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WWII fighter-bomber to receive Engineering Heritage Award

29 March 2018

The aircraft will receive the accolade from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for its pioneering bonded composite aircraft construction, still used today.

The de Havilland Mosquito (Credit: Shutterstock)
The de Havilland Mosquito (Credit: Shutterstock)

The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world when it entered service in 1941, will be presented with an Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at a ceremony at the De Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire on Sunday 1 April. 

The fast, high-flying Mosquito was able, for much of WWII, to roam almost at will over enemy-occupied territory. Built with wooden components, it was designed for speed and range as a two-seat unarmed light bomber, unarmed reconnaissance aircraft and long range fighter. Its performance derived from a combination of careful packaging, an aerodynamically clean shape, a high wing loading (by pioneering a smaller wing area) and high power from two supercharged liquid-cooled V-12 Merlin engines. 

The Mosquito evolved over the course of over 30 different prototypes, leading to a final design which allowed it to excel as a multi-role aircraft. The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito prototype achieved a maximum speed of 437mph in October 1942 at 29,000 feet. 

Previous winners of Engineering Heritage Awards include Alan Turing’s Bombe at Bletchley Park, the E-Type Jaguar and Concorde, the fastest ever airliner. Other aircraft-related winners include the Short SC1 VTOL aircraft, a plane which provided data that influenced later designs of aeroplanes, the Rolls-Royce RB211 engine and the Vulcan Bomber XH558, the last airworthy representative of the RAF’s V-bomber fleet.

The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Prototype will be the 117th recipient of the award.

Charles Clarke, Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: 

“Confident in their vision for this aircraft, de Havilland persisted with the design and prototyping against Ministry setbacks (Lord Beaverbrook cancelled the project after Dunkirk) and the first flight took place on 25 November 1940. Exactly 7,781 Mosquitos were built – a vindication of de Havilland’s vision. The Mosquito’s construction from wood meant that it was easily repaired and it enabled furniture and piano factories in England, Canada and Australia to build the aircraft. The absence of armaments meant that it could be kept aerodynamically clean and could carry higher payloads – a philosophy continued by the Canberra and the V- bombers. Certainly no aeroplane flew so many different types of mission and performed them as well as the Mosquito.” 

Alistair Hodgson, Curator of the De Havilland Aircraft Museum, said: 

“I am delighted that the Institution has recognised the Mosquito Prototype with this award. The aircraft is a very significant piece of our Aviation Heritage, the more so because the de Havilland Aircraft Museum is located on the site where this aircraft was designed and built in great secrecy during the War.” 

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