Chipmunk T.10 WK608 was built by the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Chester and, following early service with the Royal Air Force, entered service with the Royal Navy’s Britannia Flight at Roborough (now Plymouth City Airport) in June 1966. She served with the unit until retirement of the type from service in 1993, transferring to the Royal Navy Historic Flight at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in July of that year, thus becoming the last flying example of the type in Royal Naval service.

WK608 is not displayed on the airshow circuit and doesn’t get a winter break either, being used for continuation training throughout the year and providing the Navy Wings pilots with much valued tailwheel experience.


The Chipmunk was designed to succeed the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer that was widely used throughout the Second World War. As might be expected after the technical advances of the war years, the Chipmunk was a radical change from its comparatively primitive predecessor. The Chipmunk is a single engine, two seat tandem control, all metal, low wing monoplane with conventional tail wheel landing gear and fabric covered control surfaces. Designed by Wsiewolod Jakimiuk, the DHC-1 Chipmunk was the first postwar aviation project of de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd.. The aircraft was also manufactured by de Havilland in the UK where it was designated as the T.10.

UK production began at the DH Hatfield factory but later relocated to Hawarden Airport near Chester and the combined production was around 1000 aircraft of which 735 were for the RAF. Although designed as a primary trainer, following successful trials at RAF Boscombe Down, it was the fully aerobatic version of the Chipmunk that was ordered – the first of 735 aircraft for the RAF and 1000 to be made in the UK.

Entering service in 1950, the Royal Navy acquired a dozen ex-RAF aircraft in 1965 to replace the Tiger Moths of the Britannia Royal Naval College Air Experience Flight at Roborough (known as Britannia Flight), with the first entering service in 1966. Additional to the Roborough aircraft, 771 and 781 Squadrons also operated examples for communications and glider towing duties from RNAS Culdrose and RNAS Lee-on-Solent together with the Station Flights of RNAS Yeovilton, Lossiemouth and Culdrose.

While they initially served with reserve and university squadrons they also saw service in Cyprus on internal security flights during the conflict in 1958 and from 1956 to 1990 the Chipmunks of the RAF Gatow Station Flight were used for covert reconnaissance over the Berlin area. Chipmunk T.10s were also used as primary trainers by the Army Air Corps and Fleet Air Arm.

After 27 years of sterling service the Chipmunk was finally retired from Royal Navy service in 1993.

British (and also early Canadian and Portuguese-built) Chipmunks all have the characteristic multi-paneled sliding canopy with bulged rear panes to assist the visibility of the instructor. Later Canadian built RCAF and Lebanese versions all have a bubble canopy.

The last Chipmunks in military service are still operated by the Royal Navy and Army historic flights and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, to provide pilots with experience of handling tailwheel aircraft.

Its excellent performance characteristics, both as a trainer and for more advanced uses, made it an extremely popular aircraft and it was widely used by many air forces during the post war years. Today, the Chipmunk remains popular with flying clubs and individuals around the globe.



Top Speed






CREW – 1 (+1)


Speed – 138 mph (222 km), 103 mph (166 kph) cruise
Range – 259 miles (445 km or 225 nmi)
Ceiling – 15,800 ft (5200 m)
Climb Rate – 900 ft/min (274 m/min)


Length – 25 ft 5 in (7.75 m)
Wingspan – 34 ft 4 in (10.47 m)
Wing Area – 172 ft² (16.0 m²)
Height – 7 ft in (2.1 m)
Max Takeoff Weight – 2,200 lb (998 kg)


145 hp (108 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Major 1C