De Havilland DH60X Moth VH-UPU

Following the success of the CAB's first Moth G-AUAE, which arrived in 1925, that same year the RAAF ordered two of the then-new DH60 Moths for delivery the following year. The purpose was to evaluate them as a replacement for the Great War-vintage Avro 504 trainer.

Although these two Moths (A7-1 and -2) did not last long, the trial was favourable and the RAAF placed an order for twenty more (A7-3 to -22), for delivery in 1928. The DH60 Moths gave good service in the RAAF, a further 32 DH60G's being ordered from Larkin Aircraft Supply Company (LASCO) while a single machine was built at Cockatoo Naval Dockyard under the supervision of Lawrence Wackett. A further five were apparently built from wrecks by De Havilland Australia at Mascot whilst eight DH60M's were delivered new from Britain in 1936.

In the early 1930s the RAAF began to dispose of its earlier Moths and this aircraft (c/n 545) was one of a number of ex-RAAF DH60 Moths acquired by the Civil Aviation Branch. It was constructed at De Havilland's factory at Stag Lane, UK, as a DH60X Moth in 1928 and was powered by an 80 hp Cirrus Mk II. It was exported to De Havilland Australia with a UK Certificate of Airworthiness issued on 14 April 1928 as the second aircraft of the second RAAF batch. On arrival in Australia it was erected and delivered to the RAAF as A7-4.

Following RAAF service the aircraft was transferred to the CAB and registered VH-UPU on 2 April 1931. A month later, on 6 May, VH-UPU was allocated on loan to the Bendigo Aero Club as part of the CAB's support for pilot training.

In common with most Moths of that era, VH-UPU suffered at least one major accident and re-build. On 14 December 1934 pilot C. Shaw hit a fence while undershooting on landing approach at Deniliquin, NSW. The undercarriage was torn off and the aircraft badly damaged. During the subsequent re-build, completed on 5 March 1935, the opportunity was taken to install a Gipsy I engine, bringing VH-UPU up to DH60G standard.

In the late 1930s a change of policy by the Civil Aviation Board saw ownership of the various aircraft on loan to Aero Clubs formally transferred to them. On 16 August 1937 VH-UPU was re-registered to the Royal Victorian Aero Club, Essendon, and the photo above shows it at Essendon at around this time. Note the light and dark blue Aero Club stripes on the rudder.

Whilst with the RVAC VH-UPU suffered another forced landing on 17 March 1938 at Bacchus Marsh in the hands of pilot J.W. Bennett when the full speed wheel in a magneto stripped. VH-UPU was finally written off following an accident at Ballarat when pilot J. Wastell had the engine cut out over the city. He made a steep turn towards the showground but collided with a boundary fence. The aircraft was wrecked and water was later found in the carburettor. At the time of the accident VH-UPU had amassed a total flying time of approximately 2,800 hours. It was struck off the Register on 18 April 1938.

(Photo: The Collection P1234-0175)

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