de Havilland Mosquito Prototype (W4050) [@ de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre]
Nicknamed ‘The Wooden Wonder’, the Mosquito was a remarkable aircraft for its time; not only was it made largely of wood [de Havilland had noted that except in torsion, wood's strength for weight was as great as that of duralumin or steel] but it was designed as an unarmed bomber, depending on its superior speed [~ 370mph] to escape enemy fighters. Not surprisingly, de Havilland's proposal was unceremoniously rejected; the Air Ministry was simply not interested in an unarmed bomber concept. When it entered RAF service in 1941 it was (and remained to 1944) the fastest aircraft operated by the RAF. However work begun as a private venture and the first prototype, W4050, of Geoffrey de Havilland’s was completed in bomber configuration and flew for the first time in the manufacturer’s markings E-0234 on 25th November 1940 from Hatfield. The second prototype, W4052, was equipped as a night fighter and made its first flight on 15th May 1941. The third to be completed, W4051, as a photo-reconnaissance aircraft and flew on 10th June 1941. All three prototypes were powered by Merlin 21s with two speed, single stage superchargers and were fitted with de Havilland hydromatic propellers.
Built in 1940 at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, W4050 was transferred by road to nearby Hatfield airfield where it first flew in November 1940 in a yellow livery. W4050 suffered fuselage damage from a number of heavy landings during extensive trails. In 1944 W4050 was finally grounded and used for apprentice training. Placed into storage in June 1947 before being finally moved back to Salisbury Hall in 1959 for public display. At the time the photograph was taken W4050 was undergoing extensive restoration with both engines being restored by Rolls Royce.
de Havilland Mosquito B.35 (TJ138) [@ RAF Hendon]
The prototype Mosquito B.4 bomber, W4072, flew for the first time on 8th September 1941. The B.4 was unarmed and could carry one 1000lb bomb and two 500lb bombs internally for 1,200 miles at 380 mph. Later on it was modified to carry a 4000lb bomb (blockbuster or "cookie") with a bulged bomb-bay. It was powered by 2 Merlin 21s and later 23s. The first B.4s went to No 105 Squadron at RAF Marham, Norfolk, in May 1942, and made their first operational sortie on the 31st of the month. Five aircraft were sent in daylight to Cologne to photograph the damage caused by the previous night’s 1000-bomber raid and to drop a few bombs. One Mosquito was hit by flak and crashed in the North Sea. The first bombing of Berlin in daylight was made by B.4s on 30th January 1943. Total production of the B.4, which eventually equipped 12 squadrons, was 273 aircraft. The B.5 was a proposed development of the B.4 with underwing pylons for 2 x 500lb bombs or 2 x 50 gallon jettisonable wing tanks and Merlin 23 engines but none were built, while the B.7 was the Canadian version of the B.4 and was powered by Packard Merlin 31 engines driving standard Hamilton propellers. A total of 25 were built. The first high-altitude bomber version was the B.9 of which 54 were built and powered by Merlin 72s. Capacity for four 500lb bombs in the fuselage and two 500lb bombs on the wings or extra fuselage fuel tanks and 50 gallon jettisonable wing tanks. A few were converted to take one 4000lb bomb in the fuselage with two 50 gallon jettisonable wing tanks which were later in 1944 replaced by 100 gallon jettisonable wing tanks subject to a weight limitation of 25,200lb. A Pathfinder version was developed by the RAF.
Following on was the B.16, a pressurized high-altitude bomber variant, powered by Merlin 72s, 73s, 76s [photograph - right] or 77s. By 1944 the armament was confined to one 4,000lb bomb or six 500lb bombs in a bulged bomb bay in addition to two 100 gallon drop tanks. Four hundred were built and it remained in service for some time after 1946. Two hundred and forty five B.20s, a Canadian version of the B.4, were built and fitted with the Packard Merlin 31s or 33s. To make use of Packard Merlin 69 engines the B.23 was an intended Canadian equivalent of the B.9. None were constructed because sufficient supplies of Packard Merlin 225 engines became available.
However 400 B.25s, a Canadian variant of the B.20, were constructed with Packard Merlin 225 engines delivering 1,620 hp. The majority were delivered to the RAF. On 12th March 1945 the last bomber variant of the Mosquito, the B.35, made its first test flight. It was an improved B.16 and powered by the Merlin 114s and later 114A engines. 274 were built, mostly post-war, and it entered service in 1946 with 109 and 139 Squadrons. The war had ended before the B.35 variant could be used operationally but the type entered service with the post-war RAF and served as a bomber until the beginning of 1954.
de Havilland Mosquito B.35
(TJ138) [@ RAF
de Havilland Mosquito B.35 (TJ138) [@ RAF Hendon]
The Mosquito NF.2 night fighter prototype was completed with Al Mk 4 radar in a ‘solid’ nose and a powerful armament of four 20mm (0.79in) cannon and four .303 machine guns in the nose. The first Mosquito night fighter squadron, No 157, was formed at Debden in Essex on 13th December 1941 and entered active service in January 1942. Seventeen squadrons were eventually armed with the NF.2, 466 of which were built and were all powered by Merlin 21s.
de Havilland Mosquito B.35 (TJ138) [@ RAF Hendon]
TJ138 was originally delivered to 27 MU at RAF Shawbury on the 28th August 1945 and subsequently placed into storage. On the 31st August 1950 TJ138 was allocated to 98 Squadron based at RAF Celle in Germany and latter RAF Fassberg. The Squadron had converted to the Mosquito in September 1945 and in February 1951 it reequipped with the de Havilland Vampire FB5. This makes TJ138 the only surviving B.35 to see RAF squadron service. On the 20th February 1951 TJ138 returned to the UK and was placed into with 38 MU based at RAF Llandow, South Wales. Taken out of storage on the 15th July 1953 and flown to Brooklands Aviation Ltd, Sywell, for conversion to TT.35 standard. Allocated on the 8th March 1954 to 5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit (CAACU) based at RAF LLanbedr, North West Wales, and flew alongside similar equipped Bristol Beaufighters, de Havilland Vampires and Gloster Meteors. 5 CAACU, a Short Bros & Harland-operated unit, moved to RAF Woodvale, Lancashire, on the 1st January 1958 and was primarily reequipped with Gloster Meteor F.8s, T.7s and TT.20 variants until its disbandment in June 1971. Meanwhile TJ138 was reallocated during May 1958 to another Short Bros & Harland-operated unit the THUM (Temperature and Humidity) Flight which was also based at RAF Woodvale. The THUM Flight had operated the RAF's last three Spitfires until June 1957 and they were replaced with Mosquitoes which made the daily high altitude flights until serviceability problems prompted their replacement by radar-tracked balloons. TJ138 flew the very last ‘Thum’ flight on the 1st May 1959 thus completing the last of some 2,800 sorties flown by the Flight in just over 8 years. The readings taken by the Flight greatly helped advance the science of understanding weather systems and enabling more accurate short-term forecasting. The Mosquitoes were initially passed to 5 CAACU before being transferred on the 9th June 1959 to 27 MU at RAF Shawbury for storage and disposal. During July 1959 TJ138 was declared a non-effective airframe and allocated for exhibition purposes. TJ138 finally arrived at RAF Hendon on the 6th February 1992. In the photographs TJ138 is in the post-war colours of 98 Squadron.
The NF.10 was intended to be the NF.2 development variant with Merlin 61 engines but none were built. Ninety-seven NF.2s were later converted to NF.12 standard. DD715, which first flew August 1942, was the prototype NF.12. Powered by Merlin 21 or 23s but with the machine guns removed and an upgraded radar to the AI Mk 8 centimetric type. 270 NF.13s followed them and was the production counterpart of the NF.12. The NF.13 was similar to the NF.12 but with auxiliary under-wing tanks. The NF.14 was an intended development of the NF.13 with Merlin 67 engines. None were built but 5 NF.15s powered by Merlin 61 engines were built. The NF.15 was a specialised high-altitude conversion variant of the NF.13 and served with 85 Squadron during the war, operating at heights up to 44,600 ft. It featured extended wing tips, reduced fuel tankage and four .303in machine guns in a blister under the fuselage. The NF.17 was a NF.2 conversion fitted with centimetric AI Mk 10 radar in a more bulbous nose and approximately 100 NF.2 conversions were made. The NF.19 was similar to the NF.13 but powered by Merlin 25s and was able to take either British or American radar sets. Prototype DZ659 first flew in April 1944 and 220 were built; it entered service with 157 Squadron in May 1944. In 1948-49 45 were overhauled and fitted with four blade airscrews and supplied to the Royal Swedish Air Force who designated the aircraft the J.30.
de Havilland Mosquito NF.2 (HJ711) [@ RAF Elvington]
HJ711 was built at Hatfield in May 1943 and entered RAF service with 141 Squadron. While with 69 Squadron at Little Snoring in Norfolk HJ711 was credited with the Squadron's first victory when it downed a Bf 110 over Berlin while being flown by Squadron Leader J.A.H. Cooper. HJ711 was reported missing from a bomber support mission to Stuttgart on 16th March 1944. Restoration of HJ711 began on 29th April 1972 when the derelict cockpit section of HJ711 and other items including a rudder were obtained at the sale of the Reflectaire Museum collection at Blackpool. The wing came from a B.16, PF498, which had previously served with 627, 109 and 139 Squadrons and had been used by the Civil Defence for crash rescue training at Chorley in Lancashire. Additional wing parts came from a long-derelict Royal Navy T.3, VA878, which had crashed at St. David's airfield in South Wales through a boundary fence when an engine failed on takeoff. A pair of Merlin engines came from a NF.30, NT616, that had served with 29 Squadron and were recovered from a scrap yard at Cosford. The rear fuselage came from a B.35, RS715, that had served with both 3 and 4 CAACU (Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit) and was S.o.C (Struck Off Charge) on 18th September 1961. The part was obtained from the MGM Studio store at Borehamwood. The wing tips came from Scotland along with many other components from all over the UK. When the restoration project became too large for a domestic garage in 1986 it was moved to the museum. The aim of the Night Fighter Preservation Team is to return HJ711 to taxiing condition.
The next night fighter variant was the NF.30 and a development of the NF.19 but with two-stage Merlin 72 and later Merlin 76 and 113 engines. It was un-pressurised and fitted with either AI Mk 8 or 10 radar. The prototype, MM686, first flew in March 1944 with a total of 530 eventually being constructed; the variant served for some years post-war. The USAAF 416th NFS (Night Fighter Squadron) in Italy used NF.30s during the latter part of the war and claimed one kill. Meanwhile the NF.31 was an intended Packard Merlin 69 variant of the NF.30 but none were constructed. The NF.36 was similar to the NF.30 but with the Merlin 113 and US AI Mk 10 radar of which 236 were constructed. The engines were 9 in longer than the earlier Merlin's and to compensate for the change in the centre of gravity extra weights were added to the elevators. The NF.38 was similar to the NF.36 but with British AI Mk IX radar, a lengthened cockpit enclosure and Merlin 114 and 114A engines. A total of 101 were built, of which most were sold to the Yugoslav Air Force.
Flt Lt John Cunningham attained a legendary status that few have equalled. His wartime fame as an outstanding night-fighter ace was followed by a long career in test-flying during the exciting post-war period when the jet engine was developed to power both military and civil aircraft. As Chief Test Pilot for the de Havilland Aircraft Company he was at the leading edge of the quest for supersonic flight and in the development of the Comet - the World's first jet airliner. As 'Cat's-Eyes Cunningham' he became a household name during the bombing blitz of Britain. His feats actually owed less to the good night vision [attributed to eating carrots] ascribed to him than to the mosquito's excellent airborne interception radar (which the authorities were painfully anxious to keep a secret, hence the propaganda connection between carrots and good night vision). In partnership with Jimmy Rawnsley, his navigator, he was the first squadron pilot in the world to shoot down an enemy aircraft using radar.
de Havilland Mosquito NF.30 (RK952/MB-24) [@ Koninklijk Leger Museum, Brussels]
Built by the de Havilland at Leavesden RK952 was one 27 NF.30 night fighter variants to be built in a contract to supply, in total, 345 Mosquitoes. First flown on the 22nd May 1945 RK952 entered RAF service with 218 MU at RAF Colerne on the 25th May 1945 for radar and electronics installation. With WW2 coming to an end RK952 was not delivered to an operational unit but instead was transferred to 10 MU based at Hullavington on the 11th July 1945 to be stored. In 1947 the Belgian Air Force established Mosquito NF.30 night fighter squadrons 22 of the 24 Mosquitos that were sold to Belgium being ex RAF WW.2 veterans. The first four were delivered in November 1947 and entered service on the 25th May 1948 with the 1st Wing at Beauvechain. In 1951 two additional NF.30s were ordered (MB-23 and MB-24), unfortunately MB-23 crashed in the UK before delivery leaving RK952 to be the only sale on the 23rd October 1951. RK952 was delivered on the 4th September 1953 after undergoing updating by Fairey Aviation at Ringway and so became the last Mosquito to be delivered to Belgium. By the time MB-24 (RK952) entered service the oldest NF.30's were already in the process of being withdrawn and replaced with Gloster Meteor NF.11s. However due to its update MB-24 continued to fly with the 10 Squadron of the 1st Wing at Beauvechain until its last flight on the 18th August 1955. S.o.C at Beauvechain on the 17th October 1956 MB-24 was transferred to the museum on the 17th March 1957.
de Havilland Mosquito B.35/TT.35 (TA639) [@ RAF Cosford]
It was the Mosquito NF.2 that provided the basis for the FB.6 fighter-bomber, of which 2718 were built during and after the war and it remained in service with the RAF in occupied Germany until 1950. The first FB.6 was a converted NF.2, HJ662, and this flew for the first time on 1st June 1942. The FB.6 also equipped some of Coastal Command’s strike wings and also some squadrons of No 2 Group specializing in low-level precision attacks. The FB.6 carried four 250 lb bombs (series 1) in addition to the eight gun armament or four 500 lb bombs (series 2). Alternatively extra fuel could be carried in 50 gallon jettisonable wing tanks or extra tankage in the fuselage behind the cannon. Series 2 aircraft also featured the Merlin 25 engine. 418 Squadron was the first to be equipped with this variant during May 1943. Provision was made in 1944 to carry four 60lb rockets under each wing in place of the wing tanks or bombs for attacks on shipping.
After construction by de Havilland at Hatfield, TA639 was placed directly into storage with 27 MU at RAF Shawbury on the 13th April 1945. Removed from storage on the 19th May 1952 and sent to Brooklands Aviation Ltd for conversion to Target Tug standard before transfer for duties to Northern Ireland. By 16th January 1957 TA639 was back in storage first with 38 MU, RAF Llandow, then back with 27 MU at Shawbury. With just over 100 flying hours TA639 was transferred on the 24th September 1959 to 3 CAACU (Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit) at Exeter until being S.o.C on the 31st May 1963. During June/July/September of 1963 TA639 was extensively used in the making of the ‘633 Squadron' film (one of five airworthy and three taxiable Mosquitoes - all ex 3 CAACU). After the filming was completed TA639 was used for personal/display use by the Commandant at Little Rissington until, with just over 600 flying hours on the clock, TA639s last flight on the 3rd October 1965. Transferred by road to the RAF museum store at RAF Henlow in August 1967 TA639 finally arrived at RAF Cosford in the September of 1969. In the photograph TA639 wears the markings of the Mosquito XX of 627 Squadron, AZ-E, in which Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC lost his life on the 19th September 1944. It is in a full late war camouflage scheme with dark green and grey upper surfaces and black under sides, wing and fuselage roundels.
The FB.10 was an intended FB.6 development with Merlin 101 engines but none were built. Similarly none were built of the FB.11 variant which was an intended development of the FB.6 with Merlin 61engines. The FB.18, an FB.6 conversion, carried eight rockets and two 227kg (500lb) bombs and was armed with a single 57mm (six-pounder) anti-tank Molins gun in a modified nose instead of the 4 x 20mm cannon [photograph - left]. The Molins could fire 25 shells in 20 seconds. Known as the Mosquito ‘Tsetse’ this variant, of which 27 FB.6s were converted, was used by 248 and 254 Squadrons of Coastal Command against submarines and shipping. The FB.21 was the Canadian equivalent of the FB.6. Only three were built, one was fitted with Packard Merlin 33s while the other two were fitted with Packard Merlin 31 engines. Only one FB.24, an intended high altitude Canadian version of the FB.21, was constructed and it was powered by Packard Merlin 301s. Finally the FB.26 was similar to the FB.21 but with Packard Merlin 225 engines and Canadian-American equipment. Most of the 337 that were built were used by the RAF in the Middle East.
de Havilland Mosquito B.35 (TA634) [@ de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre]
Inside the cockpit of TA634
de Havilland Mosquito B.35 (TA634) [@ de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre]
TA634 was one of the final Hatfield built Mosquitoes in 1945 and was later modified for target tug work. Serving with 4 CAACU (Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit) and then 3 CAACU at Exeter it was retired in 1959. Sold on 6th November 1963 G-AWJV flew in the film "'633 Squadron" and was last flown in July 1968 before being donated to the Museum. In the photograph TA634 is displayed in the colours of 571 Squadron of the Late Night Strike Force.
The PR Mosquito was the first into service, being issued to No 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, in September 1941. The first operational sortie was flown on 20th September. Some NF.2s were converted into PR.2s and twenty seven B.4s were converted to take cameras and hence became PR.4s. Interestingly a variant of the PR.4 was supplied to BOAC as the prototype Mosquito courier-transport. The two passengers laid on their backs in the felt-padded bomb bay. Following on was the first high altitude Mosquito the PR.8 since the PR.5 was not put into production. Similar to the PR.4, a B.4 conversion, the PR.8 was powered by the Merlin 61 but only five were built. DZ570 was the prototype PR.9 and it first flew on 24th March 1943. The PR.9, a B.9 conversion, was similar to the PR.8 but with Merlin 72 engines so it could attain higher altitudes. 90 were built and the variant entered service with 540 Squadron in April 1943. Used by the RAF and US 8th Air Force for meteorological reconnaissance over Europe before all major day and night bombing raids. Powered by Merlin 73’s the prototype PR.16, MM258, flew in July 1943 and was similar to the PR.9 but with a pressurized cockpit. 499 were built, of which, 79 were supplied to the USAAF under a "reverse" Lend-Lease arrangement. In addition to photo-reconnaissance missions the USAAF employed its PR.16s as chaff dispensers, scouts for the heavy bomber force and on “Redstocking” J-E missions for the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The PR.16, a B.16 conversion, had three extra fuel tanks fitted in the bomb bay. In addition to the cameras carried in the fuselage, one F.52 camera could be carried in each drop tank. The PR.32 was a high altitude version of the PR.16 with extended wing tips. In all five were built and they served with 540 Squadron until November 1945. With the war in the Far East needing a long-range version of the Mosquito the PR.34, with a range of 3,600 miles, became available. It was basically a PR.16 with extra fuel tanks in a bulged fuselage and wing drop tanks. Powered by Merlin 113s or 114s, the first production aircraft flew on 4th December 1944 and its equipment included four F.52 vertical and one F.24 oblique cameras. This was the fastest version of the Mosquito managing 422mph in level flight. A number of PR.34 was converted with modified Gee and the Merlin 114A engines to PR.34A standard. This variant was the last in RAF front-line service with the final flight being made on 15th December 1955 by RG314 of 81 Squadron. Ten B.35s were converted for flashlight photography and became the PR.35 variant.
de Havilland Mosquito TT.35 (TA719) [@ RAF Duxford]
The T.3 was an unarmed dual control conversion of an NF.2 with Merlin 21 or 23 engines. The prototype first flew on 30th January 1942 with delivery starting in September 1942 to the Mosquito Training Unit. The T.3 remained in RAF service until 1955. Six FB.21s were converted to dual control and became the T.22 while 21 T.27 were constructed. These were similar to the T.22 but powered by Packard Merlin 225s. The T.29 was another dual control conversion and of the 61 aircraft produced 60 were FB.26 conversions with one new build.
A total of 135 B.35s was converted for target-towing (TT) duties and in this role they continued in service until 1963. The TT.35 was fitted with a ML type G wind driven winch under the forward fuselage. 26 B.16s were converted to target towing specification Q.19/45 for the Royal Navy. The TT.39, a another B16 conversion, featured an extended and heavily glazed nose. In addition several B.35s were modified for meteorological work as the Met.35.
de Havilland Mosquito TT.35 (TA719) [@ RAF Duxford]
Designed to specification N.15/44 the TR.33 was a specialised naval variant "Sea Mosquito". Built as a carrier-borne torpedo reconnaissance (TR) aircraft it was a variation of the FB.6. It was fitted with an arrestor hook on a strengthened the rear fuselage, manually operated folding wings, four-blade propellers, provision for JATO and thimble radome to take ASH radar. The prototype, LR359, a partly converted FB.6, flew on 25th March 1944 while the first of 50 Merlin 66 powered production aircraft, TW227, flew on 10th November 1945. The TR.37 was similar to the TR.33 but with British ASV Mk 13B radar in an enlarged nose. Powered by Merlin 25s a total of 14 were constructed.
The Mosquito was also built under licence in Australia and the marks included the FB.40, PR.40, PR.41, FB.42 and T.43. None of the Australian variants served with the RAF. The FB.40 was the first Australian built Mosquito and was based on the FB.6 with Hamilton Standard or Australian built de Havilland hydromatic propellers. The first 100 aircraft were built with Packard Merlin 31s and later Packard Merlin 33 engines.
TA719 was probably by Percival Aircraft Ltd at Luton and delivered to the RAF in July 1945 as a B.35. Subsequently placed in storage for six years, with various maintenance units, TA719 was flown to Brooklands Aviation Ltd at Sywell for a short period on the 9th August 1951 before being returned to store. On the 15th August 1953 TA719 was again flown to Brooklands Aviation Ltd for conversion to TT.35 standard which included the fitting of a target-towing winch in the bomb bay and guards on the tail surfaces and tailwheel. Thereafter TA19 served with 4 CAACU (Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit) at Exeter from the 30th June 1954 then with 3 CAACU at Exeter as target tug “56” until retirement during March 1963. Flown to 27 MU based at RAF Shawbury for disposal before being sold to the Skyfame Collection based at Staverton, Gloucestershire, and was given the civil registration G-ASKC. On the 8th July 1963 TA719 was loaned to Film Aviation Services and flown to RAF Bovingdon to be repainted as HJ898 with code letters HT-G for the making of the 1964 British war film “633 Squadron”. Mostly shot in Scotland TA719 operated from Dalcross, Inverness, from the 16th August to the 17th September. Following completion of filming TA719 was delivered to the Skyfame Collection during the following December with the intention of keeping TA719 airworthy. Unfortunately following a flying accident at Staverton on the 27th July 1964 in which the port wing, outboard of the engine, was severely damaged, along with the nacelles and fuselage underside, the Civil Aviation Authority cancelled the registration G-ASKC on the 3rd September 1964. Officially classified as "Permanently Withdrawn From Use" (PWFU) TA719 underwent temporary repairs, including the fitting of a dummy wing. During 1968 TA719 participated in a static role in the filming of the 1969 British war film “Mosquito Squadron” at MGM Borehamwood Studios. Unfortunately during the filming of a crash landing scene TA719 was damaged by fire. TA719 arrived at RAF Duxford in 1978, with the majority of the Skyfame collection after its closure, and underwent detailed restoration. Now hung from the ceiling in the airspace hangar at Duxford, TA719 was first photograph during restoration and later in distinctive target towing colours.
The PR.40 was a photo-reconnaissance conversion of the FB.40 with Packard Merlin 31 engines while the PR.41 was similar to the PR.40 but with extra radio gear and Packard Merlin 69 engines. Similarly the FB.42 was an adaptation of the FB.40 to take the Packard Merlin 69 engine. After testing the project was dropped and the aircraft became the prototype for the PR.41. The T.43 was yet another FB.40 conversion and was almost identical except for the addition of dual controls and dual elevator trim tabs.
The total Mosquito production reached 7781 aircraft, 6710 of which were built during the war years.