Thursday, November 25, 2010

W4050 clocks 70

The first of many Mosquitos takes flight. Via the Mosquito Aircraft Association of Australia.

The prototype de Havilland Mosquito, W4050, celebrates 70 years since its first flight. This, the original day bomber prototype, was rolled out on 19 November 1940, and first flew on 25 November, only 10 months after the go-ahead from the British Air Ministry. The original estimates were that as the Mosquito prototype had twice the surface area and over twice the weight of the 1940 Spitfire Mk II, but also with twice its power, the Mosquito would end up being 20 mph faster. Over the next few months, W4050 surpassed this estimate, easily beating the Spitfire Mk II in testing at RAF Boscombe Down in February 1941 at a top speed of 392 mph at 22,000 ft altitude, compared to a top speed of 360 mph at 19,500 ft for the Spitfire.

Unlike almost all other prototype aircraft from the era, this one survives, and in good hands. As Bruce Gordon of the de Havilland Heritage Centre (the aircraft's long-term home) reports:
"70 years on, she is one of very few surviving wartime prototype aircraft and is currently undergoing an exhaustive restoration at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum. In the next few weeks, she will be dismantled into her component parts for the first time since 1959, to enable detailed work to continue."
Some years ago, in the 1980s. James Kightly.

It is a very historic prototype; a very historic preserved aircraft, and in a very historic museum.

A grand milestone in preservation and history.

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