Mosquito, de Havilland

Mosquito, de Havilland Photo by Evert J. van Koningsveld.

The de Havilland Mosquito was a twin-engined aircraft of plywood monocoque construction, designed originally as a fast, unarmed light bomber. This concept was regarded as an aberration by the authorities, but the performance of the Mosquito silenced the critics. At night it operated with impunity over Germany to the end of the war, because the Luftwaffe never had a nightfighter fast enough to intercept it. The Mosquito also served with distinction as fighter-bomber, recconaissance aircraft and nightfighter. It was one of the finest aircraft of WWII, with a versatility only matched by the German Junkers Ju 88. The nightfighter versions remained in production until 1947.

Type: Mosquito B.IV
Country: UK
Function: bomber
Year: 1942
Crew: 2
Engines: 2 * 918kW Rolls-Royce Mk.21
Wing Span: 16.51 m
Length: 12.43 m
Height: 4.65 m
Wing Area: 42.18 m2
Empty Weight: 5942 kg
Max.Weight: 10152 kg
Speed: 612 km/h Ceiling: 9500 m Range: 1960 km
Armament: 907 kg

Type: Mosquito NF.II
Function: nightfighter
Year: 1942
Crew: 2
Engines: 2 * 1075kW R.R. Merlin 23
Wing Span: 16.51m
Length: 12.34m
Height: 4.65m
Wing Area: 41.81m2
Empty Weight: 6093kg
Speed: 595km/h
Ceiling: 11000m
Range: 2740km
Armament: 4*g20mm 4*mg7.7mm

Type: Mosquito FB Mk. VI
Function: fighter-bomber
Year: 1943
Crew: 2
Engines: 2 * 1250hp R.R. Merlin XXI
Wing Span: 16.51m
Length: 12.47m
Height: 4.65m
Wing Area: 42.18m2
Empty Weight: 6486kg
Max.Weight: 10115kg
Speed: 611km/h
Ceiling: 11000m
Range: 1940km
Armament: 4*g20mm 4*mg7.7mm 905kg

Type: Mosquito NF Mk.30
Function: nightfighter
Year: 1944
Crew: 2
Engines: 2 * 1710hp R.R. Merlin 76
Wing Span: 16.51 m
Length: 12.64 m
Height: 4.65 m
Wing Area: 41.81 m2
Empty Weight: 6875 kg
Speed: 682km/h
Range: 1900km

The de Havilland Mosquito ("The Wooden Wonder" a.k.a. "The Timber Terror") was a military aircraft that excelled in a number of roles during World War II. It was a twin-engine aircraft with the pilot and navigator sitting side by side. Unorthodox in design, it used a plywood structure of spruce and balsa when wood and fabric construction was considered outdated. It was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.

The Mosquito was conceived as a fast day bomber that could outrun all contemporary fighters and hence dispensed with defensive armament; however, owing to its speed, agility and its exceptional durability due to its wooden design, it was also used as a fighter. The fighter versions used a flat windshield to aid sighting. Its various roles included tactical bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike or photo-reconnaissance aircraft. It served with the RAF, RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF, USAAF and Israeli Air Force, plus the air forces of Belgium, Burma, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Sweden, Turkey, Yugoslavia and the Dominican Republic. During much of the war the Mosquito was the fastest aircraft in the sky on either side, and one of the most maneuverable - in mock combats it could climb faster and turn more quickly than a Spitfire.


The genius of the aircraft's construction lay in the innovative and somewhat unorthodox use of seemingly commonplace materials and techniques. The bulk of the Mosquito was made of plywood. Stronger and lighter than most grades of plywood, this special plywood was produced by a combination of 3/8" sheets of Ecuadorean balsawood sandwiched between sheets of Canadian birch plywood. Like a deck of cards, sheets of wood alternated with sheets of a special casein-based (later formaldehyde) wood glue.

Forming the fuselage was done in concrete molds. Left and right sides of the fuselage were fitted with bulkheads and structural members separately while the glue cured. Reinforcing was done with hundreds of small brass wood screws. This arrangement greatly simplified the installation of hydraulic lines and other fittings, as the two halves of the fuselage were open for easy access by workers. The two halves of the fuselage were then glued and bolted together, and covered with doped Madapolam fabric.

The wings were also made of wood. To increase strength, the wings were made as one single assembly, onto which the fuselage, once both halves had been mated, was lowered and attached. Metal was used sparingly in the construction of structural elements. It was mostly used in engine mounts and fairings, control surfaces, and of course, brass screws.

The glue used was initially casein-based. It was changed to a formaldehyde-based preparation when the Mosquito was introduced to fighting in semi-tropical and tropical climates, after some unexplained crashes led to the suspicion that the glue was unable to withstand the climate. De Havilland also developed a technique to accelerate the glue drying by heating it using radio waves.

The specialized wood veneer used in the construction of the Mosquito was made by Roddis Manufacturing in Marshfield, Wisconsin, United States. Hamilton Roddis had teams of dexterous young women ironing the (unusually thin) strong wood veneer product before shipping to the UK.

Text : Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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