The DHC-1 Chipmunk is a 2-seat, single engine primary trainer aircraft, designed to replace the Tiger Moth biplane around the world. It was the first true indigenous design of the newly formed De Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada and attracted immediate air force interest.
It was predominantly an all metal construction with fabric covered wings aft of the spar. It featured as sliding perspex canopy providing excellent 360 degree vision.
The prototype (CF-DIO-X) was flown for the first time by Pat Fillingham (a Parent Company Test Pilot) on 22nd May 1946 from Downsview near Toronto and attracted attention interest from the military. It competed with the Fairey Primer for the contract to provide a basic training aircraft for the Royal Air Force as well interest from the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Some 1,000 were built in the UK (Hatfield and Chester), with a further 218 in Canada and 66 by OGMA in Portugal.
Air to air photograph of RAF Chipmunk T.10 WB550 in September 1949
The RAF Chipmunk T.Mk 10 was powered by the Gipsy Major 8. The type was widely exported, serving with at least 14 air forces in addition to the RAF and RCAF.
During the 1950's and 1960's, many aircraft were brought onto the British civil register by private owners and commercial organisations after they were withdrawn from RAF service. These are mainly designated Chipmunk Mk 22 or Chipmunk Mk 23 serving crop sprayers and glider towing-tugs, as well as personal transport for those that could afford their own aircraft. Its pure simplicity and easy maintenance make the DHC Chipmunk very popular with flying schools around the world and after a period of evaluation at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, a fully aerobatic Chipmunk was adopted by the RAF.
Prince Phillip actually learnt to fly in a DHC Chipmunk and has always claimed it to be one of his favourite aircraft.
Single seat De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk 23 agricultural version
Other adaptations include extensive modification for competition aerobatics (re-engined and fitted with constant speed propeller and inverted fuel systems) with most of those employed in glider towing being re-engined, typically with the 180hp Lycoming O-360.
Some aircraft, particularly for Canadian use, were fitted with a more aerodynamically refined one-piece blown cockpit canopy. A side-by-side cabin arrangement was designed as the DHC-2 but this was never produced and the DHC-2 designation was allocated to the DHC-2 Beaver.
It is believed that there are still hundreds of Chipmunks in operation around the world, even after 70 years of loyal service.