The full restoration of a de Havilland Mosquito to airworthy status
Subject to completion of funding and the conclusion of an agreement between all parties, The Mosquito Pathfinder Trust have selected the airframe of NZ2308, built to date by Glyn Powell, to be completed and returned to airworthy status before bringing the aircraft to the UK. The aircraft is 50 percent complete in its current state, with fitting-out to be commenced once the project is underway. The project will be completed by Avspecs in New Zealand, with Design Authority Oversight being provided by Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC) based at Duxford, UK
The aircraft in question last served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and carried the RNZAF serial number 'NZ2308'. It was originally manufactured at Bankstown near Sydney, one of 212 Mosquitoes produced for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by the Australian Division of the de Havilland Aircraft Company. These were based upon the British Fighter Bomber Mk.VI (FB.VI) variant and received the local designation FB.40. A number of FB.40 sub-variants were developed, six being converted into PR.40 photo-reconnaissance aircraft, 28 into PR.41's (a post-war photo-reconnaissance adaption equipped with American built two-speed, two-stage supercharged Packard Merlin 69 engines) and 22 into T.43 dual control trainers powered by US built Packard Merlin 33's. NZ2308 was originally laid down at Bankstown as an early production FB.40 and allocated the RAAF serial number A52-20 but was later modified to T.43 configuration and re-serialled A52-1054. The British Trainer version of the Mosquito was the T.III, a direct conversion of the F.II airframe but minus all armament. Strictly speaking the T.43 was not the Australian equivalent of the T.III, being more akin to a production trainer version of the FB.VI had such an aircraft existed. As a conversion of the FB.40 airframe, the T.43 retained the latter's bomb bay and, on some examples, the four nose machine guns. There were other significant differences to the T.3 including a re-designed cockpit instrumentation layout, dual elevator trim tab controls plus the installation of 75-Watt generators and Australian AT5/AR8 radios.
Visually, in contrast to the B.IV, the T.43 can be identified by its flat windscreen and ‘solid’ nose, some examples (including NZ2308) featuring 4 nose mounted .303” machine guns as per the FB.VI, FB.21, FB.26 and FB.40. Additionally, like all fighter airframe related variants, the cockpit entrance door was located on the starboard side of the nose.
Delivered to the RAAF in the summer of 1946, A52-1054 entered storage with 3 Air Depot at Archerfield in Queensland on October 18th that same year. During its time with the RAAF A52-1054 would amass less than twenty hours flying time. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, plans were under way to acquire a new type of strike aircraft to replace those supplied during the Second World War. In line with pre-war policy, standardisation of types in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) again became practice and the Mosquito FB.VI was selected, some 80 examples being ordered from the UK (enough to equip three squadrons). It was decreed that the Mosquitoes would be flown out to New Zealand by a mix of RAF and RNZAF crews. Therefore, as RNZAF personnel would be involved in the ferry flights, conversion training became a high priority. To satisfy this need the RNZAF took steps to acquire Mosquito trainer variants and eventually purchased eight surplus examples from the RAAF. These consisted of four T.III's and four T.43's, each being bought at a unit cost of A£3000. A52-1054 featured among the T.43's and was flown to New Zealand in four hours by Flt Lt R.K. Walker and Flt Lt F. Whiteley on June 13th 1947.
Upon arrival A52-1054 received it's allotted RNZAF serial NZ2308 and was brought on charge at Ohakea on June 25th. Due to their previous low utilisation rate the T.43's were all in excellent condition. NZ2308 subsequently entered service with 75 Squadron at Ohakea, sporting an overall silver doped finish (as per its previous life with the RAAF) with black anti-glare panel on the upper nose section immediately forward of the windscreen. In April 1949 the unit codes 'YC' began to be applied to 75 Squadron's Mosquitoes, NZ2308 eventually becoming 'YC-Z'. NZ2308's operational career with 75 Squadron spanned over four years, the aircraft taking part in numerous exercises and aerial demonstrations all over New Zealand. Its last flight took place in early 1952 when it was delivered to RNZAF Woodbourne, having accumulated a total of 479 hours, 35 minutes flying time. The final RNZAF Mosquito flight occurred on 24th April 1952, this aircraft (T.43 NZ2306) then joining the remainder of the fleet in storage pending disposal.
On June 30th, 1955 NZ2308 was among the last batch of RNZAF Mosquitoes declared surplus and was sold as scrap (through Government Stores Board Tender 6326) to the ANSA Orchard Equipment Company of Upper Moutere. It was then purchased by farmer John Morgan of Riwaka in the north of the South Island. Having been stripped of useful parts the hulk of NZ2308 languished on John Morgan's property in use as a child's plaything. There it remained until rescued by a syndicate led by New Zealander Glyn Powell. They planned to rebuild the Mosquito to airworthy condition but, confronted by the enormity of the task, one by one their numbers fell away leaving only Glyn to carry on. The challenge ahead of him was truly daunting but undeterred Glyn persisted for the next twenty years.
The remains of NZ2308's primary structure were in too perilous a condition to re-use, the only way of guaranteeing structural integrity would be to remanufacture the entire wooden airframe from scratch. However, the original de Havilland factory fuselage moulds and wing jigs were long gone and would have to be re-made. At this point most people would have walked away but not Glyn, he enlisted the help of local boat builder Chris McMullen to loft and build new fuselage moulds and tapped the best New Zealand expertise to recreate the wing and tailplane jigs. As a result, Glyn now has the capability to manufacture a complete and brand-new Mosquito airframe. The proof of all this came in September 2012 when restored Mosquito FB.26 KA114 made its maiden flight from Ardmore aerodrome in Auckland. The entire wooden airframe of KA114 has been manufactured by Glyn and following fitting out by the Avspecs Company KA114 became the first Mosquito to fly since the loss of T.3 RR299 in July 1996. NZ2308's airframe is now complete and like KA114 has been manufactured strictly in accordance with original de Havilland drawings and build standards. A number of improvements have been introduced to the original design including superior adhesives and airframe strengthening modifications, all designed to enhance the safety and longevity of the structure. NZ2308's airframe has now reached the fitting-out stage, but much work remains to be done including the installation of flying controls, undercarriage, engines and propellers.
The Mosquito Pathfinder Trust seeks your help in returning this magnificent aircraft to the skies and bringing a flying de Havilland Mosquito to the UK once again.