Flown only by 400 Squadron from 1942-1944

In June 1943, 400 squadron was reassigned to the fighter reconnaissance role and the unarmed Mosquito PR.XVI arrived.

An actual 400 Squadron Mosquito somewhere in England.

The "Mossie" was the nickname for one of the most remarkable combat Aircraft of the Second World War, the de Havilland Mosquito. The most striking feature of the Mossie was its construction. To reduce wartime metal use, the airframe was constructed almost entirely out of plywood. CF Photo

The design intent of the Mosquito was speed instead of defensive armament, and from the moment it first flew until 1944 it was the fastest plane in the war. Its speed, was 425mph at 30,000 feet and its maneuverability, even on just one engine, was spectacular. The original design was intended as a light bomber, but soon proved itself in high-level photography and every phase of intruder operations. In all, de Havilland Canada built 1,134 Mosquitos before the war's end of which 444 were on strength with the RCAF in models Bomber Mk. VII through Trainer Mk. 29 from 1 June, 1943 to 28 September, 1951. This late model "Mossie" (notice the altered nose built to house a radar antenna) is seen on a captured airfield in Europe. Note the D-Day markings under the wings and tail.

Canada's 'Wooden Wonder' Making Glorious Comeback

A second war-era Mosquito, recovered from an Alberta airfield dumpsite, will soar at the Hamilton Airshow in June, 2013

Written by: Randy Boswell, from the Ottawa Citizen

Submitted by: Garry Alexander, from the wilds of Alberta

When the world's last airworthy Mosquito fighter-bomber crashed at a British air show in 1996, the tragic deaths of the two men on board the Second World War-era plane were compounded by the heartbreaking loss to global aviation heritage.

"It's a shame," one Canadian vintage-aircraft expert said at the time. "There may never be another one getting up in the air."

The crash-site fireball that consumed two lives and the only "Wooden Wonder" still flying appeared certain to silence the Mosquito's famous buzz forever. But another of its kind - a Canadian-built de Havilland Mosquito that was almost written off as junk when it was discovered rotted and rusted in an Alberta farm field in the 1970s - has soared back into the sky after an eight-year, multinational, multimillion-dollar restoration..

The derelict Mosquito FB26-KA114 in an Alberta farm field in 1969.

The Mosquito FB26-KA114 in 2005 at Langley’s Museum of Flight and Transportation. The museum acquired the hulk in 1978, but plans to rebuild it never made it off the ground.

Now, after an eight-year restoration project, the piece of Canadian aviation history is flying again.

The born-again warbird, first flown in September in New Zealand, will make a highly anticipated "homecoming" appearance this spring at an air show in Hamilton - just a short hop from the site of de Havilland's Downsview aircraft factory in Toronto, where it was built in 1945.

The plane's planned comeback to this country will mark the culmination of an unprecedented rebuild headed by U.S. vintage-plane buff Jerry Yagen and helped along with bits and pieces of another Canadian-made Mosquito recovered from an airfield dump site and - remarkably - a nearby fence post in Kenora, Ont.

The newly rebuilt plane, Mosquito FB26-KA114, had rolled off the Toronto assembly line just as the war was ending and never went overseas.

"It was built too late to get into action," Yagen told Postmedia News this week.

Used briefly for training Royal Canadian Air Force pilots and then declared surplus by the Canadian government, it was one of two Mosquito castoffs acquired in 1947 by a farmer from Milo, Alta., who left the planes parked uncovered in a field to be plucked occasionally for spare parts.

British Columbia's Museum of Flight and Transportation acquired the hulks in 1978, but its plans to restore the Mosquitos never got off the ground. A private group of warplane enthusiasts purchased the less deteriorated specimen, leaving Yagen with the worst of the pair.

Finally shipped last week to Yagen's private air museum in Virginia, the now fully restored KA114 - one of about 1,100 built in Canada during the war, and one of 8,000 or so manufactured in total - is booked as the star attraction at the Hamilton Air Show in June.

"Everyone's been watching as the Mosquito was being rebuilt over in New Zealand for the last couple of years," said air show spokesman Al Mickeloff, marketing chief at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. "When we learned that it was going to be coming available, we booked it immediately. Obviously, it's got great historical significance for Canada. It hasn't been around for such a long time, and it's one of the most beloved aircraft."

Among those watching it fly on June 15 will be Hamilton resident George Stewart, an 89-year-old Royal Canadian Air Force veteran who harassed Luftwaffe fighters while serving as a Mosquito pilot in the Second World War.

The restored Canadian-built de Havilland Mosquito FB26-KA114 soars over Auckland, N.Z., in September 2012.

The warbird’s return to airworthiness nearly 70 years after its construction was a monumental task, says U.S. vintage-plane buff Jerry Yagen

Stewart, who is believed to have logged more hours in the aircraft than any living person, served as a flight consultant to Yagen's reconstruction team and travelled to Auckland last fall to witness the rebuilt Mosquito's return to the air.

"I've been talking to them for two years about its handling and stuff, before they tested it," said Stewart, adding that the plane's rebirth as a flying machine is an "awesome" moment for Canadian aviation heritage. "It was one of the most outstanding aircraft in Second World War," he said. "Now this is the only flying Mosquito in the world, and this is the very best Mosquito that I have ever seen in my whole life - and I've got over 1,000 hours on them."

KA114's return to airworthiness nearly 70 years after its construction was a monumental task, said Yagen, recalling the derelict Mosquito he purchased from the Langley, B.C.-based museum in 2005. "The wood was completely deteriorated," Yagen said. But the landing gear and other metal components were intact, "and a lot of the cockpit was still there."

Then, as word spread of the rebuilding effort undertaken by New Zealand aviation specialists hired by Yagen, replacement parts were gathered from hoarders in several countries - anyone who possessed a coveted remnant.

"We found parts all over the world," said Yagen, estimating that about 25 per cent of the rebuilt Mosquito derived from the Western Canada relic. "When people found out about what we were doing, they'd call up and ask, 'Do you need this? Do you need that?' And a lot of stuff we needed.

"We found a pair of engines in a man's garage in Australia," he added. "He'd bought them surplus many years ago. I have no idea what he intended to do with them, but after 50 years he finally decided, 'Well, I don't have any need for them.' So he sold them to us."

One key source of material was a Mosquito that had been used for aerial surveying in Canada and the U.S. after the war, until it was damaged in a rough landing at Kenora in the 1950s.

The disabled plane was simply "pushed into a ravine and covered up with dirt," said Yagen. And even though the heap was burned before burial, a number of small parts were recovered and incorporated into the rejuvenated KA114.

There was another coup in Kenora: a local resident had nabbed part of the junked Mosquito's nose and used it to cap a fence post on his property.

Why did he devote so much energy, time and money to the Mosquito project?

"It's like the Holy Grail," said Yagen. "They were very, very fast. The first ones they built they didn't even put guns on them - they just used them for reconnaissance and figured they could simply outrun the Germans."

"It's saving a piece of history - saving a piece of Canadian history, and a piece of aviation history," he added, noting that he pilots most of the dozens of vintage planes he owns. "And I would love to fly a Mosquito. This is the only way I'll be able to figure out how."

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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