The de Havilland Mosquito

By Bob Pearson

One of the most aesthetic aircraft to ever grace the skies would have to be the de Havilland Mosquito. Used in various guises from unarmed bomber to heavily armed anti-shipping fighter-bomber with a 57mm cannon, the Mossie also was to be seen in many different schemes, some of which are shown on this and the following pages.

The first variant of the Mosquito to see service was the PR Mk.I, which entered service in the late summer of 1941. And flew its first combat mission on 17 September. From this date on the Mosquito was to become a common sight in the skies over the Axis powers.

BOMBER Mk.IV/FIGHTER Mk.II

Mosquito B Mk.IV DK333
PO Stephens/Ruskell
No.109 Sqn RAF

The first pattern carried by the Mosquitos was that seen on the other aircraft of Bomber Command - brown/green topsides with black undersurfaces. Aircraft codes and serials are in dull red.

Mosquito B Mk.IV DZ367
No.105 Sqn RAF

The next pattern seen on Bomber Command Mossies was gray/green upper surfaces and sky under surfaces along with light gray codes and black serials.

Mosquito B Mk.IV G-AGFV

During the war, Britain needed to keep in contact with neutral Sweden for such materials as precision-machined ball bearings and machine-tool steel. BOAC initially operated a pair of Lockheed Lodestars for this route, but the performance of the Lodestar resulted in it only being flown in bad weather and clouds to protect it from fighter interception. BOAC sought a replacement, and after refusing the government's suggestions of Whitleys and Albermarle, the Mosquito was selected. The first BOAC Mosquitos were B. Mk. IVs, followed by FB. Mk. VIs. With the Mosquito, interception by the Luftwaffe was unlikely, and the lines of communication remained open between England and Sweden. G-AGFV is seen in standard RAF camouflage, the only additions being its civil registration and a large red/white/blue horizontal stripe on the fuselage.

Mosquito NF Mk.II W4082
No.157 Sqn RAF
March-August 1942

The Mosquito was early on recognized as being suitable for modification into the fighter role. As such they were fitted with four 20mm cannon and four .303 machine guns. At the same time the need for night-fighters was becoming apparent and the Mosquito NF Mk.II was created by mating the F Mk.II with the Mk.IV AI (Airborne Intercept) radar - the result being the NF Mk.II. The only external difference was the arrowhead aerial on the nose and dipoles on the wingtips. These early Mosquitos were finished in a special matt black paint that was supposed to lessen the likelihood of being seen at night. Note the type A1 roundel and the early fin flash.

Mosquito NF Mk.II (Intruder) DD712
No.23 Sqn RAF
November 1942

The desire to take the war to the enemy led to many types of aircraft being employed in the intruder role. These aircraft roamed over Europe at night and were directed to cause the maximum disruption to the enemy's lines of communications as possible. One favoured tactic was to wait in the vicinity of a German airfield and shoot down any returning aircraft careless enough to think it was safely at home. The NF.IIs employed on this function had their radar removed. . and were to all intents and purposes standard F Mk.IIs. DD712 shows the next step in NF markings. . the roundel is now type C1, while the fin flash has had its white centre stripe reduced in width.

Mosquito NF Mk.II (Intruder) DZ716
No.605 Sqn

For night-fighters, matte black finish was found to less helpful in concealment at night, Therefore most were refinished in an overall gray with green disruptive camouflage. However as the NF Mk.II (Intruder) was still operating in an environment where searchlights were a real danger, many kept their black bottom surfaces, even after adding the gray/green uppers.


FIGHTER-BOMBER

With the success of the Mosquito as a night-fighting machine, the logical step was to make it into a fighter-bomber operating by day.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI LR308
No.23 Sqn RAF
Malta
March 1944

The island of Malta was to be a thorn in the side of the Axis powers that they were never able to remove. As in Europe the intruder Mosquitos made their presence felt there by disrupting both land and sea communications. Shown here is a black bottomed FB.VI of No.23 Sqn operating in the night-intruder role.

Mosquito FB Mk.XVIII NT225
No.248 Sqn RAF
June 1944

All allied aircraft flying in European skies had black/white stripes painted around their fuselages and wings prior to the D-Day invasion of 6 June 1944. Originally these were around the entire fuselage and wings as seen here on a 57mm cannon-armed FB Mk.XVIII 'Tse-tse' Mosquito.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI NS843
No.464 Sqn RAAF
September 1944

The painting of the D-Day stripes was a very haphazard affair as far as placement of aircraft codes went. Some even had theirs covered up as on this FB.VI of No.464 Sqn. Also note that by September 1944 the wing stripes had been removed, leaving just the under fuselage ones intact.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI HR405
No.143 Sqn RAF

One of the other uses of the day-raiding Mosquito was by the Banff wing in an anti-shipping role. These aircraft were painted in an extra dark sea gray on all upper surfaces and sky on the bottom. However close examination of photos of these aircraft reveals that the EDSG is sprayed over the previous camouflage and the dark green can faintly be seen. HR405 also shows traces of the D-Day stripes on the upper fuselage. Also note the repositioned serial due to the earlier adding of the D-Day stripes.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI RS625
No.143 Sqn RAF

Another of No.143 Sqn's FB.VIs is seen here. Note the green background to the serial and the yellow and sky spinner.

Mosquito FB Mk.40 A52-41
No.5 OCU RAAF
December 1944

The Australian-built FB-40 was almost indentical to the British FB.VI except for the substitution of Packard engines for the FB.VIs Merlins.


PHOTO-RECONNAISSANCE

The first Mosquito to fly operationally was a PR Mk.I on 17 September 1941. From the start the PRU Mossies were in one basic scheme - PRU blue. As usual with RAF PRU aircraft, type B roundels were carried.

Mosquito PR Mk.XVI NS502
No.544 Sqn RAF
Summer 1944

Seen here in the standard D-Day attire, NS502 has had its serial repainted over the white of the stripes. The slipper tank is painted black to conform with the wing stripes.

Mosquito PR Mk.XVI NS644
No.680 Sqn RAF
Foggia, Italy
1944

After a few nasty incidents with friendly aircraft attacking their Mosquitos, No.680 Sqn took to painting the fin and rudder in red/white stripes to differentiate them from German Me410s. Also note the hastily applied D-Day stripes on the fuselage - not everyone managed to get them nice and straight.

Mosquito PR Mk.XVI MM357
SEAC Theatre
March 1945

In addition to Europe and the Mediterranean, the Mosquito was also used in South East Asia. The overall siver MM357 has the theatre markings of blue/light blue (or white) roundels and fin flash as well as black bands on the fin and stabilizer.

The next largest user of PR Mosquitos after the RAF was the USAF. As with their British conterparts, the USAF PRU Mossies carried overall PRU blue finish.

Mosquito PR Mk.XVI NS510
653rd BS, 25th BG, 8th AF USAF
June 1944

As with other aircraft operating over Europe in June 1994, NS510 carries full D-Day stripes.

Mosquito PR Mk.XVI MM389
654rd BS, 25th BG, 8th AF USAF
January 1945

An intriguing black bottomed PR.XVI

Mosquito PR Mk.XVI NS591
25th BG, 8th AF USAF
February 1945

Along with the PRU Mossies of No.680 Sqn, the re-tailed USAF must be considered the most colourful of an already attractive design. Note the D-Day stripes still carried at this late date.


FOREIGN

The Mosquito was operated by many diverse countries in the immediate postwar period. Some of which are shown here.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI
Nationalist Chinese Air Force
1948-1950

China acquired over 200 Mosquitos, all were Canadian built and of various marks including the FB.26 (Canadian-built FB.VI). They eventually equipped three squadrons, and saw some combat in 1948/49 before the Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan. Finish is OD upper surfaces and medium gray lower.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI RF823
Czechoslovakian Air Force
1945-1950

Following the end of WW2, 19 Mosquito FB.VIs were flown by the Czech Air Force. Despite an arms embargo, No.311 Sqn managed to keep their Mosquitos operational by using surplus German guns. During 1950 western aircraft were phased out in favour of Soviet types, with the Mosquito being replaced by the Il-2. Standard RAF camouflage is carried with Czech markings.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI
Dominican Air Force
circa 1950

The Dominican Republic acquired five FB.VIs. Later supplemented by some T.27s. Although a roundel is shown on the port undersurface, it is more likely that the serial 2102 was carried here as it appears on the upper starboard wing, and the roundel on the lower starboard wing of another Mosquito.

Mosquito NF Mk.XIX 30022
Swedish Air Force
1950

Sweden bought sixty ex-RAF NF.XIX Mosquitos in 1948, and gave them the designation J30. Upon delivery, the first, second, and third squadrons of the F1 Wing was equipped with the type and appropriate markings were painted on; The first squadron had white spinners and code letters, the second squadron blue spinners and code letters, and the third squadron yellow spinners and code letters. The letters were outlined in white, except for the first squadron, which were outlined in black. Later the first squadron changed from white to red for their colors, outlining the letters in white. The J30 had a short life in the Flygvapnet, being in front line service for only 6 years. The J30 was replaced by the Venom, a much more powerful night-fighter.

Mosquito FB Mk.VI
Turkish Air Force
1947-1950

Turkey purchased 142 Mosquitos, of which 137 were FB.Vis. The Turkish Air Force operated their Mosquitos until 1954.

Mosquito PR.XVI 90
Israeli Defence Force
Syria, 1956

Israel was one of the last countries to fly the Mosquito into combat, using ex-French and Royal Navy PR. XVI Mosquitos in the Suez crisis of 1956. While most Israeli PR Mosquitos were silver overall, a small number of them were camouflaged in the standard sand and blue over duck egg green. The Mosquito shown here was flown on a recce mission over Syria in November of 1956 by Ze'ev Tavor and navigator Rafael Sivron when it suffered some damage. While it made it back to Israel, the resultant forced landing effectively wrote off #90.


References:

- FIGHTING COLOURS - RAF FIGHTER CAMOUFLAGE 1937-1975: Bowyer, MJF; Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1975
- MOSQUITO AT WAR: Bowyer, Chaz;
- Assorted titles listed in the Mosquito Reference Library

All content 1996-2002 Bob Pearson & Chris Banyai-Riepl. All rights reserved.
Site design by ALGA