(first posted 5/8/2016) We all know the significance of the Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster. All these great aircraft were powered by the immortal Rolls-Royce Merlin engine; brilliantly engineered and superbly built, diligently maintained and bravely flown, they were crucial to the victory of freedom in 1945. But there is another Merlin powered plane we must remember. Conceived as a bomber, it became a fighter, a fighter-bomber, a photo-reconnaissance plane, a night fighter, a tank buster, a U boat destroyer and a bombing target marker. It carried spies and secret documents at low level, and tracked weather systems at great heights. It carried a bombload to rival a B17 at a higher speed than a Spitfire. And, apart from the fighter versions, it had no defensive armament – it was designed to be light and fast, with speed its only defence. The de Havilland Mosquito was designed to be the fastest and most aerodynamic plane in the world. And it was built of wood.
Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965) was the son of a Church of England vicar who built his first aircraft in 1909. In 1912, his BE2 was the first plane to reach 10,000 feet. As Chief Draughtsman of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company (known as Airco), he designed some of the most successful British of WW1, including the DH6 and DH9.
His Airco DH4 of 1916 was produced in great numbers – eventually, over 6,000 across Britain and the USA. It was a two seat light bomber, liked for its reliability, speed and high altitude performance – such that it could undertake bombing missions across France without fighter escort.
De Havilland left Airco after the war, and in 1920 founded the de Havilland Aircraft Company, based at Edgware in north London and then further out at Hatfield, 40 miles north. It remained independent until it joined the Hawker Siddeley Group in 1960; ultimately, the business is part of BAE Systems.
Initially, de Havilland depended on maintenance and repair work on his wartime planes, rather than on new production. From 1925, the DH60 Moth family of small and light biplanes for training and civilian use began to appear; the DH 82 Tiger Moth became the RAF’s standard trainer throughout WW2, and it and the smaller Gypsy Moth were built in India, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The 1930s saw a fashion for air races; while the Supermarine company competed in seaplane races that ultimately led to the Spitfire, de Havilland chose long distance races, using the DH88 Comet. One flew from London to Melbourne in a record 71 hours in 1934, but the true significance was the construction – a stressed wooden monocoque.
This led to a range of small (even by 1930s standards) airliners, such as the DH84 Dragon and DH86 Dragon Rapide.
The DH90 Dragonfly moved forward to a stressed skin semi-monocoque, while the larger 22 passenger four engine DH91 Albatross featured a monocoque of inner and outer layers of birch plywood around balsa wood, all covered in traditional aircraft fabric. It could cruise at 210mph – 100mph faster than competing British airliners of the period.
De Havilland was in a dilemma in 1939; the onset of war ended development of the Albatross, after just 7 had been built, but his company had no major RAF contracts and didn’t have the facilities to compete with the likes of Hawker, Supermarine, Avro and the rest of the UK aircraft industry for the business. He needed something different to offer the RAF.
De Havilland had been convinced from 1938 onwards that, with a suitably aerodynamic shape, a light wooden fuselage and wings, and powerful enough engines, he could design a plane that could outrun German fighters – a virtuous circle where making the plane lighter made it faster and safer, removing the need for the weight of guns and gunners. So, in the same way the Supermarine racing seaplanes were developed in to the Spitfire, the techniques and materials behind the Albatross were reused to form the basis of a 2 engine, 2 crew light bomber. And no more gentle names like Moth and Dragonfly – de Havilland kept to the insect theme, but chose an altogether different type for his new bomber – Mosquito!
De Havilland first proposed what became the Mosquito to the RAF in 1938, as an alternative to a specification issued for a traditional metal bomber – a specification which ultimately produced the Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax. He got a lukewarm response, and the RAF would have preferred de Havilland to build wings for the conventional metal skinned planes. De Havilland persisted with his design, arguing that while metal would be in short supply once war started, wood would be plentiful. He eventually won the support of Air Chief Marshal Wilfrid Freeman, the driving force in the rearmament of the RAF in the late 1930s. Freeman had to push the Mosquito project against the opposition of Lord Beaverbrook, Churchill’s Minster of Aircraft Production in 1939-40, who wanted de Havilland to concentrate on the Tiger Moth trainers, but eventually de Havilland were given a specification for a light bomber capable of 400mph and flying at 18,000ft.
The Mosquito’s fuselage is made of wood – but special and complex wood – in fact, it is more akin to modern composite materials. A core of Ecuadorean balsa wood, sandwiched between sheets of Canadian birch, formed a fuselage that was only 11mm thick, but needed no internal reinforcement between the wing and tail. It was constructed in 2 halves, over a mahogany mould, glued together, and strengthened with 7 bulkheads, of spruce. De Havilland made particular efforts to design a smooth and aerodynamic shape, for maximum speed.
The wings were also of wood, built as one structure, of spruce spars and plywood skins, which were then covered in traditional aircraft fabric. The wing passed through the fuselage and was secured by 4 large bolts. There was some metal in the flaps and engine mountings – but the weight of the metal parts of the structure was just 130kg.
The prototype was the first of a batch of 50, ordered in March 1940, and despite Beaverbrook ordering its cancellation (again), W4050 was ready to fly by November 1940. By now, the RAF could see its potential versatility, with the 50 originally ordered as bomber-reconnaissance craft changed to 20 bombers and 30 fighters. The fighters had four 0.303 machine guns in the nose. Prototype W4050 is now preserved by the De Havilland Aircraft Museum.
Incredibly, just 11 months after the start of detailed design work, the first Mosquito was flown by de Havilland’s son, also Geoffrey, who was the company’s chief test pilot. As early as January 1941, it was flying 10% faster than the latest Spitfire, and reaching 22,000ft. By June 1941, it was clearly the fastest aircraft in the world, and mass production was authorised – by January 1942, almost 1,400 had been ordered in Britain, and another 400 from de Havilland Canada.
The engines were, of course, the incomparable Rolls-Royce Merlin, seen here being assembled at Rolls-Royce’s factory at Hillingdon, near Glasgow. Early planes had mark 21 supercharged Merlins, offering 1,480hp each; the bomber versions had mark 76 Merlins, of 1,710hp.
One attraction of the wooden construction for both De Havilland and the RAF was the ability to build Mosquito wing and fuselage sections in small dispersed factories – de Havilland couldn’t compete with the likes of Avro and Hawker’s modern factories for capacity, and the dispersal of Mosquito production unlocked significant extra capacity. So the Mosquito ended up being built in the most unlikely of places – many of England’s famous furniture companies built fuselages and wing components for assembly at de Havilland’s factories. There was also production in Canada where de Havilland had a long established business.
In July 1941, the first photo reconnaissance Mosquito was in service, with no 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, and the first operational flights were in September 1941. The first bombers, designated B mark IV, joined 105 Squadron in November 1941, and focused on daylight low level and shallow dive attacks. From mid-1942, they were fitted with Merlin 61 engines, with two stage two speed superchargers, and were capable of 440mph at 29,000ft – way beyond any German fighter and well above the range of anti-aircraft fire
The most common Mosquito variant was the FB mark VI fighter-bomber. It carried four 0.303 machine guns and four 20mm Hispano cannons, plus 2,000lbs of bombs – even so, it remained a light, agile and manoeuvrable plane. Bombload started at four 500lb bombs, but in August 1943, a B Mk IV bomber version was modified to carry a 4,000lb ‘cookie’ – the only alteration being new bomb bay doors with a bulge to accommodate the larger bomb. Carrying a cookie, the bomber could still reach 380mph, and comfortably fly to Berlin and back. Mosquitos also formed the Light Night Striking Force, which was tasked to drop 4,000lb bombs precisely on key targets and In early 1945 the force raided Berlin on 35 successive nights.
By way of comparison, the early versions of the B17 ‘Flying Fortress’ could carry 4,500lb of bombs to Berlin at under 300mph, which doesn’t seem much of a bonus for the extra eight crewmen. It isn’t quite a fair comparison, as the B17’s bombload was a more suitable one for area bombing. However, it does make you realise the versatility and capacity of the little wooden plane.
The fighter bomber version was soon fitted with strengthened wings to carry a 500lb bomb, or a package of eight rockets on each side, plus additional drop tanks for extended range and the usual 500lb bombs in the main bomb bay. Even with all this kit, the speed was still over 360mph. Almost 2,300 of these were built. A further variant was equipped with additional armour to protect the engines and cockpit, to allow the Mosquito to engage German U-boats and surface ships – something they did with much success.
The Mosquito was a superb night-fighter – fast, agile, and able to reach high altitudes quickly to allow it to chase and destroy intruding aircraft. They were fitted with progressively more advanced radar, and Hispano cannons and Browning machine guns.
Mosquitos weren’t confined to operations over western Europe. They also served as U-boat destroyers with RAF Coastal Command, and the Royal Navy developed a carrier based version with folding wings and an arrester hook, known as the Sea Mosquito, although it didn’t fly until after the end of the war.
Are you spotting a theme here? The Mosquito was the precursor of the modern multi-purpose warplane
Perhaps the most famous use of the Mosquito was by the RAF’s Pathfinder force, which from 1942 onwards was the RAF’s elite target marking unit, with specially qualified pilots. Pathfinders, flying Mosquitos and Lancasters and using the most advanced radar navigation the RAF had, would accurately locate by radar and then ‘mark’ a target with coloured flares in a pre-set sequence of colours to allow the main bombing force to bomb accurately. It was dangerous work – the Germans would focus their night-fighters and anti-aircraft effort on the Pathfinders, seeking to disrupt the raid – and absolute precision navigation was required. Pathfinders . In July 1943, 600 heavy bombers guided by nine Mosquitos pounded the Krupps works at Essen to a standstill – it was said the industrial smog over the Ruhr valley was dispersed for the first time ever.
Just as dangerous as being a Pathfinder was being Master Bomber, a tactic that evolved in the last years of the war. A Master Bomber would command his aircraft not from the lead Lancaster, flying to the target, bombing and immediately turning to return, but from a Mosquito, which would remain over the target as the bomber stream arrived , in order to ensure the maximum accuracy of the raid.
Overall, almost 7,800 Mosquitos were built before production ended in 1950. It served with all the Air forces of the British Empire – the RAF, RCAF, RAAF and RNZAF – and many others, including the USAAF, who had 40 for photo-reconnaissance duties. Its successor in the RAF was the English Electric Canberra, a twin engine fast light jet bomber, which set height and speed records of its own.
Regardless of role, the Mosquito carried a crew of 2, with the co-pilot, responsible for bomb aiming, navigation and wireless equipment, sitting alongside and slightly behind the pilot. Some were adapted to carry a ‘passenger’ lying in the bomb bay, for covert insertions into or escape from occupied Europe
It was September 1942 before the RAF told the world anything official about the Mosquito, following the first of the daring raids for which it became famous – the attack on Victoria Terrasse, the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo, in occupied Norway. Intended as a morale booster for the Norwegian people, four Mosquitos flew a return flight of 1,100 miles from Leuchars in eastern Scotland, flying at low level; three reached the target, but the bombs passed through the building before exploding, killing 80 civilians. The picture above was taken by one of the Mosquitos, and shows just how low the unarmed bombers were prepared to fly over an occupied city. The next day’s ‘Times’, the establishment paper in London, led with ‘Nazis stung by Mosquitos’
The RAF repeated this format of a small group of Mosquitos making a pinpoint attack on strategic targets at regular intervals. In January 1943, the RAF sent a group of Mosquitos to bomb the radio station in Berlin – timed to arrive at 11am, just as Herman Goering was beginning a typically bombastic speech to celebrate 10 years of Nazi rule. And, at 4pm, as propaganda minister Josef Goebbels was about to broadcast, they returned.
In February 1944, 18 Mosquitos FB Mark VI (the definitive fighter bomber version) attacked the prison at Amiens, northern France, which was being used by the Germans to hold members of the French Resistance. Mystery surrounds the raid to this day, as it does not appear to have been requested by the Resistance or have any particular military value, but the flying skill of the Mosquito pilots is beyond debate – crossing the Channel at 50ft in some of the worst winter weather ever recorded, and successfully blowing open the prison walls and cell blocks without civilian casualties.
But perhaps the greatest of these raids was the attack on the Gestapo’s Danish headquarters, in the city of Aarhus, on October 31 1944. Again, 18 Mosquitos, plus two photo reconnaissance planes, were involved, and with pinpoint accuracy the Gestapo building was hit and the adjacent hospitals were untouched. Such was the surprise the Mosquitos achieved, the city’s anti-aircraft batteries didn’t fire until 30 minutes after they had left. About 50 Gestapo personnel were killed, and significant damage was done to its records of the Danish Resistance, with 36 500lb bombs and 80 100lb incendiaries dropped.
Today, there are only two flying Mosquitos, one in Virginia and one in Vancouver. The last British example crashed in 1996. Now, a group of enthusiasts known as the People’s Mosquito has developed plans to rebuild a night fighter example that crashed in 1949. The main spar has been saved, and a new fuselage is being constructed in New Zealand, where a fuselage mould has survived. The plane will be assembled and tested in NZ, and then shipped to Britain, where it will fly as an educational tool and memorial. Ambitious, perhaps, but then we’ve already built a new steam express engine! This podcast gives a good history of the Mosquito, and of the project – we wish them well!
And this is what we’re waiting to see again in the skies of Britain.
The ‘Mossie’ – seen here helping the people of Copenhagen celebrate liberation of Denmark and the advent of peace in 1945 – was the prototype for 21st century warplanes, and was built of wood in the furniture workshops of England. The Mosquito was as important to the defeat of Nazism as the RAF’s other Merlin engine planes, was produced in great numbers and set the template for modern warplanes. Quite an achievement for something the RAF didn’t think would work and didn’t want!
Delightful piece about a unique and significant aircraft – thanks!
+1 Great writeup.
Great story; thanks. I hope to see one of the survivors some day at the annual Oshkosh EAA fly in – the premier aviation event for enjoying vintage warbirds.
you can see one, not flying though, in the EAA Museum in Oshkosh.
Matt – thanks; I’ve been to OSH many times but have never been to the museum. It is such a huge event and I only get one day there so, even though I am an EAA member, I have yet to get to the museum. There is just too much to cover there. I spend a lot of time with the historic GA aircraft but the warbirds are my usual early morning stop.
I discovered that a Mosquito was at OSH last July. Trying to decide whether this year’s pilgrimage to Wisconsin will include OSH or the other great July event – Brian Redman Hawk at Road America.
The Germans formulated the Schnellbomber concept which the Mosquito fulfilled far better than the Ju-88. The nightfighter variants were feared by German pilots, and the recce version was borrowed by the USAAF.
It made a lot of logistical sense: 2 crewman carrying about the same bombload over Germany as a 10-man B-17, and at a speed very difficult to intercept. To be fair, the B-17 was conceived 5 yrs earlier to defend outlying US territory. Unlike British heavy bombers, it was never intended to be used in area bombing; its capacity was too small for that. The USAAF “Bomber Mafia” was totally sold on precision bombing, & in NW Europe (8th AF), without escort. The 5th AF, headed by dissenter Gen. Kenney, didn’t make this mistake & always had his heavies escorted in the SW Pacific.
BTW the Focke-Wulf Ta-154 was a German attempt at duplicating the Mosquito’s success. It was even named “Moskito”!
The B17’s payload was pathetically small for a heavy bomber and, was phased out by the USAAF in later years and in other theaters for other aircraft such as the B24.
Biggest exception was the 8th Air Force which stuck to flying B-17s pretty much to the end, though they also used B24s. B17s were a favorite of aircrews because they could withstand a lot of battle damage and were forgiving to fly.
There’s an online facsimile of a USAAF official report on the high combat & training loss-rate of the B-24, labeling it an “Accident Producer.” The analyst concluded it was a less-forgiving design, hinting that B-24 groups were given less dangerous missions to keep the loss rate in proportion with the Fortress.
There aren’t many photos of Liberators having anywhere near the battle-damage of Fortresses. I heard the B-17 also a higher crew survival rate than the Lancaster.
Whether strategic bombing was worth the cost is the hardest airpower question to answer confidently.
Thanx for the detailed and illustrated history lesson! .
Great plane; excellent write up. Thanks!
Very nice piece. These occasional deviations into other, classic, non-auto modes of transportation are an interesting and complementary diversion to the website.
+1 – if it has motor(s), I’m ready to read about it.
And even if not motorized (bicycles!)
Fascinating story – I had no idea how capable that plane was.
That’s a great picture of Rosie the Riveter – I mean Woodworker.
Love the mallet and chisel.
There is a superb book written on these fine planes called “Night Fighter” . Its a memoir written by a decorated RAF officer, CF Rawley, who flew radar-guided night time missions intercepting German bombers over Britain.
They initially used Bristol Beaufighters but later moved to the Mosquito with tremendous results. The book is a fantastic insight and account of a little known aspect of WWII.
Finally, a friend of mine’s first job was in assembling these planes for De Havilland in Toronto. He worked at the Downsview plant, and specilaized in instrument panels. I think they used radium paint for illumination, and not lights.
Correction, the writer is CF Rawnsley. For some reason, I cannot edit my post.
What a fantastic write up. Always been interested in WW2 Aircraft and the amazingly fast evolution of these machines.
Some progress we have today, decades and insane amounts of money to “develop” a war aircraft today.
A great read & photos, thank you. Surely the most beautiful twin engined war plane of WW2.
You’d get an argument from P-38 Lightning fans. It was designed by Kelly Johnson, who was in charge of Lockheed Skunkworks that produced the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird after the war.
I saw a Mosquito fly a couple of years ago at an airshow. Wonderful noise from the twin merlins.
A very good book written by a Mosquito navigator is “Terror in the Starboard Seat” by Dave Mcintosh. It doesn’t pull any punches about how those guys felt or what happened to them.
In the book The Right Stuff ,while returning to England in his P51after a mission Chuck Yeager recalls being bounced by an RAF pilot having a bit of fun with him. “Out of nowhere a Mosquito zoomed past inverted on one engine in the middle of a roll and a voice over the R/T. “Sorry bout that ole chap. The Mossie tends to roll a bit on one fan.”
I don’t think it had counter-rotating props like the P-38.
From what I recall, the last flying example crashed a few years back because the pilot didn’t respect its tricky roll characteristics.
Here’s the video:
I wonder how many of the factories that built these planes still make furniture!
That was a major reason the Mosquito’s production was approved, as wood was a less-critical war material.
Several – especially in and around High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
I got a very up-close tour of the only airworthy Dragon Rapide, as well as seeing it take off, fly for several minutes and land at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA. The evening also featured a flight by a Junkers Ju-52. It was amazing how slow those planes could fly without stalling.
Great story, thanks!
MOTAT in Auckland has a non flying example I saw it many years ago being repaired for display these are not a big airplane, but as stated in the article did big things two V12s on a board of course they were fast.
Great article, but hard to read as the type is so small – I suspect some text was pasted in and included some styling code.
You can fix it by removing a bit of HTML code from each paragraph:
<span style="color: #000000;font-family: Calibri;">at the beginning, and
</span>at the end.
Fixed. A bit tedious, to have to take them all out. Some of our contributors write their texts in other formats before pasting them into Word Press. That causes problems not infrequently.
My bad, I’m afraid – apologies
I’ve had to fix this many times myself. Might be worth looking at a plugin like this?
Wonderful piece. I visited the de Havilland museum in Hatfield a few years ago – they hadn’t started work restoring the prototype but had one or two later models pretty much complete. Fascinating to see the construction methods of the Mosquito and also to get a close look at Merlin engines, including a bent one salvaged from a crash site.
Hatfield is also the home of the Cecil family, who were counselors for two Queens.
Absolutely fantastic article and good videos.
The wooden construction did cause problems in the tropics, and some early Australian production aircraft had structral failures, due to glue issues.
Cost several lives, if I recall correctly.
Kudos for the article !
Another superb piece Big Paws.
yes a nice detour from the usual and unusual old car. i enjoy reading about anything motorized when the article is well written and includes pictures not usually seen. i know it takes a lot of work to pull something like this together so it’s not an everyday feature.
maybe someone will take up a tank, or pedal cars, or what have you in future articles.
A great article Big Paws, on an often overlooked classic.
I’m lucky enough to have one really quite close to my desk, and it certainly is an interesting thing. We are slowly restoring an Australian-operated PR Mk XVI, and it is the only RAAF flown example left in the world with combat history, albeit reconnaissance flights in the latter period of WWII. As Chris correctly notes above, there were issues with structural integrity of the aircraft in tropical regions, and this significantly delayed the progress of Australian production of the Mosquito. Our aircraft was built in the UK, but after the replacement of casein based glues with urea-formaldehyde glue, which seemed to last better in humid environs. However, 70+ years down the track, the glues in our aircraft have essentially crystallised, and therefore hold little to know structural integrity. Combined with a degradation in the strength and structure of the brass screws and nails used to originally hold the joints together while the glue cured, gives some indication why not many of these things remain in airworthy condition. My understanding is that there is not a reliable method of non-destructive inspection available to confidently determine whether all of the layers of timber are still holding together as per the plan – not what you want to be thinking about as you open the throttles on a pair of Merlins…
The new-build aircraft from NZ are truly remarkable, and even more so when you consider that Glyn Powell developed new fuselage moulds first, rather than using an existing mould. Incredible stuff.
Of course, the revolutionary construction method results in post-assembly restoration being exceptionally difficult, when attempting to retain as much original material as possible. The first image here shows the current state of A52-600 at Point Cook with various ‘shell’ repairs in progress. We have remanufactured the internal bulkheads to give the fuselage its correct shape, and then are regluing the inner and outer skins to ensure long term structural integrity.
And then there’s the wings to do…
Very enjoyable article – certainly one of the best aircraft to come out of the war, from the Axis or the Allies. The postwar Hornet and Sea Hornet were some of the fastest piston-engined aircraft ever.
Every time I see a Mossie the theme music from the movie “633 Squadron” plays right in my head…
A great film, quite a few of the actors became regulars on British TV series.
And here’s a shot of the fuselage construction.
We needed to replace the last 6′ of our aircraft’s fuselage, so made a spare half to demonstrate the very clever construction. Very light, amazingly strong, and good enough to use on later Vampire and Venom jet fighters from De Havilland.
another great CC effect. all the great books recommended by posters and commenter’s. just reserved “night fighter” & ” terror in starboard seat” at the library.
Must admit, always feel a bit ghoulish with weapons of war. But a great write up with wonderful pictures.
“It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” — Robert E. Lee’s remark to James Longstreet
I didn’t know much about these planes, very interesting writeup!
I’m glad some of these are still flying, the Mosquito was an amazing aircraft. In addition to the primary pathfinder role, the Pathfinder Force also operated several Mosquito squadrons as the Light Night Striking Force, which kept the Germans on the hop by bombing diversionary targets, including regular hits on Berlin.
An odd aside is that BOAC operated a scheduled service to Stockholm from 1943-45 carrying VIPs and high value cargo.
A couple of links which got lost in the
Great aeroplane,and a great piece too, and it is correct to pick up on the links to the use of composites in modern aircraft. After all, plywood is one of the oldest composites around, and the development of Redux adhesives in the 1930s enabled it to be used in fully structural ways.
Dispersing the production away from Hatfield and into areas of British industry not obviously linked to aircraft production helped spread the load,and the risk of bombing interrupting production.
De Havilland’s major post war aircraft was a fast one too – the the first jet airliner the Comet.
The de Havilland Museum is well worth a visit too. Living where I do, I regualrly see a de Havilland Rapide airliner doing pleasure flights from http://www.iwm.ork.uk/duxford. Great to see such aircraft still flying safely.
Sad thing is, deHavilland’s relative lack of experience in pressurized all-metal construction brought on the Comet disaster. I don’t think it was a “frontier of science” issue as many sources claim, for look at the timing: Boeing’s Dash-80 prototype, including windows, first flew BEFORE the Comet inquiry was published in late ’54, yet there’s no evidence Boeing needed to ground it & do expensive redesign. US firms knew what they were doing, as they had been building pressurized fuselages since the late ’30s.
Mr. Big Paws, a very nice article. The DeHaviland Mosquito is one of my favorite aircraft. Especially found interesting the comments on the construction craftsmanship and Mr. Brad’s comments about the effect of climate conditions and of 70+ years on the structural integrity.
Another “wooden wonder” that was also built using wood due to wartime restriction on aluminum, was the Hughes H-4 Hercules aka “Spruce Goose”. A “wooden wonder” not for performance but sheer size, i.e., 219 ft length, 320 ft wingspan and designed max weight of 400,000 lbs. Also noteworthy is Hercules was built of birch wood veneer (rather than spruce) and resin process known as “Duramold”.
Cool piece, excellent to get a bit more info. I’m lucky enough to live about 5km from Avspecs at Ardmore airport, where they build the new ones. When the previous one was testing I got to see it flying ner my house quite a few times. There’s only one sound better than a Merlin V12, and that’s TWO of them!
Another is almost completed, as in should be flying then the next few days, I think.
I was also lucky to have a customer who works there order a part from me for his own car, and he wanted it delivered. Needless to say I decided to deliver it myself! Pretty amazing what they achieve in a fairly small place!
Yeah,it was a fine plane,but let’s remember that all the war did was to make the world safe for communism.One hundred million killed by communists world-wide.That’s not a moral victory,by any normal standards.Also,the fastest Mossie was about 40 mph slower than the Arado 234.If the Allies had flown such a plane,you wouldn’t hear the end of it.German jets were way ahead of any Brit or Ami plane.
The beauty of using primarily wood in a state of the art airplane cannot be understated. While wood is unlikely to be used in a modern aircraft superstructure I believe many small and experimental private airplanes still use wood in select areas. Engineered wood products have some amazing characteristics especially when advanced tooling processes are used. Woods greatest attribute being it is 100% recyclable and sustainable. Many thanks to everyone working to make the lumber industry smarter, more environmentally balanced and relevant in todays plastic society.
Pluto TV’s Military channel streamed an hour-long show about the Mosquito several times recently, but they don’t publish a schedule, which is irritating. It’s probably available on youtube, however.
Geoffrey doesn’t look a thing like Olivia.
I really enjoyed this article and I learned a lot from it. During the war my uncle worked at the Canadian Mosquito factory in Downsview. He was a fairly recent graduate in aeronautical engineering from University of Toronto. I don’t know what his actual job was, but I do know that he had access to a lot of small scraps of mahogany. He gave them to my dad who glued up these pieces into large enough pieces to make several end tables. My parents used them for years, and I still have one. I always thought that the mahogany was used in the plane, but now I know it was used in the moulds.
Thank you for a great article. How about a follow up on the De Havilland Hornet?
I’ve never seen one of these, but they sure have caught my fancy. This great writeup added a *lot* to my rough idea of the whole story!
British Pathe a numerous wartime Mosquito newsreels (both combat and production), and also this of 1959, showing the actual prototype: https://www.britishpathe.com/video/VLVA3BXZ3MAAQVHZXOE6A17XNRL8K-UK-PROTOTYPE-OF-WARTIME-BRITISH-PLANE-MOSQUITO-LAID-UP/query/mosquito
The text about bombing in Denmark is quite wrong.
The picture shows a Mosquito over Copenhagen 21 March 1945.
The burning building is “Shellhuset”, the Gestapo headquarters.
Read more about “Operation Charthage” and see the film from last year “The Shadow in My Eye”.
The Netflix film “A Bombardment” is about the Copenhagen raid and its tragic results for the locals.
The Danish physicist Niels Bohr traveled to England in the bomb bay of a Mosquito after escaping to neutral Sweden.
I will take a big pause for a long clap for Big Paws. Wonderful stuff, even if I’m vastly late here.
Rather remarkably, it seems the Mosquito was made by De Havilland even in Sydney during the war, and, engines apart, I do mean made. For example, birch was substituted with coachwood, a native temperate rainforest hardwood that grows in certain places here. They made 212 of them in total.
They were troublesome aircraft in tropical environments, and it was not because of failing glues. It is because in such conditions, the wood joints expanded or swelled in such a way as to affect their strength. Given that the Royal Australian Airforce, or RAAF, fought its war down here largely in the Pacific islands and tropics – alongside/in concert with US forces, of course – I’d love to know just how the planes performed.
As ever with these things, it’s astounding how few of these machines are left.