Mosquito Prototype Restoration Celebration
SEVENTY-five years ago to the minute it was rolled out of its hangar for its maiden flight, the prototype of one of Britain’s most iconic aeroplanes reprised that event on Wednesday (November 25th).
The de Havilland Mosquito, glistening in its newly applied paintwork at the end of a five-year full restoration project aided by a £41,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, is the star resident at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in the grounds of historic Salisbury Hall, London Colney, Herts.
Its 75th anniversary was marked with a special celebration where the audience included the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the Countess Verulam, the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Jonathan Trower, the Mayors of nearby St Albans Salih Gaygusuz, the Mayor of Hertsmere Martin Worster, the chief executive of the RAF Museum Maggie Appleton, and Second World War Mosquito aircrew veterans.
After its first flight, made from the company’s Hatfield airfield, the Mosquito became Britain’s first true multi-role aircraft, surpassing de Havilland’s earlier multi-role aeroplane, the DH4 in the First World War, and was also the world’s fastest operational frontline aeroplane, taking part in a number of famous operations against enemy targets during the 1939-45 war.
The prototype, W4050, was used for three years as a flying test bed for different versions of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine which powered thousands of the Royal Air Force fighters and bombers. W4050 became the fastest Mosquito of the near-8,000 built, reaching 439mph in level flight.
It was returned to de Havilland at Hatfield, and in 1959 became the first aircraft at the museum set up by the owner of Salisbury Hall, Walter Goldsmith.
That the museum was set up at all was a fluke. Mr Goldsmith, the new owner of the hall, discovered during renovation works a number of drawings on a wall. Knowing of the hall’s connection with de Havilland, which in 1940 set up the Mosquito design office there, he asked the company about his find.
The drawings were of the Mosquito, and learning that the prototype still existed, he asked de Havilland if he could have it.
The answer was yes, and W4050 returned to the place where it had not only been designed but built as well in hangars specially constructed in the hall grounds.
It has been at the museum ever since on long-term loan. As it was rolled out of its hangar yesterday Howard Mason, heritage manager at BAE Systems which includes the de Havilland Aircraft Co, presented the museum with the official documents making it the legal owner of the prototype.