Out of WWII Aviation History Comes the Reborn Mosquito

Scott Slocum Photo of Mosquito over NZ 001
For you old timers among us:  Do you remember this famous aeroplane?  If so, and you’d like to see it in action again, just click on the photo of the esteemed de Havilland Mosquito above and then witness a HD video of its rebirth.  At the end of this write-up, down below, you’ll find another link that will take you directly to a 6 minute video of the actual reconstruction of this famous warbird.  This story was suggested by FASF members, Wayne and Debbi Evans.Captain Sir Geoffrey De Havilland in Perth, Austraila 1929(cropped-corr)

It was famed for its sheer beauty of design, its symmetry and the melodious purring of its two large Rolls Royce Merlin engines, the same that powered that single engined star performer of the Royal Air Force, the indomitable Supermarine Spitfire, another classic aircraft wonder.

The De Havilland Mosquito was nicknamed the “Mossie” by it pilots and crews.  The ship was beautifully streamlined for its day, yet it was amazingly enough constructed almost entirely of wood – a new concoction fabricated by the plane’s designer, Sir  Geoffrey de Havilland, Sr. (seen in photo above after his victory in a 1929 Australian air race in 1929).  This new construction “sandwich” technology actually preceded by over half a century the latest new carbon fiber technology developed and applied to Spaceship I by American aviation pioneer, Burt Rutan, of Scaled Composites.  Sir de Havilland’s system was one in which light weight balsa wood was sandwiched in between layers of plywood.  If you were ever a model airplane builder or enthusiast, you most likely made your models from this ultra light weight – but not noted to be strong – kind of wood – long before plastic modeling became popular.  Remember?

FASF member from Arizona, Colonel Frank Smith, observed that the Mossie was likely the first “Stealth” aircraft to ever see action during WWII, when RADAR was first employed by both the Allied and Axis combatants.  As the Colonel observed, “The Mosquito, being made out of wood and fabric, also had a low Radar signature. One more reason they were safe from Axis fighters. By design, one of the first stealth planes.”

The beautiful VIMEO HD film, by videographer Scott Slocum, was breathtakingly shot ‘down under,’ so make sure you have your volume turned up.  After all, the sound of those twin Rolls Royce Merlin engines is part of the experience.

Captain de Havilland once remarked that: “If an aircraft looks right, it usually flies right.”

If this statement guided his design, the veracity of the slogan certainly spoke for itself.

His “Mossie” was most assuredly one of the most beautiful aeroplanes this famous aviation pioneer and accomplished pilot ever built – – – If not arguably one of the best British aircraft of the war.  While originally conceived to be a bomber, it soon proved so extraordinarily versatile that it quickly took on numerous other roles, including that of a combat fighter.

For over 25 years, no Mosquito has flown anywhere in the world, after the last flying one crashed at Barton Aerodrome, Manchester, UK.

This was largely because nobody wanted to trust the 50-year-old-plus balsa and plywood from which they were assembled –  and especially the old glue in the few that survived the post war years.

Then New Zealander Glyn Powell, realizing that the only way a Mossie would ever fly again would be to basically build a new one from an old wreck, but he discovered that all the original jigs necessary to form the wooden structures had long since been destroyed.  Many of millions of dollars later, you can see the startling and wondrous results of his ambitious vision. As this modest restoration genius remarked, “The devil is in the details.”  The woodworking skill sets it took to create this amazing airplane are extremely difficult, if not almost impossible to find in this modern-day and age.

So, as a “retirement project,” Powell set out to build a new one from the chaotic assemblage of the junked remains he inherited, but he remained faithful to the original Mossies – right down to the last and smallest details.

Needless to say, it took him decades.

What followed is the first result to come from those painstakingly reconstructed forming jigs.

This reborn Mossie First flew in NZ in 2013, now it’s over here in the USA.

Was this the finest aircraft of WWII?

  • It could carry a greater bomb load to Berlin than a B-17
  • Could fly higher and/or faster than nearly all contemporary fighters, so no need for      defensive armament
  • The first true Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). Bomber, fighter, night-fighter, fighter-bomber, strike, anti-shipping, torpedo-bomber, photo-recce, trainer, target-tug.
  • 1/10th the loss rate of the Lancaster
  • On the relatively rare occasions when one did go down, 2 men were lost, not the 7 in a Lancaster or the 10 in a B-17
  • 1/3rd the cost of a Lancaster
  • So fast that the Americans, to avoid comparison, issued a standing order that their fastest fighter, the P-38 Lightning, was never to fly side-by-side with one.
  • Quotes:

o    AVM Don Bennett, AOC No 8 (Pathfinder) Group: “It’s quite clear that the value of the Mosquito to the war effort is significantly greater than that of any other aircraft in the history of aviation.”

o    General Erhard Milch, the deputy head of the Luftwaffe: “I fear that one day the British will start attacking with masses of this aircraft, which we should have.”

o   Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring head of the Luftwaffe: “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy.”

Please enjoy the video above and let us know how your rate the short 8 minute film.  If you click right here, you’ll see a 6 minute YouTube video of the reconstruction itself.

P.S. There’s now a second Mossie flying in Canada. So that’s two in North America and none in Britain. Hopefully our British brethren will soon remedy this shortcoming and pay proper tribute to their own glorious aviation past.


4 thoughts on “Out of WWII Aviation History Comes the Reborn Mosquito

    1. fasfric

      Thanks for the extremely sage and pertinent observations, Colonel. Great to have our more knowledgeable FASF members on their toes. Helps keep us on the ball! Sorry we missed including that solid observation you made, but it was surely very true that long before the newer era of the “stealth” vehicles, the Mossie was certainly one, if not the first “Stealth” aircraft, even though doubt the term had even been invented during WWII. Thanks so much for the vital input on our Mosquito story. I’ll go back into the story and add your observation.

  1. Jay Grawn

    The Mosquito is in my opinion the most beautiful, and deadly aircraft of WW 2. Speed, range, bomb load, and firepower were superb. The similar Hornet was also a fantastic aircraft, just too late to make an impact in the war. The later jet aircraft made these models obsolete, however, I have a great fondness for the innovative Mosquito. The mossie reminds me of scorned lady out for vengeance! Be afraid!


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