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A52 DH 98 Mosquito

The de Havilland DH 98 Mosquito was perhaps the greatest all-round combat aircraft of World War II. The "Mossie" was originally designed as a fast, unarmed, light bomber. However, when flying tests commenced on 25 November 1940, this "wooden wonder" became the world's fastest operational aircraft, with a top speed of almost 400 mph. It also out-manoeuvred most fighters, and could carry out upward rolls from ground level with one engine feathered. With such an outstanding potential, the Mosquito was developed to carry out practically every offensive task.

Altogether, 7,781 Mosquitoes were built and 27 different versions were produced as fighter-bombers, photo-reconnaissance, low- and high-level day and night bombers, mine-layers, pathfinders and long-range day and night fighters. Mosquitoes also served with the Royal Navy (Sea Mosquito), Royal Canadian Air Force, United States Army Air Force, and RAAF Nos 456 and 464 Squadrons, which operated RAF-serialled fighter and bomber versions.

In 1942, the Australian de Havilland factory at Bankstown commenced production of a fighter-bomber Mosquito, the DHA 98 FB Mk 40. Initial delays were caused by the unavailability of Canadian birchwood, and Australian coachwood had to be substituted. The first Australian Mosquito was delivered on 23 July 1943, and accepted by the RAAF on 5 March 1944. The FB Mk 40 was equivalent to the RAF FB Mk VI (the RAF retained Roman numerals until 1948) and, although 212 were built at Bankstown (A52-1/212), only 209 served with the RAAF because A52-12, 18 and 24 crashed before acceptance. Six of the FB Mk 40s were converted for photo-reconnaissance as PR Mk 40s, and they retained their original serials: A52-2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 26. These aircraft operated so effectively that a further 28 FB Mk 40s were converted to PR Mk 41s and renumbered A52-300/327 (ex A52-90, 192/211, 41, 45, 49, 62, 64, 83, 36 respectively).

Previously, A52-90 had been re-engined with Packard Merlin 69s and became the sole FB Mk 42: however, this mark was superseded and A52-90 was used as the prototype for the PR Mk 41 and reserialled A52-300.

On 28 January 1943, a RAF Mk II (DD664) became the first Mosquito to operate with the RAAF when, as A52-1001, it was used as the prototype for the local FB Mk 40. It was also the forerunner of 14 RAF T Mk IIIs (A52-1002/1015). Australian versions of these trainers were developed by converting 22 FB Mk 40s to T Mk 43s with the new serials A52-1050/1071 (ex A52-3, 16, 17, 19, 20, 10, 8, 11, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 42, 44, respectively). In addition, a further 61 ex-RAF bomber Mosquitoes were used by the RAAF as follows: 38 B Mk VIs (A52-500/537) and 23 PR Mk XVIs (A52-600/622). Thus, altogether, 209 Australian Mosquitoes and 76 UK Mosquitoes served with the RAAF. These aircraft fitted with a variety of engines including Merlin 31s, Merlin 33s and Packard Merlin 69s.

The RAAF Mosquitoes played a limited, but effective, part in the later years of the Pacific War and serviced with No 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit, Nos 87 and 94 Squadrons, No 78 Wing, No 1 Aircraft Performance Unit, Aircraft Research and Development Unit, Central Flying School, No 5 Operational Training Unit and Ferry/Survey Flights.

Post-war, PR Mosquitoes were used extensively between 1947–53 on survey flying throughout Australia. Mosquito flying ceased mainly in 1954, and the aircraft still on RAAF strength were sent for disposal, except for a few which were transferred to the RNZAF.

TECHNICAL DATA: de Havilland DHA 98 Mosquito FB Mk 40


Long-range, high-altitude fighter-bomber. Two crew. All wooden construction.


Two 1460 hp Packard Merlin 31s or Merlin 33s.


Span 16.51 m (54 ft 2 in); length 12.45 m (40 ft 6 in); height 4.65 m (15 ft 3 in).


Empty 6506 kg (14 344 lb); loaded 10 096 kg (22 258 lb).


Max speed 611 km/h (330 kt); Cruising speed 410 km/h (221 kt); Initial climb 731 m (2400ft)/min; Ceiling 33,000 ft (10 058 m); Range 1802 km (973 nm).


Four 20 mm cannon, four 0.303 guns forward; Two 227 kg (500lb) bombs in fuselage, plus two 227 kg (500 lb) bombs, or Rocket Projectiles under the wings. Back to top

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