De Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth VH-CAH

One of six Tiger Moths acquired by the Department of Civil Aviation after the war as communications aircraft, DH82a Mk2 VH-CAH (cn 800) was built by De Havilland Australia at Bankstown, NSW. Originally intended for export to Rhodesia for the Empire Air Training Scheme, the aircraft was initially allocated the RAF serial DX743. It was, however, actually diverted to the EATS in Australia and allocated the RAAF serial A17-650.

After the war this aircraft was acquired by DCA from RAAF stock for £400 and converted for civil use. Intended for use in the Department's Papua & New Guinea Region, this was the only DCA Tiger Moth not to receive an enclosed canopy. It was, however, modified with a raked-forward undercarriage which permitted the use of a tailwheel in place of the usual skid. .

The aircraft was registered to DCA as VH-AZM on 20 October 1949. A few months later, on 8 February 1950, VH-AZM was re-registered in DCA’s block as VH-CAH. The photo above shows the aircraft at Melbourne/Essendon, probably early in its civil career


The photo above shows VH-CAH in what appears to be a light blue, white and silver livery at Lae, New Guinea, in 1961-62. The shot is taken at the southern end of the aerodrome by the Huon Gulf. Of interest is the petrol filter funnel, complete with chamois filter, sitting in the filler neck of the fuel tank in the uppper wing centre-section. Also of considerable interest is the VHF radio antenna on the rear fuselage. DCA and AWA did some experiments with lightweight VHF radios in the late 1940s, and all DCA Tiger Moths were subsequently fitted with VHF radio.

The wrecked vessel is the former Japanese passenger steamship Tenyo Maru. During the Second World War the Tenyo Maru was converted as a mine-layer and used by the Japanese Navy. On 10 March 1942 the Tenyo Maru was extensively damaged by US Navy SBD aircraft and was subsequently beached on the reef off Lae. This prominent 'landmark' survived for thirty years until an earthquake in the 1970s caused the visible part of the wreck to slip off the reef into deeper water, where it remains to this day.

VH-CAH was written off not long after this photo was taken when it crashed at Malahing, near Lae, on 25 September 1962.

(Photos: Top-CAHS collection ; Bottom-Daryl Mackenzie collection)

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