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de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk

Lightweight Basic Trainer / Aerobatic Aircraft [ 1946 ]

Nearly 1,300 of the DHC-1 Chipmunk basic trainer were produced from 1947 until 1956 with many global operators using the type.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/14/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

A development of the immediate post-World War 2 period, the DHC-1 "Chipmunk" basic trainer from de Havilland Canada (DHC) entered service in 1946 and saw production reach a respectable 1,284 units between 1947 and 1956. The single-engine, twin-seat low-monoplane product went on to stock the inventories of the Royal Air Force (Britain), the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Belgian Air Force, and the Portuguese Air Force for its time in the air. Despite its Cold War heritage, the design continues to fly in limited numbers today (2021) in both military and civilian market circles.

Despite a glut of available aircraft types following the close of World War 2 in 1945, de Havilland Canada found something of a commercial success with its new DHC-1. The design was used by a plethora of global operators to succeed an aging line of de Havilland "Tiger Moth" biplanes which had reached the end of their general usefulness in the basic training role. Tiger Moths arrived in 1932 and production resulted in a whopping 8,868 total units into 1944. By the end of the war, their obsolescence was unavoidable.

The new DHC-1 emerged from an initiative within Canadian aero-industry to continue producing aircraft products for a rebuilding post-war marketplace. With many air powers managing stables of outgoing aircraft types, the type was right to capitalize on budget-friendly replacements. This placed simple basic training types at the forefront and led Canada-based DHC to develop its DHC-1 to overtake expiring designs of similar role worldwide.

The general form of the DHC-1 was of conventional arrangement with the engine seated at the nose, tandem seating for its crew of two (under a fully-enclosing, framed canopy), and a single-finned tail unit at the rear. The wing mainplanes are straight appendages with clipped tips and positioned low on the fuselage and just ahead of midships. For simplicity, the twin-legged (tail-dragger) undercarriage is fixed in flight. The aircraft was typically powered by a de Havilland "Gipsy Major" engine with the base DHC-1 fitting the 1C 4-cylinder, air-cooled inverted inline piston engine of 145 horsepower driving a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller unit at the nose.

The cockpit offered the basic instrumentation expected of a non-combat aeroplane with all gauges concentrated at the front panel and well-spaced apart. A conventional flight stick sat between the pilot's knees with throttle controls situated to his left hand side..

Dimensions included a running length of 25.4 feet, a wingspan of 34.3 feet, and a height of 7 feet. Empty weight reached 1,515lb against an MTOW of 2,200lb. Performance included a maximum speed of 140 miles-per-hour, a cruising speed close to 105 mph, a range out to 260 miles, and a service ceiling of 15,800 feet. Rate-of-climb was measured at 900 feet-per-minute.

Following the single prototype (which took to the air for the first time on May 22nd, 1946), serial production of the DHC-1 reached 217 units out of de Havilland's Ontario facility and numbers were reinforced by a further 1,000 aircraft produced by the UK under license (under the base "de Havilland" brand label). These were joined by 66 more airframes of which most were completed by OGMA of Portugal.

Variants in the line proved plenty: original Canadian-built Gipsy Major-engined forms ranged from DHC-1A to DHC-1B and included RCAF Chipmunk T.1 and T.2 trainer models. British aero-industry efforts resulted in the Chipmunk T.10 (Mk.10), Mk.20, Mk.21, Mk.22, Mk.22A, and Mk.23 variants with slight changes in between. Portuguese models were summed up by the Chipmunk Mk.20 standard which housed a Gipsy Major 10 Series 2 engien of 145 horsepower (the initial ten were produced in the UK).

Its simplicity of design and operation led the Chipmunk to also be adopted for civilian flight resulting in such forms as the "Super Chipmunk", "Turbo Chipmunk", and "Supermunk".

Belgium retired its Chipmunks in 1955 and Canada followed in 1972. Britain managed their fleet actively until 1996. The Portuguese Air Force continues to fly the type today (2021).

Beyond these operators there ranged Chipmunk users from Burma and Ceylon to Uruguay and Zambia.©MilitaryFactory.com
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de Havilland - Canada
Belgium; Burma (Myanmar); Canada; Ceylon; Denmark; Egypt; Ghana; Ireland; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Malaysia; Portugal; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Syria; Southern Rhodesia; Thailand; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; Zambia
Operators National flag of Belgium National flag of Canada National flag of Denmark National flag of Egypt National flag of Iraq National flag of Ireland National flag of Israel National flag of Jordan National flag of Lebanon National flag of Malaysia National flag of Myanmar National flag of Portugal National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Spain National flag of Syria National flag of Thailand National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Uruguay National flag of Zambia
Service Year
National Origin
Active, Limited
Project Status

Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
Used in the aerial training role to cover basics of flight, general handling, take-off/landing actions, and related.

25.4 ft
(7.75 meters)
34.3 ft
(10.45 meters)
7.1 ft
(2.15 meters)
1,521 lb
(690 kilograms)
Empty Weight
2,205 lb
(1,000 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
+683 lb
(+310 kg)
Weight Difference

1 x de Havilland Gipsy Major 1C 4-cylinder, air-cooled inline piston engine developing 145 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
140 mph
(225 kph | 121 knots)
Max Speed
15,748 ft
(4,800 m | 3 miles)
261 miles
(420 km | 227 nm)
900 ft/min
(274 m/min)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


DHC-1 "Chipmunk" - Base Series Designation.
DHC-1A-1 (Chipmunk T.1) - Fitted with Gipsy Major 1C engine; RCAF operational model.
DHC-1A-2 - Gipsy Major 10 engine.
DHC-1B-1 - Gipsy Major 1C engine; high tolerance airframe.
DHC-1B-2 - Gipsy Major 10engine; high tolerance airframe.
DHC-1B-2-S1 - Egyptian Air Force model; Gipsy Major 10 engine.
DHC-1B-2-S2 - Royal Thai Air Force model; Gipsy Major 10 engine.
DHC-1B-2-S3 (Chipmunk T.2) - RCAF operational model; Gipsy Major 10 engine.
DHC-1B-2-S4 - Chilean Air Force model.
DHC-1B-2-S5 (Chipmunk T.2) - RCAF operational model.
Chipmunk T.10 (Mk.10) - British-built for RAF; Gipsy Major 8 engine; 736 examples completed.
Chipmunk Mk.20 - T.10 export model; also locally-built by Portugal.
Chipmunk Mk.21 - Civilian Mk.20; 28 examples completed.
Chipmunk Mk.22 - Civilian T.10 conversion model; Gipsy Major 10-2 (non-military 8 series).
Chipmunk Mk.22A - Mk.22 with reworked/increased fuel system.
Chipmunk Mk.23 - Agricultural sprayer platform; T.10 airframes with Gipsy Major 10 (Series 2) engine; five examples converted.
Chipmunk Masefield - Modified Mk.20, Mk.21, Mk.22, and Mk.22A aircraft for civilian use.
Super Chipmunk - Aerobatic platform; Avco Lycoming GO-435 engine of 260 horsepower.
Turbo Chipmunk - Mk.22A conversion of 1967; Rover 90 turboprop engine of 116 horsepower.
Aerostructures Sundowner - Touring variant for Australia; single conversion; powered by Lycoming O-360 engine of 180 horsepower.
Sasin Spraymaster - Agricultural sprayer for Australian farm industry; three conversions.
Supermunk - Prototype glider-tug.
Scholl Super Chipmunk - Aerobatic performers of the United States; changes included more power engines and retractable undercarriage.

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