The Spitfire is probably the best known British fighter plane (the Hurricane a close second), while most people recognise the Lancaster as one of Britain’s best bombers. However many argue that the BEST British World War II aircraft is the Mosquito.
“Hang on” you’re thinking. “Why is the author of The Confident Mother randomly talking about British military aircraft?” It is my response to a challenge set in The Mindset Hub which is run by Rebecca Pintre of Artemis Mindset Coaching. Rebecca suggested setting us weekly mindset challenges … at first I was a little hesitant, a little sceptical even. “Oooh, mindset challenge. What’s that going to involve? How hard will it be? How vulnerable will I be made to feel?” Quite frankly, laughable fears given how open and honest I have been in the past with my stories of self-harm, burnout, postnatal depression and my struggle to give myself permission to be loved.
However Rebecca is a mindset coach with compassion – her first challenge was to ask yourself a question on a subject you know nothing about. The pages you skip in a newspaper. The subjects you dropped at school at the earliest opportunity. Either a short article (500 words) or a 60 second presentation, using #MindsetHubChallenge.
I decided to write about military history – a subject that bores me rigid but one which fascinates my husband. I asked him to set me a question as I know so little about the topic, I didn’t even know where to start. He suggested I explore why is the Mosquito the best British World War II aircraft. And here’s my response:
Why is the Mosquito the best British World War II aircraft?
The Mosquito is different from many other World War II planes, firstly because it was made almost entirely of wood. This unique characteristic became its downfall because, unlike metal framed aircraft, the Mosquito simply rotted away in the hangars, especially those stationed in the Tropics.
The Mosquito was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland and first went into production in 1941, as one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world. The two seater Mosquito was initially built as an unarmed fast bomber however it was adapted into a multi-role combat aircraft during and after World War II.
The Mosquito built a fearsome reputation not just as a fast unarmed and light bomber but also as U-boat hunter, night fighter, reconnaissance routes, as well as path finder on large scale bomb attacks.
The Mosquito stands out for its versatility and speed.
With only two crew – pilot and navigator – the basic dials were spread about the uncluttered dashboard. The Mosquito pilots liked its design and found it more comfortable than the Bristol Beaufighter which was its predecessor.
The use of wood in the production was a significant factor in the success of the Mosquito. Metals were in short supply and the specialists with the skills to work with metals were being used to build battleships, submarines and the shells of bombs. Whereas there was a ready supply of wood throughout the British Empire. Plus a ready supply of woodwork specialists such as carpenters and cabinet makers. Just to point out … the Mosquito is made of wood BUT with an aluminium skin. They don’t ‘look like’ they’re made of wood. (The same is true of the Hawker Hurricane).
It nearly didn’t get built
Despite its success, the Mosquito nearly didn’t get built. The British Government knew that World War II was on the horizon. In September 1936, the Air Ministry put out a tender to aircraft builders in Britain requesting a fast medium bomber, capable of carrying a 3,000 lb load at 270 mph at 15,000 feet for 3,000 miles. Most manufacturers submitted ‘heavy’ designs e.g. four high-powered engines and defensive turrets.
Geoffrey de Havilland took a very different approach. It was his genius idea, bursting with confidence, to not use metals (he realised these would get harder to source as the war progressed), and instead to construct an aircraft from alternative materials e.g. wood. Although their first designs were not accepted by the Air Ministry, they tried again and in 1939, a team of aircraft designers and engineers created the prototype that became the Mosquito.
The Air Ministry remained sceptical of the design and told de Havilland to stop working on this, and instead to focus his attention on other more pressing matters. At first he ignored their demands but in June 1940, he was asked to focus on production of the Tiger Moth trainer (used to train RAF combat pilots) and repairs to Hawker Hurricanes.
In July, de Havilland resumed work on the Mosquito, promising to deliver 50 by December 1941. He fell short of that target, producing 20 by Christmas and the following 30 by March 1942.
Mass production was ordered in June 1941. By the end of January 1942, contracts were awarded for 1,378 variants of the Mosquito plus another 400 built by de Havilland Canada.
The Mosquito truly deserves the title as best British World War II aircraft: for its versatility, its speed, and its design.
What have I learned from the Mosquito?
Incredibly, through doing this #Mindsethubchallenge, I have fallen in love with the Mosquito. Like many people, if you had asked me two days ago to name a British World War II aircraft, my first thought would have been the Spitfire. However, I am now a big fan of the Mosquito.
More importantly I LOVE the fact that Geoffrey de Havilland did not give up on his dream to create the Mosquito. He had the genius and foresight to predict the shortage of metals and workers skilled in working with metals. He KNEW the Mosquito would be the answer.
As for my mindset, I have learned that I know how to research. My husband tried testing my Mosquito knowledge last night … and guess what, I got every question right! I have discovered how important it is to NOT give up on your vision, like de Havilland. My husband LOVED that I was excited at the knowledge I gained. I have learned that I can do the most mundane tasks and still find pleasure. I have discovered that I can apply my intellect and smart thinking to any topic I desire. And that when you understand your contribution to the world, you will have the clarity and confidence to get things done, just like Mr de Havilland.
Thank you Rebecca for your #Mindsethubchallenge.
If you enjoyed this despite the fact that you came looking for confidence tips & tricks for the working mum, sign up to my newsletter here.