As you will know from past posts on this site, I have something of an obsession with de Havilliand twins, especially the Mosquito. It was without doubt one of the most important British aircraft of the war.
As it stands there are no flying Mosquito’s left in the UK but we do have 7 static examples scattered around museums, this post takes a look at those examples.
The de Havilland aircraft museum at Sailsbury Hall, London Colney is home to three Mosquitos, nearly half of the Uk’s Population. Sailsbury Hall was the site where the Mosquito prototype was built during the early days of world war two, so in many ways is the types home.
Currently the only fully restored mosquito at the museum is TT.35 TA634. This late example of the type wears the colours of 571 squadron markings and is an impressive example of the bomber version of the aircraft.
There is relatively little information about this aircraft that I can find. I assume, like the other surviving TT.35s it was built around 1945 and later converted to the TT35 standard before joing a target towing flight. There is mention of it having spent some time at Exeter.
The second aircraft at Sailsbury is FB.VI TA112. The aircraft was built in 1945 and was quickly sent to Belgium where it joined 605 squadron. The aircraft flew a series of missions before the end of the war. It was eventually struck off charge in 1950. It was bought by a dutch university in 1951 where it was displayed, though the wings were removed at this stage and the wing sections scattered around various museums.
Eventually moving into storage, the fuselage was given to the Mosquito museum in 1975. A new wing was found and restoration began in 1985. Fast forward to present day and the restoration is very nearly complete with the aircraft sitting on its undercarriage once again. ‘112 wears the colours of 605 squadron.
The third and arguably most important Mosquito in the collection is W4050, the first Mosquito prototype. Displayed in its distinctive all over yellow paint scheme for years the aircraft is currently being put back together after going through a full restoration back to display condition, there is still a lot of work to do but the team hope to have it completed by November.
The prototype was built at Sailsbury Hall, literally a stones throw from where the museum now resides, in 1940 and was transported by road to Hatfield on October the 3rd. ‘050 first flew on the 25th November, piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland Jnr. Test flying continued well until a landing accident in 1941. Following the damage the fuselage had to be replaced with one built for W4051.
The prototype was grounded in 1944 and was used as a training airframe. The aircraft was put on permanent display at Sailsbury hall in 1959.
The Royal Air Force museum has a Mosquito at each of its sites:
At home in the Milestones hangar at Hendon is B.35 TJ138, the aircraft is displayed in a unique tail up position and wears 98 squadron markings. The aircraft was built at Hatfield and delivered as part of a batch of aircraft between July and November 1945. The aircraft flew with 98 Squadron in West Germany until 1950 when it returned to the UK and was placed into storage.
In July 1953 the aircraft was moved to Sywell where it was converted into TT.35 standard before moving to Llambeder in March 1954. It served as a target towing aircraft until 1959 when it was put up for disposal.
It moved around the country being put on display at various museums and bases before finally ending up in the Bomber Hall at Hendon in 1992.
At their Cosford site the museum has TT.35 TA639. This aircraft was built at Hatfield in 1945 and was immediately sent into storage at Shawbury. This is where the aircraft remained until 1952 when it was transferred to Sywell for conversion to TI.35 standard.
The aircraft went on to have a busy life as a target towing aircraft throughtout the 50s, eventually ending up at Exeter airport. As well as tug work the aircraft also participated in some air displays. In May 1963 the aircraft was struck off charge.
The Mosquito then moved into private hands and was used in the film 633 Squadron. The aircraft made its final flight on the 3rd October 1965 and was transferred to the museum in 1967.
Hung from the ceiling in the airspace hangar at Duxford is Mosquito TT.35 TA719, the aircraft is painted in distinvtive target towing colours.
Much like the RAF museum aircraft this machine was built in 1945 and was later converted to TT.35 status at Sywell. By 1954 the aircraft was target towing at Exeter airport. It was sold in 1963 and put on the civil register as G-ASKC. Following filming work for 633 Squadron the aircraft ended up at Staverton airport, where it was cannabalised. The aircraft moved into the Imperial War Museum Collection in 1978.
The Yorkshire air museum at Elvington is home to NF.II HJ711 which is a composite aircraft. HJ711 comprises of the nose section of HJ711, rear fuselage from TT.35 RS715, Centre section of MK.XVI PF498 and the outer wings of T.3 VA878. Restoration work started on this ambitious project in 1970s as all the parts were collected from around the world. The aircraft remains the only example of an NF.II Mosquito in the world. This Mosquito remains the only “Live” mosquito in the UK having turned the props over on the starter motors.
We are lucky in this country to have a large number of Mosquitos including a number of different variants. However i think i speak for a lot of people when i say i hope to revisit this post in a few years and add an airworthy example or two to this list.