more type-setting error (it was a very old copy of the mag!) than a mistake by Mr Bramson, whose excellent tome "The Tiger Moth Story" is an extermely well read and rather battered volume on my bookshelf now!

Iron City
31st Dec 2003, 01:08
It appears the Davis (as in Walter C Davis Aircraft Corp. Richmond Indiana) is the same as the Davis DA-1 at Rhinebeck. Same configuration, same Warner Scarab radial engine as a D (or DA) 1-W .

In my earlier I stated the Doyle /Vulcan was a biplane, which is incorrect, they were all parasol or shoulder wing aircraft. The geniology appears to be Doyle brothers O-2 Oriole, a parsol powered by a radial engine/O-2 special with a Martin engine, then then the Vulcan V-3 based on a de Havilland Moth then the V-3 morphing into the D (or DA) 1 in different forms (mostly it appears different engines and a different wing configuration). All the D (or DA) and V aircraft had radials except one V-3 refitted with a Cirrus engine.

Self Loading Freight
4th Jan 2004, 06:53

There's a good precis of the "two nations divided by a common language" quote at http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/lingo.htm , which is in any case well worth a browse. The site's run by one Mike Todd (nah, get away), BBC Radio 4 duty manager, whose masterly exposition of the etymology of "OK" on the same site has achieved canonical status (well, it was quoted by Melvyn Bragg).


4th Jan 2004, 17:16
Seeing as we have a thread involving linguistic pedantry, do you mean an educated book or a book you've read a lot Treadigraph? :D

And all this US - UK English stuff is easy! Try being an Australian married to a Canadian. Luckilly we don't fly together, as we can't even agree on the names of most parts of the car, what to call the go juice and where you leave one!


4th Jan 2004, 17:50
Gor blimey Guv, I means it wenna Toff's skool... they also do boxing at Eton don't they? :}

4th Jan 2004, 17:58
Freight: Thanks for that link. As an aviation writer working for both British and American publishers for the past 30 years it's a subject dear to my heart, and I've long had on my shelf a little book called 'What's the Difference?' which is essentially an English English/American English translator. It's a pity I didn't loan it to an old chum of mine whose linguistic gaff has become the stuff of legend among a group of us who work as a British/American editorial team at airshows. Retiring from the dinner table one night this chap enquired of one of the American ladies, "Would you like me to come to your room and knock you up in the morning?" Collapse of all Americans present, puzzled looks of the What? What? variety from the Brits. (For those who haven't got translators, 'knock you up' is a euphemism for 'impregnate' in American English, whereas all my pal was offering was a wake-up tap on the door...)

Self Loading Freight
5th Jan 2004, 03:43

I work as a technology writer (*) for an American-owned company, and my copy often ends up over there while lots of theirs makes the return journey. Vocabulary isn't normally a problem (although I do have fun when I'm over in the US with phrases like "gasping for a fag" and "murdering an Indian"): some of the different attitudes to journalism are more, er, involving. In the US, there are a lot more rules about avoiding 'conflicts of interest' - you can't accept anything more than a twenty dollar meal from a PR, for example - but why then is so much of the copy more hagiographic?

And applauding at press conferences. It's just plain WRONG!


(*) which means my Ppruning is almost entirely for fun. One day, I hope, I'll do some more stuff about flying: currently that's limited to stuff like EMC compatibility, navigation systems and so on.

Iron City
14th Jan 2004, 22:32
After poking round more in various places I can not find another copy of the picture or of the same aircraft from the sameor similar angle.

The closest I can come is the Miles Hawk and am wondering if any made it to the US (or, conversely, if the picture was taken in the UK and made it to the US sans airplane) Would anyone recognize the aviator in question as one of the Miles brothers or others associated with the Miles organization? This could be a long shot because apparantly everybody and their brother got into the act. (I'm assuming it is not Blossom in the picture)

Have also requested NASM to put another print up on their web site if they can that does not have the background blanked out with clever (?) photographic tricks. This is not Lenin's tomb and this isn't May 1 for goodness sakes.

The common language not being so common is funny sometimes, but not when you must spend loads of dollars getting the Harrier manuals translated from English into American. Stuff like night line check calling for "...a fuel sample cup and a torch..." can go terribly wrong with a literal minded kid who only speaks American

15th Jan 2004, 01:42
Hi Iron City,
It would be good to track it down, but I suspect that the 'clever photographic tricks' are on the print the NASM's got. That sort of retouching was very common with publicity shots - particularly those used by newspapers and magazines, and is nothing to do with censorship, often it's to drop out a background or enhance the contrast in a print for newspaper publication.

My feel is definitely NOT hawk, or deH, but there's better people to comment here than me - though it does have a homebuilt feel...

Remember "don't faucet, just tap"