de Havilland’s prototype Mosquito to be restored

A UNIQUE prototype of one of World War Two’s most significant aircraft is to be fully restored.

Built by Hatfield company de Havilland, the Mosquito was once the fastest plane in the world and played a crucial part in several key Allied missions.

Its prototype – the W4050 – was built in secret at an outbuilding of Salisbury Hall, London Colney, before being dismantled and transported over to Hatfield for reassembling and test flights.

After Geoffrey de Havilland successfully tested the Mosquito, it was mass-produced and became one of the greatest planes of all time.

The prototype, however, returned to London Colney, at what is now The de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, which looks after and refurbishes a collection of de Havilland’s aircrafts.

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It has remained in its original hangar for the past 50 years, until this week when the team at the centre moved the W4050 alongside the centre’s two other ‘Mossies’.

The transportation meant dismantling the wings and fuselage in preparation for a full renovation.

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Bob Glasby is part of the volunteer team, whose members have been on a lottery funded course (National Heritage Aviation Skills Initiative) to improve their restoration work.

He said they would be using all their years of experience to help preserve what was effectively a ‘handmade’ craft.

“This aircraft is the jewel in the crown of the de Havilland Heritage Centre,” he said.

“I feel that as one of the most historic surviving aircraft in the world, we team of volunteers have been somewhat reticent to tackle the preservation of this aircraft, as we realised we could do more damage than good if it were not carried out properly.

“However having ‘cut our teeth’ on the FBVI Mosquito, the team feel we can now start on this preservation.”

Painstaking issues to be tackled include keeping every nut and bolt, as well fixing split fabric covering and examining the Mosquito from top to bottom.

At the end of the project the engine – a Merlin 70 series with two stage superchargers – will be fitted and the W4050 will be painted in brown and green camouflage on top and trainer yellow on bottom, matching the livery when it was officially the fastest plane in the world.

It will not be airworthy.

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