de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito T.Mk.III (TV959) is currently a work in progress at the Flying Heritage Collection (FHC) located at Paine Field, Washington. This particular one is currently the third flying Mosquito example (with more to follow) and the second reconstructed and restored to flight by Avspecs Ltd. in New Zealand (FB.Mk.26 fighter bomber KA114 being the first in 2013 and now based in Norfolk, Virginia in the Jerry Yagen collection. There is also a flying B.35 bomber variant, VR796 in British Columbia, Canada that was rebuilt and restored by Victoria Air Maintenance Ltd. to flight in 2014 for Bob Jens).
Checking Out the FHC Mosquito
This week I was at FHC with a fellow aviation enthusiast to take a look at the progress of TV959 and meet the Avspecs crew from New Zealand who are helping put TV959 back into flying condition (great blokes!). Seeing those big exposed 1,460hp Rolls Royce Merlin 21 V-12 engines up close is something else. This was somewhat of an unusual opportunity as the wheels are currently not fitted and the Mossie is a lot closer to the ground than it will normally be (soon enough all will be back together and this type of view is unlikely to happen again)!
TV959’s first post restoration flight was conducted by Avspecs in New Zealand in September 2016. It was fully tested out, then not long after was packed up and shipped to the USA. Since December 2016 it has been unpacked and is now being put back together in the second FHC hangar in preparation for its first engine runs and first flight stateside (it is kind of like a life size model kit!).
RAF History and Movie Career
TV959 was built in 1945 as an RAF training variant in Leavesden, England. To save on precious raw metals the Mosquito was mostly constructed of spruce, birch plywood and balsa, making it lighter and fast, hence the “Wooden Wonder” nickname. First flying in 1940, the type was fast and versatile also operating as a fighter-bomber, bomber, night fighter and reconnaissance aircraft and over 7,700 were produced going on to serve in numerous air forces around the world into the 1960’s.
TV959 had a long career with the RAF and flew on until 1963 (it was the last one retired)! It then entered the Imperial War Museum collection but was also briefly a star in the 1964 movie, 633 Squadron. Then it went on display in the museum until 1988 but it was not until 2003 that it was traded to FHC and then sent to New Zealand.
Although a dual control trainer some superficial modifications have and will be made to make it appear to be a FB.Mk.VI fighter-bomber including nose guns (the fighter-bomber variant had 4 x 20mm cannons and 4 x .303 machine guns in the nose). Currently only replica 4 x 20mm chin cannons are mounted.
The current dope finish will be replaced by a wartime camouflage scheme and markings (in NZ it had temporary RNZAF markings. I kind of wish they had been retained as it looked great!). I cannot wait to see it fly in person!