Your own drummer

By » Mon, September 17 2012

The De Havilland Mosquito is one of my all time favorite aircraft. I love everything about it, from the shape, the roar of the twin Merlin engines, the raw speed, or the bizarre armaments like a 6 pounder artillery piece, or 4000 pounds of bombs (about the same payload as the B-17), or radar and a slew of machine guns for night fighting. The Mozzy operated anywhere from 50 to 30,000 feet, and, depending on who you ask, was the fastest aircraft in the allied arsenal.

Watching gun camera footage of a a squadron of Mosquitoes flying so close to the ground that they have to climb to clear a brick fence outside of a French country house sends tingles up my spine. This plane caused the Third Reich so much trouble that Air Marshall Hermann Goring simply copied it and hoped it would wreak as much havoc with the Allies as had been wrought upon them.

ta154 450x291 Your own drummer

Eats bullets and shits tanks (img unattributed)

But all that aside, what really fascinates me about the Mosquito is its creator. Jeffrey De Havilland had been the man behind several revolutionary aircraft. But in an age where aluminum and special metallic alloys had taken over as the primary material in aircraft construction, the Mosquito was made almost entirely out of plywood. Lots of really smart people were telling him he was borderline brain dead for building a modern aircraft from turn of the century materials. In the face of this criticism he carried on, and ended up being the inventor of one of the fastest most versatile airframes in the RAF. His notions that a fast airplane was a safe plane were correct, so while B-17s and RAF Lancasters lumbered across the skies of Europe suffering staggering losses, the Mosquito could deliver the same payload and then simply out run any pursuit sent after them.

By flying below 50 feet they were undetectable by German radar, and nearly impossible for ground forces to shoot down. Jeffery De Havilland’s perseverance despite the criticism of his peers–that absolute faith that he was right, and they were simply not seeing what he saw–is what’s truly amazes me.

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