The de Havilland Mosquito is an important aircraft to the RNZAF. Two wartime New Zealand squadrons flew the Mosquito and the type saw service in the post-war RNZAF. The accompanying image shows four Mosquitoes of No.75 Sqn taxi-ing past the Whenuapai control tower during a public Open Day in 1951.
Designed during the dark days of 1940 and built mostly of wood, the Mosquito entered RAF squadron service during 1942. Its high performance and versatility earned it an immediate place as one of the most important aircraft for the RAF; in total some 7700 were built, including in Canada and Australia. A number of Mosquito photoreconnaissance versions and night fighters served with the USAAF under reverse lendlease.
The Mosquito was able to outrun the German Me 109 fighter. It was versatile—designed as a light bomber it had the capacity for a heavy gun armament, and was able to be equipped with air intercept radar as a night fighter.
No. 487(NZ) light bomber squadron received the Mosquito FB.Mk.VI in August 1943. Three precision raids are noteworthy: in February 1944 the Squadron took part in the raid on the Amiens prison in France, enabling over a hundred Resistance prisoners to escape. On 31 October 1944 the Squadron destroyed the Gestapo headquarters at Aarhus, Denmark and on 21 March 1945 the Squadron bombed the Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen.
No.488(NZ) night fighter squadron flew various night fighter versions of the Mosquito, the NF XII, XIII and the XXX, between August 1943 – April 1945 flying over England and later over liberated Europe.
As well many other Kiwis flew Mosquitoes in the Second Tactical Air Force, with the Pathfinder Force and in the Mediterranean theatre.
In the immediate post-war years the RNZAF purchased 85 Mosquitoes (76 FB.VI, four T.IIIs, four T.43s and one FB.40) and the type was flown by No. 75 Squadron (1947-52) until it was replaced by Vampire jet fighters.
- Crew: 2; pilot, navigator/radar operator
- Length: 44 ft 6 in (13.57 m)
- Wingspan: 54 ft 2 in (16.52 m)
- Loaded weight: 19,820 lb (9000 kg)
- Height: 17 ft 5 in (5.3 m)
- Wing area: 454 ft² (42.18 m²)
- Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Merlin 21 V12 engines, 1,480 hp (1,103 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 358 mph (572 km/h)
- Range : 1,190 miles
- Service Ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,839 m)
- Bombs: 1,000 lb (4 x 250lbs) or 8 x 60lb rockets.
- Guns: 4 × 20mm cannon & 4 ×0.303” (7.7 mm) mg