The de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk is a tandem, two-seat, single-engined primary trainer aircraft. Developed shortly after the Second World War, it sold in large numbers in the immediate post-war years, typically employed as a replacement for the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane. With a Gypsy Major engine developing 143 bhp, it cruises at 90 knots, can dive to a top speed of 173 knots / 200 mph and has an endurance of 3 hours.
The Chipmunk was de Havilland Canada’s first post-war aviation project and its maiden flight was on 22nd May 1946. It was introduced to operational service that same year. During the late 1940s and 1950s, the Chipmunk was procured in large numbers by military air services where it was often utilised as their primary trainer aircraft. The type was produced under licence by de Havilland in the UK, who would produce the vast majority of the 1,284 Chipmunks that were built. The type was slowly phased out of service from the late 1970s, although in the ab initio elementary training role, this did not happen in the Army until 1997.
WD325 was one of the first aircraft to be delivered for Army pilot training at Middle Wallop on 9th October 1957.
The Chipmunk is an aircraft that holds many fond memories for all Army pilots who learnt to fly prior to 1997, as it was the type that was used for Flying Grading and as the basic trainer on all Army Pilots courses since the early 1950s. The main reason for its popularity as a trainer was because it was easy to handle on the ground, as well as in the air. At its peak, the School of Army Aviation operated 21 aircraft in daily use.
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