The summer of 2010 was the hottest in recorded history, and it wasn’t just the temperature that was unusually warm that year. The average temperature in the world’s most famous spot for mosquitoes was 23.6 degrees Celsius, and it was so sweltering in June and July that the U.S. state of Florida had its first ever cases of West Nile Virus. So, how did it all start? The mosquito that became synonymous with the summer of 2010 wasn’t the only one to survive the heat wave: one of the world’s most famous aquatic insects also thrived.

Throughout the history of the world, many insects and animals have brought great destruction and suffering to mankind. One such example of this is the mosquito. Introduced to the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the mosquito is responsible for the spread of transmittable diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and the Zika virus.

Amazing as it was, the mosquito is not necessarily a miracle worker. A seemingly magical creature, it cannot play a major role in the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The Aedes aegypti is a complicated creature: its complex life cycle and ability to move between countries and continents is complicated and, as a result, the Aedes aegypti is too.

It might be claimed that no aircraft had a more impressive combat record in such a short period of time than the Mosquito.

Every warbirder could name a dozen of the most famous aircraft from the hundreds that flew during WWII. B-17, Corsair, Lancaster, B-29, Fw-190, Me-262… Spitfire, P-51, Zero, Stuka, Me-109, PBY, B-17, Corsair, Lancaster, B-29, Fw-190, Me-262… The list of candidates is almost infinite, and each list would be unique. The Timber Terror, the Loping Lumberyard, and the Wooden Wonder: the de Havilland Mosquito are all likely candidates.

It might be claimed that no aircraft had a more impressive combat record in such a short period of time than the Mosquito. It arrived in the war a year to the day after the Battle of Britain finished, but it did so with much more sophisticated technology and aerodynamics than the Spitfire. The Mosquito, one of the world’s first effective multirole combat aircraft, certainly flew as many different types of missions and did them as well as any other aircraft. The Tornado aspires to be its successor, and the F-35 should have the same fortune.

The Mosquito was a two-seater unarmed bomber capable of carrying a larger bombload further than the B-17. It was also a fighter-bomber with an eight-gun nose armament and a night fighter. It was the war’s most prolific photoreconnaissance plane. A courier who travels at a rapid rate. A weather reconnaissance aircraft. a torpedo bomber with carrier qualification (though too late to see combat). A heavy bomber’s pathfinder and target-marker. The most successful invader at very low altitudes in the conflict. A high-speed target tug and a multiengine trainer A decoy intended to fool the Luftwaffe into believing that three or four spoof-raid Mosquitos dumping chaff were a bomber stream of Lancasters.

Many other aircraft completed some of these missions, but none completed all of them. Mosquitos were produced in 33 distinct versions during WWII and seven more thereafter, at a period when everything else with a propeller was being relegated to reserve and training forces.

At the time, it seemed like such a bizarre concept: a bomber with no weapons. After all, this was the era of the Flying Fortress, with four-engine aluminum overcasts carrying tons of machine guns, ammunition, ammo cans and belts, complex turret units…and then there was the weight of the gunners themselves, dressed in heavy heated gear, helmets, and flak jackets, sucking oxygen from tanks that weighed significant amounts. All of this might add up to one-sixth of the empty weight of a heavy bomber, or three additional tons in the case of a B-17. There’s also the drag of blisters and turrets, gun barrels protruding through the slipstream, and waist windows that are wide open.

The de Havilland Mosquito was the anti-Fortress, a bomber designed for speed rather than weapons and offered to the Royal Air Force. Many people forget that the Mosquito was the first of its type, and the B-17 was the last in the series. Since then, bombers have never been fully defensively equipped. Curtis LeMay removed the guns from the B-29’s four remotely operated turrets, choosing to carry bombs and fuel rather than weapons rendered useless by air supremacy. The tail armament of B-52s used to have quad.50s and later a 20mm rotary cannon, however that station was decommissioned in 1991. Neither the Canberra nor the V-bombers of the Royal Air Force had a single gun. The F-117 stealth bomber, as well as the B-1 and B-2 bombers, did not. Guns on a bomber have been like tits on a boar since the day the Mosquito went nude.

The Mosquito was designed independently by De Havilland. Geoffrey de Havilland and his son, Geoffrey de Havilland, who became the Mosquito’s chief test pilot, had no interest in dealing with the government because their company had thrived in the 1920s and 1930s by focusing on the civil market, where planes were bought because they did the job, not because they met some blithering bureaucrat’s specifications.

Air Marshal Sir Wilfred Freeman, who is frequently referred to as “de Havilland’s buddy,” was also a supporter of the elder de Havilland. Freeman had led a squadron of de Havilland DH-4s during World War I and became a great admirer of the aircraft, which he definitely proved to be. The DH-4 was one of the finest single-engine bombers of the war, and it was still in service with the US Army Air Service in 1932. It was quicker than many fighters. When it came to aircraft, Freeman felt sure that the de Havillands understood what they were talking about. He lobbied so hard for the Mosquito that it earned the nickname “Freeman’s Folly” from its opponents. The Crown’s aircraft production czar, Lord Beaverbrook, ordered him to shut down early Mosquito production three times. Beaverbrook, however, never put anything in writing, so Freeman disregarded him.

The Miraculous Mosquito The DH-98 prototype is ready for its first flight at Salisbury Hall, where it was conceived and constructed, in November 1940. (From the National Archives)

Even still, de Havilland had a hard time persuading the Air Ministry that an unarmed timber bomber capable of outrunning any modern fighter was the solution to Bomber Command’s requirements. The apparent counter-argument to this too simplistic hypothesis was that the adversary will surely build quicker fighters. The British were well aware of Germany’s technical superiority, having seen the country’s achievements in grand prix car racing. When improved variants of the Fw-190 and the nitrous oxide-boosted Me-410 were operational, this was partially true, and it was completely accurate when the Me-262 twin-engine aircraft flew. However, no one foresaw the mid-1940s plateau of propeller effectiveness and compressibility issues, which would restrict conventional fighters to speeds approximately equal to the Mosquito’s, regardless of their horsepower. In 1940, the Mosquito was quick, and it remained so in 1945.

The Mosquito’s speed, however, was a somewhat exaggerated feature of the aircraft. When the prototype flew in November 1940, it was unquestionably quicker than current frontline fighters, and the Mosquito remained the world’s fastest operational aircraft for the next 212 years. But it’s worth remembering that no Mosquito has ever gone faster than that sleek lightweight (439 mph). The F4U Corsair, P-47 Thunderbolt, Hawker Typhoon, and, more importantly, the Focke Wulf Fw-190, which proved a particularly effective Mosquito opponent, were all being prepared or already in service when the Mosquito went into duty in September 1941. Late-model 190s had a speed advantage of up to 40 mph against Mosquito bombers. Mosquitos evaded assault by relying on altitude as much as sheer speed. If they were hit from above, they might save themselves by lowering the nose, navigating, and praying for clouds to shelter behind.

Because Hitler desired Schnellbombers, too few Me-262s were assigned to the air superiority role, which was fortunate for the British. We can thank the Mosquito for that. When a lone Mosquito flew a photorecon mission over Berlin in March 1943 and was pursued down by six Me-109s and Fw-190s, the Führer decided that by God, he needed a fleet of superfast light bombers, and the 262 grudgingly adopted a duty it was never designed for.

Another Mosquito enthusiast was Hermann Göring. He famously remarked, “I could fly as far as Glasgow in most of my planes in 1940, but not today!” “When I see the Mosquito, I become enraged. Envy makes me become green and yellow. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, put together a lovely wooden plane, which every piano manufacturer in the country is producing…. We have the nincompoops, and they have the geniuses.”

Berlin was a common Mosquito target because the aircraft had the range and weight to carry four 500-pound bombs at first, then up to a 2-ton blockbuster bomb, all while flying at 35,000 feet. In January 1943, a historic three-plane Mosquito attack on Berlin was planned to arrive just as Göring started a radio speech commemorating the Nazi party’s tenth anniversary at 11 a.m. As the show was postponed for later in the day, sounds of uncertainty could be heard in the background. More Mosquitos came at 4 p.m. to disrupt another radio address, this time by Joseph Goebbels.

The Miraculous Mosquito On October 31, 1944, Mosquito FB Mk. IVs from No. 140 Wing, No. 2 Group, attack the Gestapo headquarters in Jutland, Denmark. (IWM C 4762) (IWM C 4762) (IWM C 4762)

Despite the fact that Mosquitos performed hundreds of regular bombing missions, their most well-known exploits were low-altitude, precise hit-and-run attacks, which the British media exploited to the greatest extent possible. (To capture the action, the RAF deployed special camera aircraft along on some of the missions.) They were dubbed “nuisance raids” in typical British euphemism. A four-aircraft attack on Gestapo headquarters in Oslo; a raid on the prison in Amiens that blew the walls down, freeing 258 French Resistance fighters; six Mosquitos bombing an art gallery in The Hague that was packed with Gestapo records; and raids on Gestapo HQ in the heart of both Jutland and Copenhagen. (The press liked the fact that the Jutland raiders went in so low that one crew spotted a Danish farmer saluting as they flew past, and that the bombers flew along boulevards and banked into side streets during the Copenhagen attack.) Although the damage was often little and human casualties were high—27 nuns and 87 children were murdered at a Catholic school during the Copenhagen raid—the impact on public morale was enormous. The Germans were able to flee but not conceal. The Wooden Wonder posed a threat to everyone.

And why was it made of wood in the first place? Because spruce, birch plywood, and Ecuadorean balsa weren’t critical materials and were readily available. Because furniture manufacturers, cabinetmakers, luxury-auto coachbuilders, and piano makers could all be converted into subcontractors in a matter of weeks. Because wood, when coated with a tiny layer of doped fabric, creates a wonderfully smooth, drag-reducing surface that is devoid of rivets and seams. Battle damage may also be readily healed on the battlefield.

General Hap Arnold of the United States Army Air Forces delivered a full set of Mosquito designs to the United States in April 1940, which were submitted to five American aircraft manufacturers for feedback. “This aircraft has compromised serviceability, structural strength, ease of manufacturing, and flying characteristics in an effort to utilize construction material that is not suited for the production of efficient airplanes,” Beechcraft said. They couldn’t have gotten it much more wrong than Beech.

Wood’s main benefit is that it’s simple to deal with and has been shaped and hammered by craftsmen for millennia. It’s often believed that another advantage of wood was that it decreased a Mosquito’s radar signal, although it doesn’t seem to have been a problem with the short-range Luftwaffe night-fighter radar in use during the war. Because of the radar reflectivity of the large Merlin engines and their enormous prop discs, a number of Mosquitos fell to He-219s and Me-410s in particular.

The Miraculous Mosquito One of the places where the RAF’s wooden Mosquito fighter bomber is made is at the Walter Lawrence & Sons joinery works in Sawbridge, Hertfordshire. (HistoryNet Archives)

Wood, like the carbon/graphite-fiber materials used to construct most of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is a composite, and it possesses the same strength, suppleness, and light weight properties. Both wood and contemporary composites are made up of microscopic fibers suspended in a cellulose or polymer carrier—ingredients that are weak on their own but form an incredibly strong matrix when combined.

Composites are now joined using heat and pressure, while wood still has to be glued. Casein glues, which are precisely what you can purchase today in any hardware store under the name “woodworker’s glue,” were used to construct early Mosquitos. Casein glues are milk byproducts (thus the famous cattle-head emblem on the most popular brand, Elmer’s), and they offer food for microbes, especially when the atmosphere is damp and warm, as it was when the first Mosquitos were delivered to Southeast Asia. Some Mosquito glues became cheesy in the Pacific theater, and upper wing skins debonded from the main spar.

The answer was two-part urea-formaldehyde glue, which de Havilland started employing in the spring of 1943. On one hardwood surface, urea glue was applied, while the formaldehyde catalyst was brushed on the other. When the two were clamped together, a watertight connection was created, which was stronger than the wood itself in certain places thanks to the simple pressure of small brass brads.

Traditional maritime varnishes were used to cover mosquitos inside, but they were not as as waterproof as contemporary polyurethane coatings. So there were instances of Mosquito structural failures due by simple wood rot, some of which occurred in de Havilland of Canada-built aircraft, which were occasionally discovered to have inferior craftsmanship and quality-control standards. Australia produced a few Mosquitos (a total of 212), but it had even more difficulties, having just a small cadre of aviation engineers and technicians to rely on. The first 50 Mosquito wings produced in Australia were poorly glued and had to be replaced.

The Mosquito was a difficult aircraft to pilot. It was “a somewhat nervous thoroughbred which could accomplish amazing feats in the hands of the brave and competent…but would sometimes dish out a kick or a bite,” according to combat aviation historian Bill Sweetman in his book Mosquito. It had a high power-to-weight ratio and wing loading, and its Vmc—the speed required to ensure rudder efficiency with one engine feathered and the other operating at full power—was an eye-watering 172 mph or more, depending on load, possibly the highest of any WWII twin. The Vmc of the much-maligned B-26 Marauder was about 160 mph.

The Miraculous Mosquito On a modified night bomber of No. 692 Squadron, armorers load a 4,000-pound HC “cookie” bomb. The Squadron was part of the No. 8 (PFF) Group’s Light Night Striking Force, which specialized in high-speed night attacks against Germany. (IWM

Between liftoff and Vmc, there existed a significant no-man’s-land in which an engine failure was generally deadly. To prevent the aircraft from rolling below Vmc, power on the good engine had to be rapidly delayed, which meant a laden Mosquito could no longer maintain altitude. (As cynics have pointed out, the only reason a piston twin has two engines is so the good one can get you to the accident site.) Mosquito pilots learned to disregard typical liftoff speed when their mounts were fully fueled up and carrying a 4,000-pound bomb, instead keeping the aircraft on the runway no matter how long it was and pulling up when they were only 200 yards or so from the end.

Most multiengine aircraft don’t have the torque-roll/P-factor/slipstream-effect yaw of a strong single on takeoff, but the Mosquito’s engines required to be handled with care. The long, powerful outthrust engines had a significant impact on yaw. Leading with the left engine and carefully increasing the throttles helped, but Mosquitos lacked locking tailwheels to maintain a heading throughout the takeoff roll. To catch takeoff swings, a pilot had to employ differential braking, and a Mosquito’s pneumatic brakes were operated by the rudder pedals but regulated by air pressure controlled through a bicycle-brake-like lever on the control column, in true British manner. This isn’t a natural occurrence.

The Miraculous Mosquito The Mosquito was a powerful night fighter with a radar in its bulbous nose. (ATP 13735B, IWM)

Mosquito pilots of the Royal Air Force were usually chosen for their airmanship and expertise, and they handled their Mosquitos with exceptional skill. The United States Air Forces attempted to fly 40 Mosquitos designated F-8 photoreconnaissance and meteorological aircraft, but many of them crashed, some on the pilots’ first Mosquito missions. (To be fair, many of the accidents were caused by mechanical issues.)

The F-8 program was a flop, and it was terminated in September 1944. It was championed by FDR’s son, Lt. Col. Elliott Roosevelt, a low-time private pilot who had been barred from flying military aircraft. He was a navigator who liked the Mosquito because it let him to fly as part of a crew on missions over North Africa and the Mediterranean, something his unit’s Spitfires and F-4s—photorecon P-38s—couldn’t. Others in the Twelfth Air Force weren’t so optimistic, writing, “The Mosquito with low- and medium-altitude engines is worthless for our objectives.” Its usefulness with the Merlin 61 engine has yet to be proven.”

As part of the PR program, Wright Field evaluated a Mosquito Mk. VII and determined that it was “unstable in ascent at speed-of-best-climb.” It was tail-heavy and longitudinally unstable during landing approach, particularly with full fuselage tanks and a center of gravity near the aft limit, and landing in this situation proved risky for novice pilots.” “This aircraft is NOT intended for the same manoeuvres as a single-engine fighter,” the Pilot’s Flight Operating Instructions said, “and care must be given not to impose excessive strains by harsh use of elevators in drawing out of dives or in high-speed turns.” Spinning for the sake of spinning is not allowed. At high speeds, forceful rudder usage and reversal at extreme yaw angles should be avoided…. When the flaps are dropped, the tail heaviness and loss of elevator control is VERY MARKED……”

The Miraculous Mosquito The Americans bought several Mosquitos to use as quick photoreconnaissance planes. He was a member of the 25th Bomb Group. (FRE 5443 IWM)

The Mosquito’s control forces were exceptionally low, and they remained so even at high speeds. Many other fast planes included self-limiting mechanisms that made it difficult for a clumsy pilot to rip the wings or tail off at high speeds. The Mosquito, on the other hand, is a different story.

The Mosquito tree had three main branches: bombers, fighters, and photoreconnaissance aircraft. Night fighters with radar and bombers modified to carry 2-ton blockbusters were among the numerous variations. Most aircraft carried four.303 machine guns in the nose and four 20mm cannons beneath the cockpit floor, with their receivers and ammunition-feed systems extending back into the bomb bay. Despite pilots’ claims that bomber yokes made the aircraft more maneuverable, Fighter Command demanded that its Mosquitos be fitted with sticks rather than bomber yokes. The fighters may also be distinguished by their flat windscreens, which are more suited for gunsights than the bombers’ more aerodynamic vee screens.

Sea Mosquitos were constructed, however only 50 were built, and the mark didn’t start production until August 1946. Eric “Winkle” Brown, a well-known British test pilot, made the initial carrier landing attempts, which were the first-ever multiengine aircraft carrier landings. Many believed that the prototype Sea Mosquito’s tail would be ripped off by the stress of being trapped, but the fuselage had been adequately reinforced. Brown knew he was flying on the rear side of the power curve, so getting the Mosquito slow enough to make a decent carrier approach was a much greater risk. The Mosquito had a nasty power-on stall that rapidly spun out of control. Brown subsequently wrote, “It was going to be a death if we went low and sluggish on the approach,” but he was able to hang the aircraft on its propellers and arrive to the deck at just under 100 mph (a typical Mosquito approach was flown at 150 mph). Brown was courageous, but the landing signal officer on the Indefatigable was even braver. “Paddles” may be seen standing on the centerline of the carrier deck, just forward of the arresting cables, in photos from the initial landing. It was the only way Brown could observe the LSO’s signals without the left engine nacelle blocking his view. Paddles presumably indicated “cut” and bolted.

The Miraculous Mosquito The “Sea Mosquito” was equipped with folding wings and a torpedo. (Source: BAE Systems)

The Molins gun, a 57mm cannon, was the largest armament ever installed on a Mosquito. Molins, a previously Cuban firm that had grown to become the world’s biggest producer of cigarette-making and -packaging machinery, developed and constructed a 25-round, rapid-fire ammunition feed for it. Although the 75mm gun installed on hardnose B-25G and H Mitchells was clearly bigger, it had to be manually reloaded by the bomber’s navigator, resulting in a rate of fire approximately one-sixth that of the Molins gun. Many questioned whether the Mosquito’s construction could survive the Molins’ recoil, but de Havilland required just one day to prove them wrong—the time it took the factory to cut the nose off a crashed Mosquito, install the 12-foot-long cannon, and test-fire it. The barrel recoiled 18 inches and spat a 15 to 20-foot-long gout of flame, but the wooden airframe was flexible enough to absorb the impact.

The Molins-carrying mosquitos were dubbed “Tsetses,” after the deadly African insect. Sub-hunting in the Bay of Biscay was their speciality. The harbor was so shallow that the German submarines had to sprint across while surfacing, and Tsetse ate up so many of them that the submarines could only go at night. Tsetse flies also claimed the lives of a number of Luftwaffe planes, and the impact of a 57mm bullet on a Ju-88, for example, was catastrophic.

The Highball, a Mosquito-sized replica of Barnes Wallis’ famed Dambuster bouncing bomb, was another unique weapon. It was created to combat the German battleship Tirpitz, which was concealed in a Norwegian fjord. The Highball was to be powered by a ram-air turbine in flight—two were carried in each Mosquito’s open bomb bay—in what may have been one of the earliest applications of a RAT. Highballs would be thrown from a low height, bouncing off the torpedo netting protecting Tirpitz before crawling down the hull and exploding deep below the waterline.

Because Lancaster bombers carrying 6-ton Tallboy bombs arrived earlier at Tirpitz, the Highball aircraft and their armaments were sent to Australia to fight the Japanese. Unfortunately, lengthy debates over how the British carrier force should collaborate with the Americans in charge of the Pacific War left the Highballs stranded until the war’s conclusion, when they were destroyed as “secret weapons.”

The Nationalist Chinese Air Force, which purchased between 180 and 205 surplus Mosquitos from Canada after WWII, was the largest postwar user of surplus Mosquitos. However, the Chinese pilots quickly wrote them off, killing 60 of their Mosquitos. By securing the landing gear and adding a network of bracing tubes between the struts and the fuselage, one was converted into a non-flying taxi-trainer, but the Chinese managed to crash it as well.

The Miraculous Mosquito Mosquitos were used by the Israeli Air Force to conduct photoreconnaissance missions. (Tony Clarke/David Whiworth Collection)

Because the Israeli Air Force’s acquisition procedures in the late 1940s and early 1950s were so clandestine, it’s difficult to say how many Mosquitos they possessed, although they may have had as many as 300. Those that flew served primarily as photorecon aircraft, enabling Israel to spy on its Arab neighbors without restriction. Despite the fact that the Arab air forces were re-equipping with MiG-15s and other aircraft, no IAF Mosquitos were ever shot down, despite repeated intercept efforts. The Mosquito’s combat career came to an end in 1956, during the Suez Crisis.

There were exactly 7,781 Mosquitos constructed, with the final one delivered on November 15, 1950; 6,710 were delivered during WWII. By many months of RAF service, the Mosquito outlasted its intended replacement, the wood-and-aluminum de Havilland Hornet. A new, bigger, Merlin-powered Mosquito Series 2 aircraft was planned but never constructed, and the concepted “Super Mosquito” was also doomed. The Super Mosquito was supposed to be powered by 24-cylinder Napier Sabre engines, with a three-person crew, an 8,000-pound bombload, and a top speed of 430 miles per hour.

The English Electric Canberra, a gunless 580-mph jet intended to fly fast and high enough to escape any pursuers, eventually replaced the Mosquito in 1951. Does this ring a bell?

Contributing editor Stephan Wilkinson suggests the following books for additional reading: Mosquito, by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J. F. Bowyer; Graham M. Simons’ Mosquito: The Original Multi-Role Combat Aircraft; and Bill Sweetman and Rikyu Watanabe’s Mosquito.

This article was first published in the March 2015 edition of Aviation History. Make sure you don’t miss an issue by subscribing now!

In 1879, Alexander Skutch was a well-to-do doctor in the small town of Calamba, in Southern Luzon in the Philippines. He was well-known and respected by the locals; the only doctor in town, and well liked by everyone. He was also well known in the wider region, and well respected by everyone in the region.. Read more about de havilland mosquito cockpit and let us know what you think.

The Mosquito was a British fighter aircraft that served in World War II. It was a low-wing monoplane with a single engine and retractable landing gear."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Was the Mosquito faster than the Spitfire?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"

The Mosquito is faster than the Spitfire, but not by much."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is miraculous Mosquito hack?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" Mosquito is a bot that uses the Discord API to find and join your discord server. It will then spam you with messages, which can be annoying."}}]}

Frequently Asked Questions

Was the Mosquito a good aircraft?

The Mosquito was a British fighter aircraft that served in World War II. It was a low-wing monoplane with a single engine and retractable landing gear.

Was the Mosquito faster than the Spitfire?

The Mosquito is faster than the Spitfire, but not by much.

What is miraculous Mosquito hack?

Mosquito is a bot that uses the Discord API to find and join your discord server. It will then spam you with messages, which can be annoying.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • de havilland mosquito cockpit
  • mosquito plane for sale
  • havilland mosquito facts
  • de havilland mosquito construction
  • de havilland mosquito for sale
You May Also Like

Why the Royal Thai Air Force Both Fought and Supported America During World War II

The Royal Thai Air Force was a part of the United States…

Soviet POWs in Germany Remain Overlooked

The story of the Soviet POWs in Germany is a well-known one.…

Eddie Van Halen |

Eddie Van Halen was born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, in the Netherlands.…

Looking at the Korean War, 71 Years On

Today is the 71st anniversary of the Korean War, which raged for…