The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito is a British twin-engined, shoulder-winged multirole combat aircraft, introduced during the Second World War.
Unusual in that its frame was constructed mostly of wood, it was nicknamed the “Wooden Wonder”, or “Mossie”.
In 1941, it was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world.
Originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber, the Mosquito’s use evolved during the war into many roles, including low- to medium-altitude daytime tactical bomber, high-altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter bomber, intruder, maritime strike and photo-reconnaissance aircraft. It was also used by the BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) as a fast transport to carry small, high-value cargo to and from neutral countries through enemy controlled airspace.
A crew of two, pilot and navigator, sat side by side. A single passenger could ride in the aircraft’s bomb bay when necessary.
The Mosquito FBVI was often flown in special raids, such as Operation Jericho (an attack on Amiens Prison in early 1944), and precision attacks against military intelligence, security, and police facilities (such as Gestapo headquarters). On 30 January 1943, the 10th anniversary of the Nazis’ seizure of power, a morning Mosquito attack knocked out the main Berlin broadcasting station while Herman Goring was speaking, taking his speech off the air.
The Mosquito flew with the Royal Air Force (RAF), South African Air Force (SAAF) and other air forces such as the Royal Australian Air Force in the European, Mediterranean, Italian, Southeast Asian threaters and the Pacific War.
While timber construction was considered outmoded by some, de Havilland claimed that their successes with techniques used for the DH 91 Albatross could lead to a fast, light bomber using monocoque-sandwich shell construction. Arguments in favour of this included speed of prototyping, rapid development, minimisation of jig-building time, and employment of a separate category of workforce.
The ply-balsa-ply monocoque fuselage and one-piece wings with doped fabric covering would give excellent aerodynamic performance and low weight, combined with strength and stiffness.
Geoffrey de Havilland funded this as a private venture until a very late stage. The project was a success beyond all expectations. The initial bomber and photo-reconnaissance versions were extremely fast, whilst the armament of subsequent variants might be regarded as primarily offensive.
The most-produced variant, designated the FB Mk VI (Fighter-bomber Mark 6), was powered by two Merlin Mk 23 or Mk 25 engines driving three-bladed de Havilland hydromatic propellers. The typical fixed armament for an FB Mk VI was four Browning .303 machine guns and four 20-mm Hispano cannons, while the offensive load consisted of up to 2,000 pounds (910 kg) of bombs, or eight RP-3 unguided rockets.
The Mosquito flew its last official European war mission on 21 May 1945, when Mosquitos of 143 Squadron and 248 Squadron RAF were ordered to continue to hunt German submarines that might be tempted to continue the fight; instead of submarines all the Mosquitos encountered were passive E-boats.
South Africa received two F.II and 14 PR.XVI/XIs.
There are approximately 30 non-flying Mosquitos around the world with four airworthy examples, three in the United States and one in Canada.
Number built: 7,781
First flight: 25 November 1940