22 December 2007 (updated 23 July 2015) | London, England. Military aviation aficionados may recall de Havilland Mosquitoes from the 1964 film 633 Squadron, which starred American actor and pilot Cliff Robertson. Robertson portrayed a fictional volunteer who had joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a member of an Eagle squadron and attained the rank of Wing Commander. His latter charges were Mosquito (also known as ‘Mossie’) fighter-bombers and their aircrews.
Too much cannot be said about these phenomenal and versatile aerial wonders. Mosquitoes were swift, rugged and heavily armed. The aeroplane relied upon a plywood structure and was, as the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Mosquito webpage states, constructed of “Alaskan spruce, English ash, Canadian birch and fir, and Ecuadorian balsa glued and screwed together in new, innovative ways. . .”
The planes became a legendary, but only after de Havilland had designed, produced and proved the flying machine on the firm’s own initiative. Incredibly the Air Ministry initially believed the type to be a frail, wood machine that was unsuitable for wartime service, but, after grudging acceptance, Mosquitoes filled a gap in the RAF’s bomber armoury. Gavin Lyall states (page 245) the following in The War in the Air: The Royal Air Force in World War II: “Thus, the greatness little aircraft ever built came into the squadron service as a bomber in the Royal Air Force.”
The Discovery Channel declared that Eagle Rock Entertainment‘s De Havilland Mosquito is “Military archaeology at its best. . .” This reviewer finds it difficult to argue the point. The documentary features interviews with former pilots and rare black and white stills and film of Mosquitoes in addition to beautiful contemporary in-cockpit colour footage. Despite an opening that contains much unrelated black and white archival film, De Havilland Mosquito is highly recommended for those who desire a thorough history of this great warbird. The DVD is manufactured on demand via Amazon.com by utilising DVD-R recordable media.
The reviewer (John Stemple) is a member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society, Royal Canadian Air Force Association/de l’Aviation royale Canadienne, Calgary Mosquito Society and Bomber Command Museum of Canada.
Sources and Suggested Readings
De Havilland Mosquito. London, Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2007. DVD. ASIN: B000M5ALRK.
Lyall, Gavin, ed. The War in the Air: The Royal Air Force in World War II. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968.