The DH.87 Hornet Moth was designed as a two-seat, side-by-side biplane, an inspiration of the Sales Department and intended for touring and training. The prototype first flew from Stag Lane Aerodrome in the hands of Captain Geoffrey de Havilland on Wednesday 9 May 1934 but the first of two pre-production aircraft which was airborne in July incorporated a number of changes in design and construction to improve the ease and cost of production. In this form the aircraft was redesignated DH.87A, displaying sharply tapered wings. When the company offered newly designed 'rectangular wings' as an alternative, in that configuration the type reference became DH.87B.
The DH.87B model Hornet Moth introduced rectangular wings to replace the tapered wings of the DH.87A which were found to be prone to tip-stalling in the hands of inexperienced pilots.