de Havilland Mosquito

The early achievements of the American Wright brothers stirred the inventive brain of a young British engineer Geoffrey de Havilland. Born at Buckingham, England, on 27 July 1882, his early aviation trials carried his name aloft on more than fifty aircraft designs. In a sense his history became the story of British aviation. The de Havilland Aircraft Company began on 25 September 1920, located at Stag Lane aerodrome, Edgemare, some three miles from Hendon. In 1927, de Havilland organized its Canadian affiliate, the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd, located on Tretheway Drive, at Mount Dennis, north of Toronto, which was then out in the countryside of Ontario.

The greatest de Havilland triumph in World War Two was his magnificent Mosquito Fighter/bomber of novel design and the fastest aircraft of its time. The de Havilland idea of using two Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, around a fast, unarmed wooden aircraft, with a crew of two, was not fully appreciated or understood by the British Air Ministry of 1938-39.  The go ahead was given in July 1940, to build a fighter version of the mosquito, and the prototype serial EO234 first flew on 25 November that year. [On the third test flight the serial became W4050] Mosquito production was well under way in England by September 1941, when plans were being made to build the Mosquito in Canada. The Air Ministry and Canadian de Havilland took great pains to keep the new Canadian project a secret, and the story was only confirmed when the prototype [KB300 a B. Mark VII] began to take shape in the spring of 1942. The secret Canadian Mosquito contract had been signed on 11 September 1941, with the Canadian prototype built in twelve months, and the first unofficial flight of KB300 on 24 September 1942. In July 1943, Canadian Government officials journeyed south from Ottawa to witness a special “nose art” christening ceremony. The first five Canadian built Mosquitoes were named after the cities that donated the most money in the last Victory War Bond drive.

 The aircraft named – “Acton, Ontario”, “New Glasgow, Nova Scotia”, “Moose Jaw” – “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan”, and “Vancouver, B.C.”, were unveiled on the tarmac and soon ferried over the Atlantic to operations in England.

13 August 1943, Hatfield, England, the first Canadian Mosquito has arrived, KB161. Pilot [left] F/O Uren and his navigator F/O Beven are greeted by Mr. F.P. Lambert, senior production officer of de Havilland, England.

Photo PL19468 Ottawa.

Bruce Robertson photo of the second Canadian Mosquito to arrive in England.

KB162 “New Glasgow Nova Scotia, Canada.”

[PL19529] “Moose Jaw” arrived third, followed by “Saskatoon”[PL19534] and “Vancouver”.

The Canadian Mosquito played a starring role in many movie newsreels, advertising features and Canadian Victory War Bond drives. The 6th War Bond drive was held at the Downsview plant on 11 May 1944, and Hollywood was coming to Canada. Miss Joan Fontaine, cousin to young Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. was making a six-hour visit to the plant, to help the War Bond drive and present a three star Victory Pennant to the workers. Miss Fontaine then officially christened her own Mosquito aircraft [KB273] named “Joan.”
De Havilland Aircraft Canada press photo of the 11 May 1943 event as the flag is removed to show name “Joan”.