This website uses cookies. By navigating around this site you consent to cookies being stored on your machine

De Havilland

The fastest fighter bomber of World War II
‘We believe that we could produce a twin-engine bomber which would have a performance so outstanding that little defensive equipment would be needed’.
Geoffrey de Havilland - September 1939
De Havilland DH98 Mosquito T Mk III De Havilland DH98 Mosquito T.MkIII (RR299 / G-ASKH)
The hugely versatile and high-performance DH98 Mosquito was unquestionably De Havilland’s greatest contribution to the success of the RAF in the Second World War.
The design made use of a wooden sandwich construction, drawing upon experience from the DH88 Comet Racer and the DH91 Albatross airliner and because of this it became affectionately known as ‘The Wooden Wonder’.  
Originally conceived as a high-flying, unarmed photo-reconnaissance aircraft, the Mosquito saw service in wide-ranging roles from bomber, fighter-bomber, night-fighter, anti-shipping strike, trainer, torpedo bomber and target tug.
With World War 2 raging throughout Europe, UK aircraft production was concentrated on the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane fighters alongside heavy bombers such as the Avro Lancaster, Vickers Wellington and Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley.  Wartime aircraft production was at its height so the use of alternative, non-strategic materials and the ability for an aircraft to perform several roles became of increasing significance.
By 1938, the Ministry were looking for a heavily-armed, multi-role aircraft to which Geoffrey de Havilland responded ‘we believe that we could produce a twin-engine bomber which would have a performance so outstanding that little defensive equipment would be needed’.  Nevertheless, at a meeting in October of that year the Ministry showed very little interest and ordered The De Havilland Company to act as sub-contractors, building wings for other bombers as a sub-contractor.
De Havilland persevered and after a number of impressive submissions the Ministry warmed to their concept and a draft requirement was raised for a high-speed, light reconnaissance bomber capable of over 400 mph.
The project was being designed in secrecy at Salisbury Hall (current home of the DH Mosquito  Museum in London Colney, Hertfordshire).  It was being financed as a private venture, only finally receiving official backing with the release of Specification B.1/40 on 1st March 1940 which called for 50 bomber / reconnaissance variants. 
This was then supplemented in May 1940 by Specification F.21/40 calling for a fully-armed, long-range fighter and as a result De Havilland’s were authorised to build a fighter version of the DH98.
Construction of the prototypes began in March 1940 although work was cancelled soon after due to the losses suffered at the Battle of Dunkirk. 
Thankfully, the instruction issued by Minister of Aircraft Production Lord Beaverbrook was not very specific and it was largely ignored by Air Vice-Marshal Freeman (Vice-Chief of the Air Staff). 
Despite this however, development was very slow with the Design Team, led by Ron Bishop, experiencing severe shortages of base materials for the creation of initial prototypes.
DH98 Mosquito (E0234 - W4050) under covers at Hatfield 1940 DH98 Mosquito (E0234 - W4050) under covers at Hatfield 1940
Three prototypes were eventually built with the first (W4050 / E0234) being transported under covers to Hatfield where, following re-assembly, it flew on 25th November 1940 with founder's son, Geoffrey de Havilland Junior, at the controls.
The second prototype (W4051) served as the basis for the photo-reconnaissance variant which was actually the first type to enter service as the Mosquito PR1 and flew its first operational sortie in June 1941. 
The third prototype (W4052) was used for the development of the fighter variant with cannon and machine gun armament.  It would also carry Airborne Interception (AI) equipment to enhance both its night and day fighter capabilities.
On entry into service, the ‘Mossie’ was immediately successful and became well-known for its bombing, pathfinder and precision, low-level strike capabilities. Wartime development however resulted in a wide range of variants and a significant increase in bomb load capability and range due to the incorporation of a larger bomb bay and auxiliary fuel tanks.
The major production was carried out in the UK by De Havilland Aircraft Co, Airspeed, Standard Motors and Percival Aircraft Ltd with a number being built at the DH Factories in Canada and Australia.
De Havilland DH98 Mosquito FB.40 (A52-1) - 1st Australian Mosquito built 1941 DH98 Mosquito FB.40 (A52-1) - 1st Australian Mosquito built 1941
A high number of sub-contractors were also engaged in component manufacture, particularly the wooden furniture companies of High Wycombe (which by coincidence was Geoffrey de Havilland’s birthplace).
The Mosquito saw glory on a number of occasions, the most famous being Operation Jericho on 18th February 1944.  9 Mosquito FB Mk VI Bombers, operating out of RAF Hunsdon in Hertfordshire, attacked the German held prison at Amiens on the edge of the Somme Valley.  Their skilful airmanship delivered low-level waves of bombs, first destroying the outer and inner prison walls quickly followed by the Guard House.  A total of 255 allied prisoners escaped although sadly 182 were soon recaptured.
On another occasion a Mosquito daylight attack knocked out the main Berlin broadcasting station on the very day Herman Göring (German Commander in Chief) was giving a speech to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Nazis’ seizing of power.
Göring often chasitised German aircraft manufacturers and at one address he commented,
‘In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I'm going to buy a British radio set – then at least I'll own something that has always worked!’.
The Mosquito flew its last war mission on 21st May 1945 when it joined in the hunt for German submarines that might have been tempted to disobey the surrender order.
De Haviland DH98 Mosquito PR Mk9 (LR432 nearest) 1943 De Haviland DH98 Mosquito PR Mk9 (LR432 nearest) 1943
The Mosquito showed true versatility through its wide range of variants which included photo-reconnaissance, mid and heavy bombing, day / night fighter as well as the mixed fighter / bombers.
The aircraft also proved to be a superb two-seat trainer of which some 348 were built for the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm. 
Navalised Mosquitos appeared on aircraft carriers after Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown landed a modified Mosquito FB.VI (designated Sea Mosquito TR.33) on HMS Indefatigable on 25th March 1944 and 50 Torpedo-bombers were built at Leavesden shortly after.
De Havilland DH98 Sea Mosquito TR33 (LR367) at Hatfield 12-6-45 De Havilland DH98 Sea Mosquito TR33 (LR367) at Hatfield 12th June 1945
A small number were used as high speed unarmed wartime transports by BOAC, operating flights to and from Sweden.
Lastly, during its final days, a number of Mosquito TT Mk35’s acted as Target Towing Tugs for both the Belgian Air Force and the RAF. The last operational flight by a Mosquito was in May 1963 when No.3 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-Operation Unit retired their TT.35 variants.
The total number of aircraft built was 7,781, the type serving with the main Allied air forces, including both the United States and Russia.
Today, only 2 airworthy examples remain: A DH Mosquito Mk.35 Bomber took to the air in Canada on 16th June 2014 and it joined DH Mosquito FB.26 (KA114).  Both aircraft are listed below and it is hoped that a 3rd aircraft will be joining the list very soon. 


PR. Mk I                           
10 Built
1,300 hp Merlin 21, max weight 18,050 lb, unarmed, four cameras. Short engine nacelles.
F. Mk II / NF Mk II
589 built / 199 converted
199 subsequently converted to NF. Mk XII and XVII, Merlin 21 or 23, four machine guns plus four cannon. Maximum speed 370 mph, maximum weight 18,547 lb. Some PR conversions.
364 built
Unarmed trainer with dual controls. Merlin 21 or 23/25. 
B. Mk IV
283 built
Night bomber using Merlin 21 or 23. Bulged bomb bay fitted to some to allow carriage of 4,000 lb bomb internally. Max speed 380 mph, max weight 21,462 lb. Twenty seven built as B.Mk IV modified for PR role
B. Mk V
1 built (Prototype)
Two 1,000 lb bombs internally and two underwing 500 lb bombs.
2,305 built.
Fighter bomber / intruder variant using Merlin 22, 23 or 25. 4 machine guns and 4 cannons, plus 2 x 250 lb bombs carried internally & underwing carriage of up to 2 x 500 lb bombs. Could be fitted with underwing rocket projectiles or drop tanks instead of external bomb carriage. 
25 built.
Canadian production based on B. Mk V. Merlin 31 (Packard). 
Two-stage supercharged Merlin 61s for high altitude operation. Otherwise as PR. Mk IV from which five aircraft were converted to this mark.
90 built
1,680 hp Merlin 72 (some with Merlin 76/77)
B. Mk IX
54 built
1,680 hp Merlin 72 engines – otherwise as B. Mk IV. 54 built. Could carry 2,000 lb internally, plus one 500 lb bomb or a drop tank under each wing. Some modified with bulged bomb bay doors for 4,000 lb bomb.
99 conversions
Night fighter with airborne intercept radar. No machine guns fitted.  Converted from F. Mk II, mainly at Marshalls, Cambridge.
As NF XII, but based on B VI with AI Mk VIII radar. Merlin 21 or 23 and ability to carry drop tanks.
High altitude fighter with cockpit pressurisation and increased wing span. Five converted from B IV. Airborne intercept radar. Four Browning machine guns in under-fuselage pack.
833 built
Similar to respective Mk IX models, with pressurised cockpit. 433 PR XVI, 400 B XVI (powered either by Merlin72/73 or 76/77). Most B. Mk XVI with bulged bomb bay door for 4,000 lb bomb. Max weight (B. Mk XVI) 25,200 lb.
99 conversions
As NF. Mk XIII, but fitted with US radar (UK designation AI Mk X). One prototype plus F. Mk II conversions by Marshall of Cambridge.
27 conversions
Basically an FB. Mk VI, with a 57mm cannon in fuselage instead of the four 20 mm cannon. Intended for anti-ship and anti-submarine strike. Four machine guns retained and provision for the external carriage of rocket projectiles or bombs.
280 built
Similar to NF. Mk XVII, but based on NF. Mk XIII with Merlin 25 engines.
B. Mk XX
245 built
Built by de Havilland Canada with 1,460 hp Packard Merlin 31 or 33. Specification otherwise as B. Mk VII.
FB. Mk 21
3 built
Canadian-built FB. Mk VI, with Packard Merlin 31 or 33.
T. Mk 22
6 built
Canadian equivalent of T. Mk III with Packard Merlin 33.
FB. Mk 24
1 built
FB. Mk 21 with Packard Merlin 301
B. Mk 25
400 built
Canadian-built B. Mk 20 with 1,620 hp Packard Merlin 225.
FB. Mk 26
337 built
As FB. Mk 21 with increased power Packard Merlin 225 engines.
T. Mk 27
As T. Mk 22 with Merlin 225. 49 built.
T. Mk 29
39 Conversions
Dual control conversions from FB. Mk 26.
NF. Mk 30
530 built
Similar to NF. Mk XIX. Powered by Merlin 72 (1680 hp), or Merlin 76 (1,710 hp), or Merlin 113 (1,690 hp). Max weight 21,105 lb. Max speed 424 mph at 26,500 ft.
PR. Mk 32
5 built
High altitude, long span and lightweight version of PR. Mk XVI.
PR. Mk 34
231 built
PR version with increased fuel tankage for long range operations. Additional fuselage fuel and 200 gallon drop tanks – total capacity 1,269 Imp gallons. Merlin 113/114 engines and 25,500 maximum weight. Cruising range in excess of 3,500 miles.
B. Mk 35
276 built
140+ conversions
Bomber variant with Merlin 113/114. Also used as a target tug by Civilian Anti Aircraft Cooperation Units (TT Mk 35). Conversions by Brooklands Aviation.
NF. Mk 36
163 built
Night fighter version with Merlin 113 and AI Mk IX radar.
NF. Mk 38
101 built
Similar to NF. Mk 36 with AI Mk IX radar and Merlin 113/114 engines.
TT. Mk 39
31 conversions
Target tug conversion from B. Mk XVI. Rear compartment for target operator and ungainly glazed nose. Conversions by General Aircraft Ltd.
FB. Mk 40 / PR. Mk 40
212 built
Australian-built. Generally as FB. Mk VI, with Packard-built Merlin 31 or 33. Six aircraft modified for PR use as PR. Mk 40.
PR. Mk 41
28 conversions
FB. Mk 40 converted to PR role using Merlin 69 engines
FB. Mk 42
1 conversion
FB. Mk 40 with Merlin 69 engines.
T. Mk 43
22 conversions
Dual control conversions of Merlin 33-powered FB. Mk 40.

Specification (B Mk XVI)

Powerplant Two 1,710 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 76/77 V12 engines
Span 54 ft 2 in
Maximum Weight 23,000 lb
Capacity Two crew
Maximum Speed  408 mph
Range 1,485 miles


Mosquito TT35
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambs UK
Mosquito Prototype
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
Mosquito FB.V1 De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
Mosquito B.Mk.35
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
Mosquito TT35
RAF Museum, Hendon, UK
Mosquito TT35
RAF Museum, Cosford, UK
Mosquito FB.26
Fighter Factory, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Mosquito B.Mk.35
Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Canada
Mosquito B.Mk.35
Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Mosquito B.Mk.35
Vancouver International Airport, Canada
Mosquito B.XX
National Aeronautical Collection, Rockliffe, Canada
Mosquito B.T111
Flying Heritage Collection, Everett, Western Australia
Mosquito B.Mk.35
National Museum of The United States Air Force, Dayton
Mosquito TT.35
EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Mosquito NF.XIX
Swedish Air Force Museum (A/C in California)
Mosquito B.Mk.35
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly USA
Mosquito FB.VI
Camden Museum of Aviation, Narellan, Australia
Mosquito PR.XVI
Mosquito Aircraft Assoc of Australia, Cheltenham, Australia
Mosquito PR.41
Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra, Australia
Mosquito T.III
National Museum of Aviation, Bodo, Norway
Mosquito NF.30
Royal Army and Military History Museum, Brussels, Belgium
Mosquito PR.IX
S African Museum of Military History, Saxonwold, South Africa

More information

or via email to:
Please note that the information shown is based on that available at the time of the creation of this web page - If you have any additions or corrections please contact: