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).
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