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Bits and Pieces

First Flight of the World's Only Flying Mosquito

Restored Canadian Mosquito
Restored Canadian Mosquito surrounded by admiring onlookers

By Ian Brown, Editor - Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

A Canadian classic wartime aircraft, the British-designed de Havilland Mosquito, was languishing in the Canadian Museum of Flight just waiting for some heavy investment!

Jerry Yagen of the Fighter Factory Collection in Virginia, United States, purchased the aeroplane and had it shipped to New Zealand, where it was completely restored to flying condition by AvSpecs Ltd. in Ardmore. It recently landed in Auckland on its maiden flight from Ardmore and was the featured aircraft at the air show there on September 27. Visit the AvSpecs Facebook page for more pictures of this wonderful aircraft, along with tons of information about this and other projects the company is working on.

The pilot for the maiden flight was Cathay pilot David Phillips. As well as flying his own Hawker Hunter jet, he is well-known as one of New Zealand's most experienced pilots in vintage and classic aircraft. He commented that the Mosquito was quite unlike anything he's flown before.

"Kind of heavy and light at the same time," he said. "It's hard to describe." He said he was "conscious of what you would be remembered for if anything went wrong. It was lovely. They did a fantastic job of building it."

Observer for this first flight was Warren Denholm who runs AvSpecs, which has been rebuilding the aircraft since 2005. Since this was his first time in a Mosquito - the first time anyone has flown one in many years - he was quoted as "also concentrating hard on the gauges" during the maiden flight.

KA 114 was built in Canada and saw brief service in 1945 before going into reserve storage. It was sold to a farmer, and it lay in a field for 30 years before it was moved to the Canadian Museum of Flight awaiting a proper restoration. The wood-and-balsa-core sandwich construction fuselage broke in two when being rescued from the field. Two 11-meter moulds had to be constructed by Kiwi Glyn Powell to lay up the fuselage halves. They also constructed the 16.5-meter wing.

Mosquitos were used most successfully as U-boat hunters beginning in 1941, but they were also in frequent use as low-level daytime bombers and as photographic reconnaissance aircraft. They also served a role as night pathfinder bombers in the Light Night Strike Force for the heavier bombing raids over Germany. They were one of the fastest operational aircraft at the time, and the Luftwaffe was incapable of intercepting them. They were affectionately known as the "Mossie" by those who flew in them, and they were also used in the Pacific theater by the Australian RAAF, based in the Halmaheras and in Borneo. The most-produced version, the FB VI (fighter bomber mark 6) used two Rolls-Royce Merlin Mk 23 or Mk 25 engines driving three-bladed de Havilland hydromatic propellers and with drop tanks; the aircraft had a fuel capacity of up to 715 imperial gallons. The Mosquito had a range of between 2,000 and 2,500 nautical miles depending on mark and configuration and would cruise at speeds in excess of 200 mph fully loaded, and over 250 mph configured for photoreconnaissance.

There is an excellent review of the Mosquito's history on Wikipedia, including a reference to Hermann Göring's frustration about the British being able to build such a beautiful aircraft out of wood when they had a much easier time of obtaining aluminum than did the Germans. He ended his complaint by stating that at the end of the war he was going to buy a British radio so at least he would have one that worked reliably. Would he have predicted that British radios would be made of parts manufactured for the most part in the Far East today?

This particular Mossie will be returned to North America, so hopefully Canadians will have the opportunity to see her flying in our neighbourhood sometime soon.

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