Wooden Plane Most Successful Fighter-Bomber World War Two

de Havilland Mosquito, one of the most successful aircraft of World War Two, had airframe comprised entirely of wood.

 

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The Mosquito excelled in all its different roles including fighter-bomber. Above is a Mosquito being loaded or “bombed up” in RAF parlance. ” RAF station Swanton Morley in early 1942, this picture shows quartets of 500-pounder bombs going aboard a Mosquito Bomber B.IV of 105 Squadron.”

(photo courtesy imperial war museum)

Magnificent color photograph from IWM of a Mosquito being cared for by its ground crew.

 

A combat aircraft made of wood!? In World War Two? Yes. The fuselage of the Mosquito was made of balsa wood pressed between two layers of cedar plywood. The rest of the airframe was made of spruce, with plywood covering. Hard to believe but true.

 

how did the mosquito pictured below survive a direct hit by german flak gunners? Flak shredded the port wing and the port engine fell off. even a few feet of the starboard wing was sheared off by anti-aircraft.

The wing was built in one piece and attached to the lower side of the fuselage structure which gave substantial lateral strength to the wing which is probably the reason the plane managed to stay in the air and return slowly to Great Britain. The aircraft wasn’t very big: 41 feet long with a wingspan of 54 feet.

 

Royal Air Force Mosquito aka Wooden Wonder— as seen above —was hit by flak and you can see wood which comprised the wing.

21 February 1944 Severely damaged De Havilland Mosquito FB Mark VI, MM401 ‘SB-J’, of No. 464 Squadron RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) parked at Emergency Landing Ground, Sussex.

The aircraft, flown by Squadron Leader A G Oxlade (pilot) and Flight Lieutenant D M Shanks (navigator), was hit by anti-aircraft fire while attacking a flying-bomb site in the Pas de Calais on 21 February 1944.

The port engine was shattered, and the port undercarriage and most of the outer starboard wing was blown off. Despite the damage, the crew flew MM401 back and crash-landed safely at an Emergency Landing Ground. The port engine nacelle is seen here supported by a caterpillar tractor to enable the aircraft to be moved off the runway. The aircraft was written off.

The caption above from IWM photograph.

Copyright: © IWM.

Original Source: iwm.org.uk/collections/

 

Royal Air Force de Havilland Mosquito emblazoned with invasion stripes in flight. K “King” of No. 571 Squadron circa June/July 1944. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

 

On 4 June 1944, all Allied aircraft tasked to support Allied ground troops as they went shore during the Nor

 

The “Timber Terror” out-performed almost every other aircraft in World War Two. What made this aircraft so unusual was its versatility.  In addition to its initial role as a fighter-bomber, the Mosquito functioned equally well as a high altitude night bomber, night fighter, U-boat hunter, photo reconnaissance plane, daytime low altitude bomber, and daytime fighter.

No wonder its other nickname was the “Wooden Wonder.”

Loading_cookie_on_Mosquito_WWII_IWM_CH_12621Mosquito being bombed up with a 2,000 lb “cookie.”

(photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

 

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Best Plane of World War Two Made of Wood

From my novel, An Honorable German: “Behind him the Beau Sejour disintegrated, its wooden splinters cutting down the sentries and anyone else close by. There had been no air raid siren, no warning whatsoever, but this was hardly remarkable anymore. The RAF’s high-altitude Mosquito bombers were made entirely of wood and German radar often failed to pick them up.”

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The de Havilland Mosquito, one of the most successful aircraft of World War Two, had an airframe composed entirely of wood. Wood!? In World War Two? As odd as it seems the answer is ‘yes’. The fuselage of the Mosquito was made of balsa wood pressed between two layers of cedar plywood. The rest of the airframe was made of spruce, with plywood covering. The wing was built in one piece, and attached to the lower side of the fuselage structure. The aircraft wasn’t very big: 41 feet long with a wingspan of 54 feet.

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The “Timber Terror” out-performed almost every other aircraft in World War Two. It also functioned equally well as a high altitude night bomber, night fighter, U-boat hunter, photo reconnaissance plane, daytime low altitude bomber, and daytime fighter. No wonder its other nickname was the “Wooden Wonder.” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says the de Havilland Mosquito is thought to be the most versatile warplane ever built. I think anyone who studies the plane would agree.

The Mosquito annoyed the Germans to no end. In 1943, said Reichsmarshal Göring, the drug-addicted, foul toad of a man who was C-in-C of the Luftwaffe: “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy.

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The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked.” – as cited in “Pathfinder Aircraft” published by the RAF

The aircraft was the brainchild of Geoffrey de Havilland, the design and industrial genius behind the de Havilland Aircraft Company in Great Britain. He was a first cousin to actresses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine – who were sisters. Their father and Geoffrey’s father were half-brothers.

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The prototype made its first flight in late 1940 and was put through RAF testing in February of 1941. It out-performed the Supermarine Spitfire in the two critical areas de Havilland had envisioned: speed and altitude. The Mosquito tested out at a top speed of 392 mph (631 km/h) at 22,000 ft (6,700 m) altitude, compared to a top speed of 360 mph (579 km/h) at 19,500 ft (6,000 m) for the Spitfire. Quite an accomplishment.

By comparison, the US F-16 Falcon fighter jet, which is on active operations in the US and 28 other countries around the world has a a top speed of 1,500 mph, (2,410 km/h) at high altitude, its maximum altitude being 60,000 feet (18,000 m).

During his long life – 1882 to 1965 [45 years ago as of May 21st] – he died at age 82 and had continued to fly until he was 70, Geoffrey de Havilland set many records, invented many things, lived large but he will ever be remembered for the incredible de Havilland Mosquito which was so important to Allied victory. I wish I could have met him once.