De Havilland
Mosquito

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 the greatest contribution by the De Havilland Aircraft Company to the success of the RAF in the Second World War.
 
The iconic design made use of a wooden 'sandwich' construction, drawing upon the experience gained from the high-speed DH88 Comet Racer, and the streamlined DH91 Albatross airliner. Such was its popularity amongst pilots that it soon 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 even as a simple target tug.
 
By 1938, the Ministry had started 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.
 
By September 1939,  Britain was at war and aircraft production in the UK was concentrated on the fighters such as the new Vickers Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane. New facilities were being created to meet the demand for these as well as heavy bombers like the Avro Lancaster, Vickers Wellington and Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley - wartime aircraft production was extremely focused.
 
As the conflict progressed, raw materials were in short supply and so the use of alternative, non-strategic construction resources was becoming increasingly important. Additionally, increasing significance was placed on the requirement for new aircraft designs to have a multi-role capability.
 
Despite their initial designs receiving an unfavourable reception, De Havilland persevered. Eventually and after a number of further impressive submissions, the Ministry warmed to the concept and a draft requirement was raised for a high-speed, light reconnaissance bomber capable of over 400 mph.
 
In order to maintain secrecy, the project was designed 6½ miles south of Hatfield at Salisbury Hall (former home of the infamous Nell Gwynne, mistress to Charles II). Additional connections to Winston Churchill and his family made this an ideal yet ironic hidden setting for the Design Team for one of Britain's favourite fighter aircraft. 
 
Salisbury Hall Salisbury Hall
 
Without any government funding, the project was financed as a 'private venture', only finally receiving official backing with the eventual release of Specification B.1/40 (1st March 1940), calling for 50 bomber / reconnaissance variants. This was then supplemented during May 1940 by Specification F.21/40, calling for a fully-armed, long-range fighter. As a result, De Havilland 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 Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, was 'not very specific' and rather conveniently it was largely ignored by Air Vice-Marshal Freeman (Vice-Chief of the Air Staff) who did not pass it on. 
 
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.
 
The first prototype (W4050 - E0234) flew at Hatfield on 25th November 1940, with Geoffrey R de Havilland (Geoffrey Junior) at the controls, accompanied by John E. Walker, the chief engine installation designer. Painted in 'prototype yellow', take off was reported as 'straight forward and easy' whilst the flight was relatively problem free, despite the undercarriage doors remaining slightly open.
 
Over the next test flights, various handling and performance issued were ironed out and during its trials on 16th January 1941, W4050 outpaced a Spitfire. The aircraft is currently preserved at the De Havilland Mosquito Museum at Salisbury Hall, alongside the M25 motorway.
 
A second prototype (W4051) flew as a photo-reconnaissance variant on 10th June 1941
 
De Haviland DH98 Mosquito De Havilland DH98 Mosquito E0234 outside the Assembly Building on 19th November 1940
 
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 an immediate success 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 Company, Airspeed, Standard Motors and Percival Aircraft Ltd with a number being built at the factories at De Havilland Canada and De Havilland 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) as well as numerous automotive coachbuilders such as the Standard Motor Company.
 
The Mosquito saw glory on a number of operations, the most famous being Operation Jericho on 18th February 1944.  Nine 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 skillful airmanship delivered low-level waves of bombs, first destroying the outer and inner prison walls, quickly followed by the Guard House itself.  A total of 255 allied prisoners escaped through the breaches in the buildings and walls although sadly 182 were soon recaptured.
 
On another occasion, a Mosquito daylight attack famously 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 chastised German aircraft manufacturers after the attack and at one address he is said to have 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.
 
Navalised Sea Mosquitos soon 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 of Mosquitoes were also used by national carrier BOAC as high-speed, unarmed wartime transports for VIPs, 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, 4 airworthy examples remain - See list below
 
DH98 Mosquito Image Gallery Multi-Media

of

DH98 Mosquito G-AGFV (DZ411) MkIV BOAC on 8th January 1943
DH98 Mosquito BOAC

DH98 Mosquito G-AGFV (DZ411) MkIV BOAC on 8th January 1943

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DH98 Mosquito 1,000th aircraft built at Wrighton Aircraft, Walthamstowe with workforce (Pt1)
DH98 Mosquito 1,000th aircraft

DH98 Mosquito 1,000th aircraft built at Wrighton Aircraft, Walthamstow with workforce (Pt1)

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DH98 Sea Mosquito LR387 prototype with torpedo
DH98 Sea Mosquito

DH98 Sea Mosquito (LR387) prototype mounted with torpedo

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DH98 Mosquito under tow at a snowy Downsview (DH Canada(
DH98 Mosquito

DH98 Mosquito under tow at a snowy Downsview (DH Canada(

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DH98 Mosquito Production in Australia
DH98 Mosquito Production

DH98 Mosquito Production in Australia

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DH98 Mosquito Mk 3 Turkish AF Air-Air 17.6.47
DH98 Mosquito Mk3

DH98 Mosquito Mk3 Turkish AF Air to Air 17th June 1947

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DH98 Mosquito being filmed during low flypast
DH98 Mosquito filmed

DH98 Mosquito being filmed during low flypast

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DH98 Mosquito Fuselage doping at Standard Motors.jpg
DH98 Mosquito Fuselage doping

DH98 Mosquito FB fuselage doping at Standard Motors in Coventry

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DH98 Mosquito NF air crew 1947
DH98 Mosquito Mk3

DH98 Mosquito NF air crew 1947

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DH98 Mosquito - Close up showing nose radar aerial
DH98 Mosquito nose radar aerial

DH98 Mosquito - Close up showing nose radar aerial

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2020 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH98 Mosquito FB.IV (DZ387) ground view
DH98 Mosquito FB.IV (DZ387)

DH98 Mosquito FB.IV (DZ387) ground view

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DH98 Mosquito RR299 air to air
DH98 Mosquito RR299

DH98 Mosquito RR299 air to air

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DH98 Mosquito flight trials with feathered port propeller
DH98 Mosquito feathered port propeller

DH98 Mosquito flight trials with feathered port propeller

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2020 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH98 Mosquito NFII's - 3 aircraft lined-up (including W4090)
DH98 Mosquito NFII's

DH98 Mosquito NFII's

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DH98 Mosquito Production at Leavesden
DH98 Mosquito Production

DH98 Mosquito Production at Leavesden

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2020 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
DH98 Mosquito E0234 (W4050) first flight 29th October 1940
DH98 Mosquito first flight

DH98 Mosquito E0234 (W4050) first flight 29th October 1940

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2020 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
 

Variants

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.
T. Mk III
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.
FB. Mk VI
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. 
B. Mk VII
25 built.
Canadian production based on B. Mk V. Merlin 31 (Packard). 
PR. Mk VIII
Two-stage supercharged Merlin 61s for high altitude operation. Otherwise as PR. Mk IV from which five aircraft were converted to this mark.
PR. Mk IX
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.
NF. Mk XII
99 conversions
Night fighter with airborne intercept radar. No machine guns fitted. Converted from F. Mk II, mainly at Marshalls, Cambridge.
NF. Mk XIII
As NF XII, but based on B VI with AI Mk VIII radar. Merlin 21 or 23 and ability to carry drop tanks.
NF. Mk XV
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.
PR. Mk XVI/B. Mk XVI
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.
NF. Mk XVII
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.
FB. Mk XVIII
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.
NF. Mk XIX
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

 

Survivors


Mosquito TT35           
(TA719)
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK                                             
www.iwm.org.uk
Mosquito Prototype
(W4050)
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, Hertfordshire, UK
www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
Mosquito FB.V1
(TA122)
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
Mosquito B.Mk.35
(TA634)
De Havilland Museum, London Colney, UK
www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
Mosquito TT35
(TJ138)
RAF Museum, Hendon, London, UK
www.rafmuseum.org.uk
Mosquito TT35     
(TA639)
RAF Museum, Cosford, Shrifnal, Shropshire, UK
www.rafmuseum.org.uk
Mosquito FB.26
(KA114) AIRWORTHY
Fighter Factory, The Military Aviation Museum, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
www.fighterfactory.com
Mosquito B.Mk.35
(RS700/CF-HMS)
Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Canada
www.bombercommandmuseum.ca
Mosquito B.Mk.35
(VP189/CF-HMQ)
Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, AB, Canada
www.albertaaviationmuseum.com
Mosquito B.Mk.35
(VR796) AIRWORTHY
Private (Robert Jens) at Vancouver International Airport, Canada
www.vicair.net
Mosquito B.XX
(KB336)
National Aeronautical Collection, Rockliffe, Canada
www.casmuseum.techno-science.ca
Mosquito B.T111
(TV959) AIRWORTHY
Flying Heritage Collection, Everett, Western Australia
www.flyingheritage.com
Mosquito B.Mk.35
(RS709)
National Museum of The United States Air Force, Dayton
www.nationalmuseum.af.mil
Mosquito TT.35
(RS712)
EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
www.eaa.org/eaa-museum
Mosquito NF.II
(HJ711)
Lincolnshire Aviation Museum, East Kirkby, Lincolnshire
Mosquito NF.XIX
(MM625)
Swedish Air Force Museum (A/C in California)
www.flygvapenmuseum.se
Mosquito B.Mk.35
(TH998)
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, USA
www.airandspace.si
Mosquito FB.VI
(HR621)
Camden Museum of Aviation, Narellan, Australia
Mosquito FB.VI
(PZ474) AIRWORTHY
Private (Charles Somers), Sacramento, California, USA
Mosquito PR.XVI
(NS631)
Mosquito Aircraft Assoc of Australia, Cheltenham, Australia
www.aussiemossie.asn.au
Mosquito PR.41
(A52-319)
Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra, Australia
www.awm.gov.au
Mosquito T.III
(TW117)
National Museum of Aviation, Bodo, Norway
www.luftfart.museum.no
Mosquito NF.30
(RK952)
Royal Army and Military History Museum, Brussels, Belgium
www.klm-mra.be
Mosquito PR.IX
(LR480)
S African Museum of Military History, Saxonwold, South Africa
www.ditsong.org.za

 

Other information