Regular readers of Warbirds News know we’ve been following the progress of Jerry Yagen and the Military Aviation Museum’s de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, from its shipment from New Zealand to the announcement of its first public appearance. The plane has been being assembled over the past few weeks at the Military Aviation Museum’s facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the assistance of technicians from Avspecs Ltd of New Zealand, who had completed the assembly and initial test flights of the plane at their shop in the Southern Hemisphere before disassembling it and packing it into three shipping containers for the month-long oversea journey to its new home in the states.
The project, which has resulted in what is believed to be the world’s only airworthy Mosquito, has been an 8-year and reportedly four million dollar odyssey for Yagen and the museum. The Mosquito’s unique glued balsa and birch wood construction conceived to minimize metal usage during wartime, made for an extremely lightweight plane, that while an exceptional performer, had no shot at longevity as the animal glues that held their molded wood fuselages together made for a plane that literally decomposed, and quite rapidly if exposed to the elements.
Perhaps for the sheer challenge of the project, Hagen located a mouldering pile of wood that had once been a Mosquito but still had much of its metal bracketry and other non-wooden items intact and had a body fabricated from scratch by Mr. Glyn Powell of Papakura, New Zealand, based upon jigs and molds he had completed by hand over the course of a decade for a static display Mosquito commissioned by the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association. An airworthy Mosquito, being something of the holy grail for aviation enthusiasts, as word got out that Hagen was resurrecting one, needed rare parts necessary for the restoration were offered up to aid in the project. Landing gear brakes from England, a pair of engines from Australia, instruments and a propeller from Canada, a seat found (un)surprisingly enough on eBay, “One by one, these pieces all came out of the woodwork” says Yagen.
The plane has been finished in the colors and marking of the 487th Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force that, flying their Mosquitos, took part in the daring Allied raid dubbed “Operation Jericho” where Allied bombers attacked the Amiens prison in German-occupied France, causing extensive damage to the facility and enabling over a hundred Resistance prisoners, who were scheduled for execution, to escape.
The plane underwent ground testing for FAA inspectors last week, which it passed with flying colors and while the air tests for certification to fly in US airspace was originally scheduled for last Friday, uncooperative weather on that day and over the weekend caused delays in doing the flight certification. This morning the plane took to the air and was put through it’s paces without incident, though it is still awaiting final certification from the FAA which is expected shortly. The public debut for the Mosquito is scheduled for the Military Aviation Museum’s Warbirds Over the Beach Air Show on the 18th and 19th of this month.
Here is the video of the take off.
Thanks to Jon Brawner, one of the mechanics at Fighter Factory, for sending the video to us!