De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth II
One of a batch of 350 Tiger Moths built by Morris Motors Ltd at Cowley, Oxfordshire between July 1943 and March 1944, this aircraft was built as a standard Tiger Moth Mk.II two-seat biplane by October 1943, with the serial number NL846.
It was stored at 20 MU, RAF Aston Down from 18/10/1943 but never saw active RAF service. Transferred to RAF St. Mawgan on 18/4/1946, NL846 was then acquired by the French Armeé de L'Air and flown to Romorantin, France during 4-6/5/1946. It flew with the French Air Force - as NL846 - until May 1951 when it was civilianised by the Aero Club du Gatinais at Vimory and joined the French civil register as F-BGEQ.
In 1957 ownership passed to the Aero Club de la Loire Inferieure at Nantes and, in 1962, F-BGEQ was officially transferred to the Aero Club du Maine at Le Mans. However, the Certificate of Airworthiness expired on 30/6/1965 and the aircraft's final flight was made around this time; the registration was cancelled around November 1968. By 1973, the aircraft was parked outside at Le Mans airfield, yet ownership had now changed to the Automobile Club de L'Ouest and it was next stored at the Le Mans museum.
F-BGEQ was still stored at Le Mans in 1992 but, after a twinning ceremony linked the Brooklands and Le Mans Museums, it was agreed that it should be loaned to Brooklands Museum - initially for 14 years.
The dismantled aircraft was transported to Brooklands by the National Rescue Group (NRG) by road and sea on 27-28/11/1992 - with sponsorship from Naston Ltd and NRG - both companies then based in the original Brooklands Aero Clubhouse. The aircraft has now been largely restored to airworthy standards with the help of professional restoration specialists.
DATA: One 130hp (97-kw) de Havilland Gipsy Major I four cylinder air-cooled engine; Wing span 29' 4" (8.94m); Length 23' 11" (7.29m); Height 8' 9½" (2.68m); Weight (empty 1,115lb (506kg); Max. speed 104mph, 167 km/h at sea level; Ceiling 13,600' (4,145m); Range 300 miles (483km).