Mosquito – The Wooden Wonder

From youtube

The de Havilland Mosquito was a British combat aircraft that excelled in versatility during the Second World War. It was known affectionately as the “Mossie” to its crews and was also nicknamed “The Wooden Wonder” or “The Timber Terror” as the bulk of the aircraft was made of laminated plywood. It saw service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and many other air forces in the European theatre, the Pacific theatre of Operations and the Mediterranean Theatre, as well as during the postwar period.

A few other videos well worth watching

And the classic quote from Herr Goering

In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked

Read more

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Mosquito”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Mosquito_operational_history”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-air-support/ww2-allied/mosquito.htm”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/mosquito.html”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/dehavillandmosquito.cfm”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.airforce.gov.au/raafmuseum/exhibitions/restoration/dh_98.htm”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.mosquitorestoration.com/”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
March 10, 2014 10:26 pm

Stickin out as we say in Ulster speak, magnifique for present domicile. Thanks for the great links.

Dgos
Dgos
March 10, 2014 10:41 pm
DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 10, 2014 10:57 pm

Wooden wonder my arse!
They can claim it was the best multi-role fighter of the war all they want but times have moved on. Just because they managed to produce an aircraft during a time of war and shortages that had the speed and agility of a fighter with the capability of dropping bombs in precision low level bombing runs and was adapted for a host of other roles which it equally excelled, does not make it a wonder.

I bet if the designers and engineers got a look at the F35 program they would hang their heads in shame. (and rightfully so IMHO)

Ace Rimmer
March 10, 2014 10:59 pm

Didn’t unarmed BOAC Mozzies fetch and deliver much needed ball bearings from Switzerland?

Fantastic aircraft, I always liked the radiators that were embedded in the wing roots to cut down on drag…

Ace Rimmer
March 10, 2014 11:37 pm

A bit harsh DN!? If you look at the other twin-engined bombers the UK had at the time like the Whitley and the Blenheim, plus in comparison to the Axis Me 110, it was definitely a ‘wonder’ given its superior performance.

Richard
Richard
March 11, 2014 6:07 am

They sound better in real life.

Guthy
Guthy
March 11, 2014 9:51 am

ACE A Bit harsh on DN old chap, and the down votes DN’s tongue it seems was definitely firmly in cheek :).

and the Mozzie….God’s own aircraft.

a
a
March 11, 2014 9:57 am

Didn’t unarmed BOAC Mozzies fetch and deliver much needed ball bearings from Switzerland?

Sweden, I think? Maybe Switzerland as well. They certainly fetched and delivered much-needed atomic scientists from Sweden – Niels Bohr, the father of modern nuclear physics, who escaped there from Denmark in 1942. The problem was that Bohr’s mighty Nobel-calibre brain was contained in a skull far larger than that of the average RAF officer, and so his flight helmet didn’t fit properly with the earphones over the ears where they ought to be, but sat on top of his head like a yarmulke or Stan Laurel’s bowler hat, and so when the pilot said “OK, Professor Bohr, we’re climbing to 28,000 feet, better put your oxygen mask on” Bohr didn’t hear him, didn’t put his mask on, contracted hypoxia and passed out. Fortunately the pilot realised that he hadn’t heard much ground-breaking atomic physics chat from the passenger compartment for a few minutes and dived back down again, allowing Bohr to regain consciousness.

dave haine
dave haine
March 11, 2014 10:30 am

Absolutely innovative aeroplane. Reading about the construction of made me realise how much of the techniques used today started in that aeroplane-

Multi-layered skin built up on jigs, with all internal fitting out being done before the shells were joined.

The spars built up using laminated layers, a process now known as engineered wood trusses, and only now being used in house building.

….The list goes on.

Beno
Beno
March 11, 2014 4:15 pm

Garrr Sorry DN this thing is driving me mad
I strongly wanted to +1 you but the Electric Internet Wonder -1’d you and wont give it me back.

Very amusing and strongly agree.

+1 many

Beno

monkey
monkey
March 11, 2014 4:21 pm

Haven’t read all the many links yet , but didn’t the Mosquito have a (for those days ) a low radar signature due to its wooden contraction and internal weapons stowage. I cant see it being the shape/form of the design at all as it looks pretty conventional for the time compared some of the x-planes under development around the world at the time . Is Goering’s comments something to take note of today about knocking the components up in piano factories to take note of for today ? If we needed to get a lot of simple say UCAV platforms into the sky (say as simple weapons carriers/resupply drones for use by Typhoons/AWACS etc to order launches from) this approach of using say boat builders or other industries familiar with simple composite (or dare I say it , wooden construction as another commentator pointed out is being used more and more in construction) wouldn’t it be useful to have a proven design worked up and tested . Not for actual series production in peacetime (when were we last not at war somewhere?) but on a pre planned basis ready to go if the REDS start coming over the hill shooting everything out of the sky.

WiseApe
March 11, 2014 7:10 pm

Just bloody marvellous. Gave rise to the post-war Hornet and Sea Hornet:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Hornet

as
as
March 11, 2014 7:31 pm

The Mosquito and Hornet were both great aircraft as was the Canberra that replaced them.
The RAF could do with a multi roll airframe just like these three. Maybe something with twin turboprops.
To give it the range and endurance to stay on station. There is a real capability gap currently.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
March 13, 2014 1:07 pm

Beautiful looking aircraft but not so beloved or effective in hot or tropical climates where they suffered from serious structural failure through delamination of the plywood wings that killed a number of aircrew on the type in RAAF service.

Hydraulics also did not cope with the tropics too well. Mid-air break-ups caused the type to be grounded on a number of occasions.

http://www.211squadron.org/de_havilland_mosquito.html
http://www.ozatwar.com/ozcrashes/nsw19.htm

Bluenose
Bluenose
March 13, 2014 2:38 pm

@ Monkey,

marginally; there was enough metal in the thing for it to have a fairly normal RCS for the time but high altitude / high cruising speed meant they were difficult to intercept

@ Oscar Zulu,

may have been one of the reasons that the Beau was used more frequently outside of the ETO

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 13, 2014 2:50 pm

Have you been to the Mosquito Museum

Between South Mimms M25/A1 Junction) And London Colney (St Albans) Just inside the M25.

Link http://www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk/

last went when my 24 year old was 8 or 9. They let him sit in the Mosquito. If Airfix is your thing they had an extensive collection – not open unless the enthusiasts are in.

WiseApe
March 13, 2014 5:34 pm

I read in Hastings’ “Bomber Command” that the Germans rated the Mosquitoes so highly that if one of their nightfighters managed to shoot one down, they were allowed to count it as two victories.

Bluenose
Bluenose
March 13, 2014 5:47 pm

@ WiseApe,

they formed a new formation – JG50 – with the primary task of intercepting them, and put Maj. Herman Graf (highests scoring pilot at the time) in charge. However, it did not prove economical and the unit was disbanded later in 1943 after negligable success.

WiseApe
March 13, 2014 5:59 pm

@Bluenose – Thanks for that, I’ve just googled them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jagdgeschwader_50

Kibbitz Van Ogle
Kibbitz Van Ogle
March 14, 2014 11:08 am

About MOSQUITO structural failures:

With modern epoxies this construction-technology would be much more reliable.
Epoxy-based wooden laminated hulls have been around for near 40 years in all sorts of climates, with these boat living with a range of conditions of either full-time immersion, or part-year in and part-year out of the water, in freezing or tropical conditions.

Furthermore, certain species of wood-fibers are known to have superior structural properties, exceeding many man-made ones in terms of cycles before failure due to their ‘pre-stressed’ growth under constant structural stresses from wind- and snow-loads.

Together with a skin of lighter fiberglass-cloth as first-line-of-defense surface against abrasion from people fingering it , weather, flying creatures, such a flying structure would offer certain lower-cost and lower-signature options.

And sandwich-options abound for stiff and light structures.

With inspection access-ports to key structural areas for fiber-optic and other probing instruments, early detection of gradually degrading structures can be tracked and thus likely stopped and reversed.

Thus, e.g. building low-cost ‘swarms’ of low-signature armed ‘suicide’ drones would not be inconceivable.
Quite apart from piloted devices like MOSQUITO.

Alas, ‘vegetable-matter’ gets frowned-upon in certain ‘techno’-circles – often based on rank ignorance, the urge to appear ‘cutting-edge’ when less expensive options would do, with that ‘habit’ for too long supported by seemingly inexhaustible budgets. Which suggests that wood may be reconsidered for a range of flying applications.

Bombhead
Bombhead
March 14, 2014 11:13 am

Wooden composite – what goes around comes around – http://www.gizmag.com/cellulose-nanocrystals-stronger-carbon-fiber-kevlar/23959/

a
a
March 14, 2014 11:34 am

And the last RAF combat aircraft to use plywood as a structural material, the Canberra, was in service until… 2006. An aircraft originally designed in response to a requirement to bomb Nazi Germany!

a
a
March 14, 2014 2:26 pm

Epoxy-based wooden laminated hulls have been around for near 40 years in all sorts of climates, with these boat living with a range of conditions of either full-time immersion, or part-year in and part-year out of the water, in freezing or tropical conditions.</i.

No need for epoxy either. The Victory was, what, 40 years old at Trafalgar?

Ant
Ant
March 14, 2014 9:26 pm

Re: Wooden composite and cellulose nanocrystals

Would the Frowning Technocircles be happy if they could print them?

Kibbitz Van Ogle
Kibbitz Van Ogle
March 15, 2014 2:12 pm

Wood is too complex to print…

My type of ‘additive manufacturing’ is to watch it happen one cell at a time, over time, until the best trees can be selectively harvested and processed into a rich range of uses.
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And there is massive numbers of trees, and massive numbers of species to sample, test, and leverage for best applications. Composite-options near endless – beginning with the Mossie approach and extending into ….fatigue by scientists.

A missile patrol boat build of a epoxy/plywood/foam/fiberglass composite can be built to be very hard to sink. And fires can be put out with seawater…

monkey
monkey
March 15, 2014 5:25 pm

@Kibbitz Van Ogle
The German Kreigsmarine’s built hundreds of all wooden fast patrol boats of around 90 tonnes displacement from the 1930’s until the end of WW2. These proved very tough and serviceable operating from the Artic ocean down through the North Sea to the coast of North Africa (in the service of the Spanish Navy under Franco) .They operated up until the 1960’s (in Spanish service) giving an idea just how tough and serviceable the E-Boats were.
Surely modern glues, paints and wood preservatives would provide even more durability. Using a wood/foam/glass fibre construction could provide a serviceable vessel capable of a limp home option even when holed.
Also designing an all wood medium altitude drone of inherently very stable in flight design with very simple robotic programing take off, reach patrol zone and then return. As a weapons carrier for F22/F35/Typoon/AWACS/ to call upon as they see fit preserving their own on board weapons for when they are directly threatened.