The aircraft that trained so many... including royalty!

Adrian M Balch outlines the history of the legendary DHC Chipmunk trainer in this, its 75th anniversary year

Ask any British military pilot of a certain age in which aircraft they gained their ‘wings’ and a great many will answer “the Chipmunk”. With 1,283 built and many still flying today, it was the first indigenous aircraft design to be produced by de Havilland Canada, hence its designation DHC-1. The prototype, CF-DIO-X, first flew on May 22, 1946 from Downsview, Toronto, piloted by Pat Fillingham, a test pilot seconded from the parent de Havilland company.

As a tandem, two-seat, single engined primary trainer, it was developed shortly after World War Two and had prolific sales throughout the immediate post-war years, being typically employed as a replacement for the de Havilland Tiger Moth. 

Chipmunk T.10 WD331/W of RAF Birmingham UAS, Shawbury, in flight on September 19, 1971

The design team was led by Wsiewołod Jakimiuk, a Polish pre-war engineer, originally chief engineer at Warsaw’s National Aircraft Factory, who joined DHC in the summer of 1940.

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