One of the most well-known English Aircraft manufacturer De Havilland produced one of the most iconic birds of the second world war which of course was the Mosquito. They may have been less heralded than the Lancaster or Halifax, nor as sexy as the Spitfire or Hurricane but this versatile two-man machine may have actually been the greatest warplane of them all. It was so highly thought of by the Axis that they were allowed to count each Wooden Wonder shot down as two ‘kills’. According to wartime test pilot Eric “Winkle” Brown, “I’m often asked, what type of aircraft saved Britain. My answer is that the Mosquito was particularly important because it wasn’t just a fighter or a bomber. It was a night fighter, a reconnaissance aircraft. A ground-attack aircraft. It was a multi-purpose aircraft.” and historian Sir Max Hastings supports this view, saying “The Mosquito helped transform the fortunes of the bomber offensive. It was obvious that this was a real game changer. In many ways, from the outset it became plain that the Mosquito was a much more remarkable aircraft than the Lancaster. Yes, the Lancaster is the aircraft that everybody identifies with Bomber Command, but in many ways the Mosquito, although it has received much less attention, was a much more remarkable aircraft…You’ve got the range, the height, the speed. It can do anything and in that sense, I think some of us would argue this is a more remarkable design achievement than the Spitfire.”
Over 7000 were produced and when De Havilland realised they had bitten off more than they could chew they arranged to have them out sourced to Canada to be built, well I suppose that made sense considering they were in part produced out of Canadian Spruce. Other woods included birch, balsa and plywood. One of the Mosquitoes greatest attributes was that due to being formed from wood, which would have been crafted by carpenters and joiners and then a fixed later, it could command a greater speed than many made from heavier metal.
This Canadian connection could also explain some of the names given to the aircraft. Many of the wooden wonders were adorned with nose art, not as polished or artistic as some and certainly no sensual half-dressed broads but still some brilliant art. I have collated a few examples below.
And last but by no means least, I just had to include this, okay so it is not actually on the nose but how often do you see art on the crew hatch? Below flight lieutenant A Torrence from Stonehouse Lanarkshire in Scotland climbs into his Popeye adorned FB VI at Parashuram India.
Of course after their impressive record of raids including an attack on the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo, its main pro become its main con. Whereas metal birds were preserved (or melted down) often if the Mossie survived the shrapnel and Axis fire they would just rot away in hangars. As such the next generation are not left with much of a Mosquito heritage and as any of you with children will know, it is so much easier to interest a child if they can see (and preferably touch) the subject. Surely we wouldn’t want the appreciation for an aircraft which, in part won us the war, to end with our generation. We have a responsibility to educate the future generations. To this end ‘The Peoples Mosquito’ , whose motto is “To Fly, To Educate, To Remember” , has a vision to return a fully functional and flying Mosquito to our skies. This benevolent and non-profit organisation, who’s patron is Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, plan to restore a Mosquito with the purpose of education at its center. This would be a pinnacle in UK aviation and would allow for better educating future generations on just how important this wonderful piece of wood really was during World war II.
The only obstacle in their way is their way is the 5.6 million pound cost of restoring the war bird and getting in the air, this is where you, the people, can get involved. As an Incorporated Charity they are asking for donations and also have merchandise you can purchase to help this vision become a reality. Imagine the pride in your little ones eyes when they are fortunate enough to watch this elegant bird fly over Duxford or Shuttleworth and you are ‘let slip’ how you helped get her there.
To learn more about ‘The People’s Mosquito’ and to sponsor or purchase please visit them at