The story behind the de Havilland Aircraft Museum’s Mosquito fighter-bomber
PUBLISHED: 14:14 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:47 25 May 2020
de Havilland Aircraft Museum
In our regular Curator’s Corner, Alistair Hodgson, curator of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum, shares some of the Hertfordshire museum’s special attractions and hidden secrets. This week it’s one of the museum’s Mosquitos.
As we’ve recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day, I thought that a wartime aircraft would be appropriate, so here’s our DH.98 Mosquito FB Mk.VI which is nearing the end of a long restoration process.
Although originally designed as a bomber and photographic reconnaissance aircraft, it didn’t take long for the Air Ministry to recognise the Mosquito’s potential for many other roles: as a fighter, night fighter and also a fighter-bomber – hence the ‘FB’ in this Mosquito’s designation.
The idea of a fighter-bomber is to carry both guns and bombs, and its mission is generally to attack at low level using its guns to keep the enemy’s heads down as it came in for its bombing run.
Because of its speed and manoeuvrability, the Mosquito was ideal in this role.
In fact, more Mosquitos were built as fighter-bombers than any other type.
Mosquito fighter-bombers took part in some of the most daring raids of the Second World War, such as Operation Jericho, the raid on Amiens Prison in Northern France where French resistance fighters were being held for interrogation by the Gestapo.
The raid breached the walls of the prison and allowed many of the prisoners to escape, although Group Captain Pickard, the leader of the mission, failed to return.
There was also Operation Carthage, the low-level Mosquito raid on the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen which was deliberately aimed at destroying all the records of the Danish resistance fighters to prevent them being rounded up and executed.
Many lives were saved by these and other Mosquito missions but there was an inevitable cost in aircrews and civilian casualties as well.
Our Mosquito FB.VI has been undergoing restoration for at least 15 years now – it served in Europe after the war and ended up at Delft University in Holland.
The fuselage came to the museum in 1975 and was mated up to the wings of another Mosquito.
Restoration has, of course, been halted temporarily but when we can restart, it won’t be too long before this huge project is complete.
The de Havilland Aircraft Museum is closed until further notice.
Visit www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk for the latest news from the museum based at Salisbury Hall, London Colney.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Herts Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box below for details.