Posted on July 11, 2018 · Posted in Aircraft Hangar
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Ben Farmer, The Telegraph

A newly-discovered hoard of secret Second World War aircraft technical drawings will be used by enthusiasts to rebuild and launch a Mosquito plane into the skies above Britain. More than 20,000 wartime Mosquito engineering drawings and diagrams have been found in the corner of a wartime factory just days before bulldozers were due to flatten it.

The archive includes what are thought to be the world’s only complete set of engineering drawings for the plane, as well as details of variants that never made it off the drawing board. The drawings, on microfilm cards, have been donated to a charity hoping to restore and fly a crashed version of the versatile, twin-engined, de Havilland aircraft.

The charity behind the project, The People’s Mosquito, said the documents provided invaluable technical details needed to rebuild their plane to strict aviation safety standards.

John Lilley, chairman, said the drawings had been found earlier this year by an engineer just before the former de Havilland building in Broughton, near Chester, was to be demolished.

He said: “He understood the tremendous historic value in these engineering drawings and how useful they could be. The building itself was soon to be demolished and the contents discarded. It’s incredible to think that they might have been lost forever.”

The charity hopes to resurrect the remains of a Mosquito night fighter that crashed at RAF Coltishall, in February 1949, while serving with No 23 Sqn.

Ross Sharp, engineering director for the project, said: “As you can imagine, restoring an aircraft that is 70 years old presents several challenges, one of which is a lack of information on the building techniques, materials, fittings and specifications.”

“These plans enable us to glean a new level of understanding and connection with the brilliant designers who developed the world’s first, true, multi-role combat aircraft.”

The Mosquito was designed by Sir Geoffrey de Havilland and was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world when it entered service in 1941.

To preserve scarce metal reserves and for speed of production, the plane was made from pieces of wood, pressed and glued together in moulds, earning it the nickname ‘The Wooden Wonder’. Exactly 7,781 were eventually built, the last one on November 15, 1950. 6,710 of them were delivered during WWII.

Herman Goering, Germany’s wartime aviation minister, said the aircraft turned him “green and yellow with envy”.

“In 1940 I could fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now!” he famously said. “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops.”

The design was so versatile it served as a bomber, fighter, night fighter, U-boat hunter and reconnaissance plane.

The discarded diagrams include details that were top secret during the war and even plans for variants that were never built.

New discoveries include early planes to carry torpedoes, possibly to attack the Tirpitz, and a previously unknown photo-reconnaissance plane.

There is also a blueprint for stowing desert equipment in the rear fuselage, in a drawing marked ‘Mosquito Mk I, Tropics’ Only three Mosquitos are today in flying condition, one in Canada and two in America.

The restoration will cost an estimated £6m, with only a fraction of the money raised so far.

Mr Lilley said: “No other aircraft has amassed such a remarkable combat record in so short a time, flying so many different types of mission and excelling in each one. Even today, it remains one of the world’s most successful multirole combat aircraft, and it was all British, made by men and women who only a few months earlier had been building furniture and mending pianos.”

For More Information…

Why was the De Havilland Mosquito made of wood?

  • Spruce, birch plywood and Ecuadorean balsa were in plentiful supply during the war and were not considered strategic materials.
  • Furniture factories, cabinetmakers, luxury-auto coachbuilders and piano makers could quickly be drafted in as subcontractors to make the individual parts of the plane.
  • Wood, particularly when covered with a thin layer of doped fabric, makes a remarkably smooth, aerodynamic surface free of rivets and seams and therefore drag.
    Battle damage could be repaired relatively easily in the field.

 

avatar
Wings & Airpower magazines are a treasure trove of aviation history. AirWingMedia.com has been granted an exclusive license to offer Wings & Airpower magazines in a digitized PDF eBook format you can purchase & download on your Windows/Mac/Linux computer and iOS/Android tablet or smartphone. Learn more in our AirWingMedia Store & Magazine Index. Follow us on Twitter & Facebook.