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  • de Havilland Mosquito

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    Description

    The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito is a British twin-engined, shoulder-winged multirole combat aircraft, introduced during the Second World War.

    General Information

    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.The crew of two, pilot and navigator, sat side by side. A single passenger could ride in the aircraft's bomb bay when necessary.

     

    The de Havilland DH 98 Mosquito was perhaps the greatest all-round combat aircraft of World War II. The "Mossie" was originally designed as a fast, unarmed, light bomber. However, when flying tests commenced on 25 November 1940, this "wooden wonder" became the world's fastest operational aircraft, with a top speed of almost 400 mph. It also out-manoeuvred most fighters, and could carry out upward rolls from ground level with one engine feathered. With such an outstanding potential, the Mosquito was developed to carry out practically every offensive task.

     

    Altogether, 7,781 Mosquitoes were built and 27 different versions were produced as fighter-bombers, photo-reconnaissance, low- and high-level day and night bombers, mine-layers, pathfinders and long-range day and night fighters. Mosquitoes also served with the Royal Navy (Sea Mosquito), Royal Canadian Air Force, United States Army Air Force, and RAAF Nos 456 and 464 Squadrons, which operated RAF-serialled fighter and bomber versions.

     

    In 1942, the Australian de Havilland factory at Bankstown commenced production of a fighter-bomber Mosquito, the DHA 98 FB Mk 40. Initial delays were caused by the unavailability of Canadian birchwood, and Australian coachwood had to be substituted. The first Australian Mosquito was delivered on 23 July 1943, and accepted by the RAAF on 5 March 1944. The FB Mk 40 was equivalent to the RAF FB Mk VI (the RAF retained Roman numerals until 1948) and, although 212 were built at Bankstown (A52-1/212), only 209 served with the RAAF because A52-12, 18 and 24 crashed before acceptance. Six of the FB Mk 40s were converted for photo-reconnaissance as PR Mk 40s, and they retained their original serials: A52-2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 26. These aircraft operated so effectively that a further 28 FB Mk 40s were converted to PR Mk 41s and renumbered A52-300/327 (ex A52-90, 192/211, 41, 45, 49, 62, 64, 83, 36 respectively).

     

    For more information on the development, operational history and variants, click here, and its service in the RAAF click here.

     

     

    DH.98 Mosquito NS508.jpg

    DH.98 Mosquito RR299.jpg

    DH.98 Mosquito touchdown.jpg

    DH.98 Mosquito Y-EG air to air.jpg

    Specifications

    Seats:
    2
    Length:
    12.45 m (40 ft 6 in)
    Wingspan:
    16.51 m (54 ft 2 in)
    Height:
    4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)
    Wing Area:
    454 sq ft (42.2 sq m)
    Wing Loading:
    39.9 lb/sq ft (195 kg/sq m)
    Empty Weight:
    6506 kg (14 344 lb)
    MTOW:
    Loaded 10 096 kg (22 258 lb)
    Powerplant:
    Two 1460 hp Packard Merlin 31s or Merlin 33s.
    Vne:
    Max speed 611 km/h (330 kt)
    Cruise Speed:
    410 km/h (221 kt)
    Range:
    1802 km (973 nm)
    Rate of Climb:
    Initial climb 731 m (2400ft)/min
    Service Ceiling:
    33,000 ft (10 058 m)

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    Recommended Comments

    Ceratopetalum apetalum, the coachwood, scented satinwood or tarwood, is a medium-sized hardwood tree, straight-growing with smooth, fragrant, greyish bark. It is native to eastern Australia in the central and northern coastal rainforests of New South Wales and southern Queensland, where is often found on poorer quality soils in gullies and creeks and often occurs in almost pure stands.

     

    Its timber is light and easily worked. It is used for flooring, furniture and cabinetwork, interior fittings, turnery, gun stocks, wood carving, veneers as well as spars and masts for boats. Courtroom number three of The High Court of Australia is beautifully and completely furnished with coachwood timber.

     

    The Genus Ceratopetalum includes  C. gummiferum, the New South Wales Christmas bush. (I love that bloody tree.)

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    Coachwood, "Light and easily worked". Sounds ideal for aircraft building. Strength would be the other must have especially for the framework. AFAIK there are about 30 left world wide and only 4 in flying condition, 3 of which were immaculately restored by Avspecs at Ardmore NZ for American Billionaires. I guess they had no problem sourcing Canadian Birchwood.

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    Well, you learn something new every day. I've never heard of coachwood timber, I thought it was generic description of timber used in the coach-building industry.

    I was unaware that the sandwich ply construction style of the Mosquito was so advanced for its time.

     

    https://www.airforce.gov.au/sites/default/files/minisite/static/7522/RAAFmuseum/exhibitions/restoration/dh_98.htm

    Edited by onetrack
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    That article says that resorcinol glue was introduced in 1943 so from the 1940 models till 1943 they were probably using casein glue. Casein is the protein in cows milk and would have been readily available. Apparently it fell out of favour as it was susceptible to  attack by bacteria so they would have been pleased to get resorcinol, a good long lasting glue that was water and UV resistant

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    Most of the Coachwood was sourced in North Queensland by forester Ian Gillison, who worked for the Commonwealth Foresty Bureau in Mackay. His sons now live in Yungaburra and near Albury. Many wooden propellors used in WW2 planes were made of North Queensland rainforest timbers. The Venables sawmill in Cairns handled a lot of the timber. My father flew Mosquitoes in 85 Squadron and mostly in night fighters. Also late in the war dropped propaganda pamphlets over France and Italy to demoralise German troops. Very high casualty rate, of the 70 guys he started with only six were left at the end of the war.

     

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    7 hours ago, kgwilson said:

     ........3 of which were immaculately restored by Avspecs at Ardmore NZ for American Billionaires.

    KGWilson, I believe (at least) one of those was an all new airframe build, since the airframe of the original donor aircraft was too far gone. Which meant they had to make moulds for the fuselage.

    If they now own the moulds, they must be uniquely placed for further rebuilds.

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    There is a photo of the fuselage of the first one received in 2004 on the Avspecs website & it is almost unrecognisable. I imagine they just removed all the fittings & completely built a brand new airframe & wings. The photos they have of the new wings and fuselage show impeccable workmanship which is reflected in the videos of the finished product.

     

    There is another Mossie that has recently been found in a shed in Mapua near Nelson. The old bloke, John Smith died 6 months ago and he was an avid collector of old military aircraft. He had a P51, Tiger Moth, Vampire, 2 x P40s as well as multiple bits of many different aircraft. The Mossie looks in pretty good nick & is going to be restored and displayed at Omaka as far as I know. It looks like it would easily be able to be restored to flying condition though. Details are HERE

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    Casein-based glues, formulated from casein, water, hydrated lime and sodium hydroxide were popular for woodworking, including for aircraft, as late as the de Havilland Albatross airliner. The de Havilland DH.91 Albatross was a four-engine British transport aircraft in the 1930s. A total of seven aircraft were built in 1938–39.

     

    Albatross 1938 prototype.jpg

     

    The casein glue, being made from a naturally occurring protein, is subject to microbial attack, which would destroy its ability to keep things stuck together. Also it is water soluble. That's probably why they had trouble with aircraft in the Tropics.. I believe that many mid-air break ups of Tiger Moths were a result of the glue failing.

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    I never heard of mid air break ups with Tiger moths  and a few later failures were due to fittings not made of wood.  They have SOLID wood spars. The woodwork teacher I had at Newcastle Tech College Claude Lamb if I recall correctly built parts for the mosquitoes.  ALL the Enfield 303's built under licence at Lithgow NSW used coachwood for the rifles woodwork.  Its medium weight quite strong and doesn't crack or split. The Wacket trainer and a few Percivals Miles Gemini's, monospars etc were withdrawn in the 50s due Casein glue deterioration in Laminated (built up) wood spars.

      PVA and animal glue are not water resistant and not used. Casein may have had susceptibility to mould and bacterial attack. Mosquitoes deteriorated in the tropics and  a few failed  in flight.. I suspect none over say 30 years would be flyable safely. Maybe with modern glues and good care?. There's U tube records of the inflight NZ built mozzie. It's like being inside a soundbox and the out of synch motors (when they are) are just dreadful. Nev

     

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    The effectiveness of glues of all types has improved significantly in the past 25 years or so, just like most other chemical based products. I wonder if anyone nowadays would consider using Resorcinol in light of the wide variety of epoxy glues now available.

     

    One thing that Resorcinol has in its favour is that it is not gap-filling. That means that things have to be clamped firmly together during the curing process. That can be a PITA in tight corners. I wonder if the expanding polyethylene glues would make as strong a bond.

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    I have never encountered anything like the strength of the wood glue formerly sold by Spotlight, branded "Vise". It's a foaming, gap-filling, brown glue, that contained iso-cyanate compounds.

    You made sure you didn't get it on your fingers, because it stained them like a dye. However, it seems to have disappeared off the market, I can no longer find it at Spotlight, nor anywhere else.

    Edited by onetrack
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    In about 2015 I viewed a new wing being constructed at Avspecs for a Mosquito and was greatly impressed by the quality of craftsmanship displayed by the woodcraftsman. They are a quality outfit, any wonder their work is sought after.

     

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    Avspecs were ground running a newly completed Mosquito but due to-the large group of enthusiasts they deferred test flying as the US sponsor was promised to see the first flight. Rightly so but a number of people flew from Aus on the promise of seeing it fly. Beautiful sounds which I later heard again in the air.

     

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