Missing The de Havilland Mosquito
By James Grahame
Despite the promise of imminent flight lurking in this old snapshot, there are no flying de Havilland DH-98 Mosquitoes left. The last airworthy model crashed at an airshow back in 1996.
When it entered service in April 1941, the wood-framed Mosquito was one of the fastest production aircraft in the world, capable of almost 400 mph. Astonishingly, this little fighter-bomber bested the Hawker Hurricane and matched the speed of the Supermarine Spitfire.
The fuselage of the Mosquito was made of balsa wood sandwiched between layers of cedar plywood, while the rest of the airframe was constructed of plywood covered spruce. It was an unusual construction technique, but the incorporation of wood instead of scarce metal ensured that the unorthodox design reached production.
The result was one of the most useful aircraft of WWII -- a multi-role design that excelled at photo reconnaissance, precision bombing and even as a night fighter. Perhaps most importantly, DH-98s were loaded with state-of-the-art radio navigation equipment and used as pathfinder aircraft to mark targets for waves of slow and cumbersome RAF bombers. Thanks to its high performance and well trained crews, the Mosquito saw the lowest losses of any Allied aircraft during WWII.
Sadly, the wooden frame wasn't built to last and the concrete molds required to shape the plywood are long gone, almost guaranteeing that the Mosquito will remain a memory.
For history, stories and technical details, visit The Mosquito Page.