View Full Version : Floats on 1930's Moths

9th Jul 2002, 02:25
I'm looking for data on the floats that were fitted to Gipsy/Tiger Moths (and Queen Bee's). There were several types used, including Fairchild and Fairey, but the information I need is for the Shorts float, rather oddly called the Mussel <g>..

I have a profile drawing and many, many photo's but these miss a couple of vital areas. Two questions.. Can anyone tell me the shape of these floats in plan view - especially the section after the step? Was the aft end of the float a transom section or did they taper to a point (vertical profile)?

I've spoken with Shorts but they don't keep any archives..


9th Jul 2002, 03:16
Jabberwok, I've a couple of photos of Canadian Moths on floats, but I would imagine they would be either the Edo or McDonald Brothers variety. I'll see what I can dig up.
An interesting note. DeHavilland Canada put a DH Dove on floats in this country. It was not a commercial success.:)

Pom Pax
9th Jul 2002, 08:53
See if you can get a copy of Francis Chichester's book(s) on his Gypsy Moth flights from your local libary. It's thirty years since I read it but he alks of the mods he did and a few photos.
His round the world attempt ended in Japan when he snaged a power cable with the floats after take off and was catapulted backwards into the sea.

9th Jul 2002, 10:29
How about the Putnam book "de Havilland Aircraft Since 19wotsit" - they are usually pretty thorough with photos and scale drawings...

You might also try Bramson/Birch "The Tiger Moth Story", which has some drawings but I can't remember if they include the float set up... I have a copy, will try to unearth it tonight if I manage to remember!


9th Jul 2002, 19:42
I've got all those books (and many more) and looked hard at all the photo's. Not a single bit of data on the floats and all the shots are from ahead or abeam.. <g>

There is one tail shot of a Queen Bee in DH The Golden Years but it's from dead astern and provides minimal help...

9th Jul 2002, 20:31
Google found this:

There's a Tiger and Fox Moth on floats, but they look to be recent photos - may not be original floats.

9th Jul 2002, 21:08
Hi Pom Pax,

I'm not sure what floats were used by Francis Chichester but didn't he pick them up cheap from a dockside somewhere?

I recall that he tested them by filling them with water and nothing leaked so he set off on his crossing for Norfolk Island (or was it Lord Howe Island first?). Overnight the aircraft sank. Water was able to get into the floats but not the reverse. He had to rebuild the aircraft to continue the Tasman crossing..

9th Jul 2002, 21:18
Hi Paper Tiger,

The Tiger Moth shot is definitely not Short floats and I'd say the Fox Moth is unlikely - the chine is too straight. On the other hand the Fox Moth has the correct strut arrangement for the Short - they sort of sweep back rather than forwards with other types..

Many thanks for pointing that link out.

10th Jul 2002, 03:02
Jabberwok, the photos I have show a DH60M on floats, circa 1930. The floats have rounded tops, similar to the Edo 2870, and they taper to a point at the rear, no transom. There are no water rudders fitted. The bottoms are not fluted, just straight Vees. The front spreader bar is in line with the propeller, and the step appears to be in line with the leading edge of the lower wing.
You might want to check out www.flight-history.com/ . Check out the photo archives, or contact the moderator. She may be able to help.

15th Jul 2002, 15:26
Hi Pigboat,

A very interesting photo indeed. The float is almost certainly the Shorts version as similar shots suggest what you have just stated - no water rudders. I would suggest that the floats did have a flute but this is hidden in the shadow.

The original installation of these floats was quite different and if you look at your shot again you will see two lines on the float which indicate the original strut attachment positions (although they are probably there for other reasons).

Do you have any photographs showing these floats in plan view?

I might just put together a web page of photo's just to show the confusing variety of float variations on Moths. The more I look around the more variety I see.

16th Jul 2002, 21:17
Hi jabberwok

Sorry, I don't have a plan view of the float installation. I did, however, scrounge up another pic of a DH.60G Gipsy Moth on amphibious floats. It's in the book "Otter and Twin Otter," by Sean Rossiter.
The amphibious installation consists of one float mounted on the aircraft centerline, with a small outrigger float under each wing. Here's what the photo caption has to say:

The DH.60G Gipsy Moth G-AADV in flight. This aircraft was the first amphibious Moth, delivered to Mr.XXX in February 1929. Short Bros. of Belfast supplied floats for early Moths, including those operated by OPAS. The retractable wheeled gear pivoted on a steel rod running lengthwise through the single centerline float.

The float in this picture does have a water rudder, but it's so small that it probably served more as a decoration than anything.:)

OPAS by the way, was the Ontario Provinial Air Service. They used aircraft for forest fire spotting and suppression, beginning about 1925 or so.

17th Jul 2002, 00:10
Hi Pigboat,

Thank you for digging that out. I've checked that particular Gipsy Moth and begin to see a little more clearly how the Moth floatplanes developed.

The first so equipped was DH60, G-EBOT which was fitted with floats developed for the Short S7 Mussel 1 aircraft. Subsequent Moths (both Gipsy and Tiger) appear to have had a standard fit of float which is very similar to the original Mussel design and likewise made by Shorts, as your letter confirms.

Shorts subsequently built the Short S7 Mussel II aircraft but it was scrapped in 1934. The amphibious float arrangement on this aircraft was used on DH60G G-AADV and also G-AAVC.

The only other Moth I know that had a central float was DH60M K2235. This had an experimental float which was a 1:24 scale model of the planing bottom of the Short Singapore II flying boat!

After all that it's frustrating that I can't find any plans or shots of the "standard" Moth float!

19th Jul 2002, 03:24
Hi jabberwok,

You may want to try www.aerospace.bombardier.com/. This is the web address of the company that now owns both Shorts and deHavilland Canada. The pic I described above is from the DH archives, photo number DHC 12672, so they may very well have some info from Shorts.
I'm sure if you contacted the Public Relations department of Bombardier and explained your quest, they'd do their best to help.

21st Jul 2002, 03:13
Hi Pigboat,

That was one of my first actions but the PR guy at Shorts said they don't keep any archive material!

However, things have moved on. I've seen a photo taken at Air World in Wangaratta, Australia of a Gipsy Moth VH-ULM and behind it is a float! Trouble is the museum closed down two months ago and I'm still trying to find out what happened to their exhibits.

The other good news is that I have found that some Short floats exist here in the UK too. Hope to be talking to the owner very soon.

Thank you for all your help - it's been an interesting topic!


21st Jul 2002, 21:53

It might not be the info you are after but you might be interested in the prices DH asked in 1929 for float equipped Gipsy Moths the following extracted from price list No 5 dated July 16th 1929

Wooden fuselage seaplane 950. 0. 0d (Ex seaplane station ready for flight)
910. 0. 0d (dismantled ready for packing)

Metal fuselage seaplane 995. 0. 0d (Ex seaplane station ready for flight)
960. 0. 0d (dismantled ready for packing.)

Complete float undercarriage 310. 0. 0d

Attachement fittings to enable fitment of float undercarriage 3. 18. 6d

Beaching trolley 17. 12. 0d

Hand pump for draining water from inside Floats 1. 17. 6d

Set of lifting cables wth attachment fittings on centre section of fuselage 4. 9. 6d


22nd Jul 2002, 00:32
Hi Wunper,

It isn't, but it's interesting reading! I'm surprised the floats costing is such a high value in relation to the aircraft itself. It explains why so few were made though..


Boss Raptor
22nd Jul 2002, 16:23
Was a red Tiger Moth on floats that used to live at the reservoir near Lydd Airport in Kent, didn't it belong to the Tiger Club?

24th Jul 2002, 02:03
Yes, but this was a unique setup as they fitted the Edo floats from an Aeronca Sedan on it. The aircraft was G-AIVW..