THERE WERE 1,600 de Havilland Tiger Moths built in Canada during World War II. The Canadian Moth–the DH-82C–received some 60 design modifications from the British DH-82A to accommodate Canada’s extremely cold winters and to enable it to operate more effectively. The cold-weather modifications included an ingenious sliding canopy arrangement that could be partially or entirely removed in hot weather–a true convertible!
In an effort to improve the Canadian Moth, an effective cabin heater was ducted off the extra-long exhaust pipe. This long exhaust pipe mellowed the sound of the Canadian Moth compared to the bark from the short stacks on the English version. A tail wheel also replaced the tail skid, to give increased control when landing.
The museum’s Tiger Moth, CF-COU, was based at Royal Canadian Air Force Station Neepawa during World War II, an Elementary Flying Training School and part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). BCATP lasted until March, 1945. The plan–signed on December 17, 1939–formed an agreement between Canada and Britain to train Royal Air Force pilots, engineers and crew in Canada. Over five years the BCATP graduated 131,553 aircrew–49,808 pilots, 29,963 observers and navigators, 14,996 air gunners, 18,496 wireless/radio operators, 15,673 air bombers, 1,913 flight engineers and 704 naval air gunners. The plan also graduated 40,000-45,000 ground crew tradesmen. At its peak in 1943, the RCAF administered BCATP in four commands and had 10,906 training aircraft in use.
Following the war, the logs show that CF-COU functioned as a real “working airplane” patrolling range fences and rounding up lost cattle on a large ranch near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. From 1952 to 1966, the aircraft was operated in the Calgary area. In 1966, the Tiger came to Manitoba and was based at Oakbank Airport, east of Winnipeg.