Curator’s corner: The story of the Mosquito bomber at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum

PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:50 11 April 2020

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35 with a selection of weapons that would have been carried operationally.

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35 with a selection of weapons that would have been carried operationally.

de Havilland Aircraft Museum

Alistair Hodgson, curator of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum, shares some of the museum’s special attractions and hidden secrets. This week it is one of the Hertfordshire museum’s three Mosquitos.

Inside the cockpit of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35Inside the cockpit of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35

This week’s aeroplane is one of our three Mosquitos: it’s our B Mk.35 bomber, and it’s the youngest Mosquito in our collection.

Built at the very end of the war, it went into service not as a bomber but as a ‘Target Tug’, towing aerial targets for gunnery practice.

It remained in service with the RAF in Germany into the 1950s, and following its retirement it was used in the making of the film Mosquito Squadron in 1968.

It was originally planned to have been on display in Liverpool, but was instead given to the museum in 1971.

READ MORE: Curator’s corner: The story of the DH.106 Comet at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum

Other Mosquito bombers flew as wartime airliners in civilian livery with the airline BOAC, ferrying high-value cargo and VIP passengers between Scotland and Sweden.

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35The de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35

One such VIP was the Danish nuclear physicist Professor Niels Bohr, who had fled Nazi-occupied Copenhagen to Stockholm.

In October 1943, arrangements were made to fly him to the UK in a BOAC Mosquito.

A hammock was installed in the bomb bay and the passenger was provided with a flying helmet, oxygen mask and reading light.

He was told to put on the helmet and listen for the pilot telling him when he needed to put on his oxygen mask during the flight.

READ MORE: Curator’s corner: The story of the Sea Venom at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum

Unfortunately, Professor Bohr had a rather large head and after take-off he discovered too late that he couldn’t get the helmet on.

Inside the cockpit of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35Inside the cockpit of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum's Mosquito B Mk.35

As a result, he didn’t hear the pilot’s instruction to put on the oxygen mask and without it, he lost consciousness as the aircraft climbed.

On arrival at RAF Leuchars in Scotland he was rescued from the bomb bay and he complimented the crew on an excellent flight, saying that he had slept the whole way!

Now converted back to its bomber configuration, our Mosquito B.35 bomber is a fitting tribute to the bravery of the crews, both military and civilian, who flew this remarkable aircraft in the most hazardous of circumstances.

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, is solely reliant on visitor admission fees and charitable donations.

de Havilland Aircraft Museumde Havilland Aircraft Museum

You can donate at www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk/product/charitable-donation/

Visit www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk for more on the aviation museum dedicated to preserving the heritage of the de Havilland Aircraft Company based in Hatfield.


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