Major engineering award presented to the first de Havilland Mosquito

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:27 29 April 2018

The prototype de Havilland DH98 Mosquito W4050, designed at the company's satellite design office at Salisbury Hall and built in an adjoining unit in 1940. It is one of three Mosquitos on display at the museum along with other iconic DH aircraft. [Picture: DHAM]

The prototype de Havilland DH98 Mosquito W4050, designed at the company's satellite design office at Salisbury Hall and built in an adjoining unit in 1940. It is one of three Mosquitos on display at the museum along with other iconic DH aircraft. [Picture: DHAM]

De Havilland Aircraft Museum

Nearly eight decades after it was built, the first prototype of the iconic de Havilland Mosquito has been awarded a major accolade.

Charles Clarke, left, unveils the Engineering Heritage Award in front of the pioneering de Havilland Mosquito, with Alan Brackley. [Picture: DHAM]Charles Clarke, left, unveils the Engineering Heritage Award in front of the pioneering de Havilland Mosquito, with Alan Brackley. [Picture: DHAM]

The prototype of the Second World War all-wood multi-role aircraft received the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ prestigious Engineering Heritage Award on Easter Sunday.

The inscribed plaque was presented to the prototype, W4050, at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum at Salisbury Hall in London Colney.

This is where the aircraft was both designed and built in 1940.

The Mosquito was designed in secret at Salisbury Hall during the war, just a few miles from de Havilland’s main factory in Hatfield.

Unveiling the plaque, Charles Clarke, liaison officer for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), said it was the unique concept, design, technical aspects, foresight in using non-strategic materials, and pioneering techniques that led to the composite method of construction of aircraft in use in the industry today that merited the award.

Mr Clarke said: “The Mosquito is a truly remarkable aircraft, a very splendid example of inspired engineering that needs to be celebrated.”

He also praised the “wonderful restoration work” by the de Havilland museum’s volunteers.

Museum chairman Alan Brackley told the audience that it was only due to luck that the prototype Mosquito had not only survived but was now the star exhibit on display at the site.

Curator Alistair Hodgson, Charles Clarke and Alan Brackley at the plaque unveiling in front of the prototype Mosquito. [Picture: DHAM]Curator Alistair Hodgson, Charles Clarke and Alan Brackley at the plaque unveiling in front of the prototype Mosquito. [Picture: DHAM]

After war service as a flying test bed for Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, it had been scheduled for destruction.

But this wasn’t done, and when in the 1950s he discovered it still existed, Walter Goldsmith, the new owner of Salisbury Hall, persuaded the de Havilland Aircraft Company to let him have the Mosquito on permanent loan.

Walter Goldsmith had a small hangar built in the hall grounds in which to display it to the public, opening in 1959.

It was the first aviation museum in Britain.

Mr Brackley said: “It is very fitting that this award is being presented on the very spot where this prototype was actually designed and built.”

Alongside the prototype, the de Havilland Aircraft Museum has two other Mosquitos – a Mosquito FB Mk.VI fighter-bomber and a Mosquito B.Mk.35 bomber.

It is the only museum in the world to have three examples of the type.

• For more information about the museum visit www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk

The award plaque. [Picture: DHAM]The award plaque. [Picture: DHAM]

The de Havilland DH98 MosquitoThe de Havilland DH98 Mosquito

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