After a seven year reconstruction and restoration by Avspecs Ltd. in Auckland, New Zealand a de Havilland Mosquito FB Mk.26 fighter-bomber, “The Wooden Wonder” took to the skies once again in 2012 appearing at a number of flying events around Auckland (the first flight was September 27th, 2012). This particular aircraft, serial number KA114, was originally built in Canada in 1945 (one of 338 Mk.26 built there) and is currently the only flying example of any Mosquito version in the world (the last other flying example crashed in the UK in 1996). The good news is that in a few years there will be more flying with other projects in both NZ and the UK underway!
For me the “Mossie” has a special place as a relative, Charles Curnow Scherf was one of Australia’s best aces during World War Two flying a similar type of Mosquito over Europe. When I heard that Mosquito KA114 would be flying at Wings Over Wairarapa 2013 in New Zealand (in the town of Masterton at Hood Aerodrome on January 18th-20th) I just had to get over there and see this magnificent machine fly. This was also to be the last public flying display in New Zealand for KA114 before being flown back to Auckland, packed up and shipped to Virginia in the USA (it is owned by Jerry Yagen and will become the star flying attraction of his Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach).
On the friday Wings Over Wairarapa air show practice day I arrived by train from Wellington in the morning and was walking to the aerodrome when I heard the unique sound of two Rolls Royce Merlin’s purring away in the sky, that was when I caught my first glimpse of the Mosquito flying over Masterton and preparing to land. What a sight! So sleek, so fast, a truly beautiful machine! You could not swipe the smile off my face for the next 3 days as I got to watch the “Mossie” fly again and again (not only in solo displays but also in many different formations with classic historical aircraft!). Absolutely brilliant!
KA114 was recovered in a bad state from a farm in Canada. Although saved from being scrapped it was left in the open on the farm and was in bad shape, being in pieces and badly deteriorated. The “Mossie” was made almost entirely of wood (“The Wooden Wonder” – basically intended to overcome a shortage of metal during World War Two) so being a machine of war it wasnt really ever intended to last forever.
Almost 7,800 Mosquito’s were built around the world between 1940-1950 and different variants served a multitude of roles (fighter-bomber, bomber, night fighter, maritime strike and photo reconnaissance). Given this is currently the only flying survivor makes this recovery and restoration quite remarkable and has caused a sensation in the warbird community around the world! Avspecs Ltd. have completed some wonderful work on KA114 and to restore the aircraft the jigs and massive molds used to shape the plywood of the airframe had to be built from scratch just like the originals, these thankfully can be reused to build more Mosquitos in the future. Exciting times lay ahead!
The Mosquito was powered by 2 Rolls Royce Merlin engines (in the case of Canadian built FB Mk.26 Mosquito’s licence built Packard Merlin 225’s were used) and had a very fast top speed of 380 mph / 612 km/h (faster than contemporary Supermarine Spitfire’s!) and a long-range. The aircraft could also provide a powerful punch being heavily armed (4 x 20mm Hispano cannons and 4 x .303 Browning machine guns mounted in the nose, a bomb bay for 2 x 250-lb /113 kg, plus either bombs or rockets under the wings). Seeing the Mosquito fly I gained a much greater appreciation of the speed and grace of the machine. I could also imagine Charles Scherf flying low over all those German airfields during World War Two ripping them up!
The Mosquito was a very formidable aircraft and one of the best from World War Two. To see one fly again has been a real highlight of my aviation enthusiast pursuits!