de Havilland Gipsy Major

de Havilland Gipsy Major
Gipsy Major
Preserved Gipsy Major.
Type Piston inline aero-engine
Manufacturer de Havilland Engine Company
First run 1932
Major applications de Havilland Tiger Moth
Number built 14,615
Developed from de Havilland Gipsy

The de Havilland Gipsy Major or Gipsy IIIA is a four-cylinder, air-cooled, inline engine used in a variety of light aircraft produced in the 1930s, including the famous Tiger Moth biplane. Many Gipsy Major engines still power vintage aircraft types worldwide today.


Design and development

The engine was a slightly modified Gipsy III, which was effectively a de Havilland Gipsy engine modified to run inverted so that the cylinders pointed downwards below the crankcase. This allowed the propeller shaft to be kept in a high position without having the cylinders blocking the pilot's forward view over the nose of the aircraft.[1] One initial disadvantage of the inverted configuration was the high oil consumption (up to 4 pints per hour) requiring regular refills of the external oil tank, this problem improved over time with the use of modified piston rings. The Major was a slightly bored-out (118 mm from 114 mm) Gipsy III. First built in 1932, total production of all Gipsy Major versions was 14,615 units.


Supercharged Gipsy Major 50
Gipsy Major in the centre or nose position on a DHA-3 Drover
  • Gipsy Major I
  • Gipsy Major IC - Higher compression ratio (6:1) and maximum RPM for racing use.
  • Gipsy Major ID - Fuel pump added, plus screened ignition harness and priming system.
  • Gipsy Major IF - Aluminium cylinder heads, 5.25:1 compression ratio.
  • Gipsy Major 7 - Military version of Gipsy Major 1D, increased climb RPM.
  • Gipsy Major 8 - Sodium cooled exhaust valves, cartridge starter for DHC Chipmunk.
  • Gipsy Major 10 - Electric starter option.
  • Gipsy Major 30 - Major redesign, bore and stroke increased. 6.5:1 compression ratio.
  • Gipsy Major 50 - Supercharged. 197 hp.
  • Gipsy Major 200 - Designed as a light helicopter engine. 200 hp.
  • Gipsy Major 215 - Turbo-supercharged helicopter engine. 220 hp.


Application list from Lumsden unless otherwise noted. [2][3]


Many Gipsy Major engines remain in service today worldwide, in the United Kingdom alone approximately 175 de Havilland Tiger Moths were noted on the Civil Aviation Authority register in September 2011 although not all of these aircraft were airworthy.[5]

Engines on display

Examples of the Gipsy Major are on display at the following museums:

Specifications (Gipsy Major I)

Gipsy Major on work stand

Data from Jane's.[6]

General characteristics

  • Type: 4-cylinder air-cooled inverted inline piston aircraft engine
  • Bore: 4.646 in (118 mm)
  • Stroke: 5.512 in (140 mm)
  • Displacement: 373.7 in³ (6.124 L)
  • Length: 48.3 in (1227 mm)
  • Width: 20.0 in (508 mm)
  • Height: 29.6 in (752 mm)
  • Dry weight: 300 lb (136 kg) Mk 1F to 322 lb (146 kg) Mk 1D


  • Valvetrain: OHV
  • Fuel system: Downdraught Hobson A.I.48 H3M (Mk 1C and Mk 7) or H1M (others)
  • Oil system: Dry sump, gear-type pump
  • Cooling system: Air-cooled


  • Power output: 122 hp at 2,100 rpm, 145 hp (108 kW) at 2,550 rpm
  • Specific power: 0.39 hp/in³ (17.6 kW/L)
  • Compression ratio: 5.25:1 (Mk 1 and 1F) or 6.0:1 (others)
  • Fuel consumption: 6.5 to 6.75 gph (28.4 to 30.7 L/h) at 2,100 rpm
  • Oil consumption: 1.75 pints (0.99 L) per hour.
  • Power-to-weight ratio: 0.48 hp/lb (0.78 kW/kg)

See also

Related development

Comparable engines
Related lists



  1. ^ Bransom 1991, p. 28.
  2. ^ Lumsden 2003, pp.139-141
  3. ^ Note that the Gipsy Major may not be the main powerplant for these types
  4. ^ Ord-Hume 2000 p.260
  5. ^ G-INFO, UK CAA database - DH.82 Retrieved: 10 September 2011
  6. ^ Jane's 1989, p. 276-277


  • Bransom, Alan. The Tiger Moth Story, Fourth Edition. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1991. ISBN 0-906393-19-1.
  • Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1989. ISBN 0-517-67964-7
  • Lumsden, Alec. British Piston Engines and their Aircraft. Marlborough, Wiltshire: Airlife Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-85310-294-6.
  • Ord-Hume, Arthur W.J.G. (2000). British Light Aeroplanes. Peterborough: GMS Enterprises. ISBN 1 870384 76 8 5. 

External links

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