The de Havilland (Britain) D.H.98 Mosquito - often nicknamed as the "wooden wonder" because of its all-wood construction - was without doubt one of the most outstanding and versatile aircraft used by any of the combatants during the Second World War. Indeed so dependable, efficient and versatile proved its design that the main criticism was "that there were never enough Mosquitos available to go around" - and its exploits were to become legendary. The Mosquito served with distinction in the roles of fast bomber, night fighter, fighter bomber and photo reconnaissance.
With this in mind it is hard to understand that during the development period of the Mosquito there was more than one occasion where the whole project was in great danger of being finally cancelled by the authorities and could only kept alive by the massive support by a few far-sighted people (like Sir Patrick Hennessy and Air Marshall Sir Wilfred Freeman). Partially these problems resulted from conventional thinking in the the Air Ministry (the idea of a high-speed bomber without defensive armament which relied only on its speed to evade intercepting fighters and the wooden construction of the Mosquito looked too revolutionary for some high-ranking persons), partially the very critical war situation (early 1940) forced to concentrate all resources on the production of interceptor fighters and left little space for the development and production of new types.
The origins of the Mosquito can be traced back to 1935, but it was not before November 25, 1940 until the first prototype took off for its maiden flight with Geoffrey de Havilland (Britain), Jr. at the controls. This flight lasted 30 minutes and from then on there was little doubt that the aircraft had unsurpassed potential as a combat aircraft. Between 1940 and November 1950 a total of 7,781 Mosquitos were produced. Mosquito production also took place in Canada (1,034 examples), Australia (212 machines) and China, where about 200 aircraft were assembled in the late forties from kits delivered from Canada, and the type served with the RAF worldwide on a variety of duties well into the fifties (last sortie of an RAF Mosquito was flown on December 15, 1955) - and also with a number of foreign users (among them Australia, Belgium, Burma, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, France, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, USA, USSR and Yugoslavia) during and/or after the war.
The Mosquito was built in a large variety of versions with mark numbers between Mk.I and Mk.43 (after Mk.XX Arabic numbers were used instead of Roman to avoid confusion - and after the war the RAF changed the Roman numbers into Arabic ones at all) with the respective layout normally being denoted by the following prefix letters:
The variants Mk.XX, Mk.21, Mk.22, Mk.25, Mk.26 and Mk.29 were built in Canada, whereas Mks.40, 41, 42 and 43 were produced in Australia. These machines differed from their British equivalents in equipment details (Canadian-built aircraft normally had Packard-built Merlin engines). Of course there existed a large number of testbed and experimental variants, too.
The only Mosquito variant known to have been delivered to the Soviet Union is the B.Mk.IV.
|Created for RAM December 18, 1999
by Thomas Heinz;
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