DE HAVILLAND MOSQUITO Owners’ Workshop Manual – Review by Mark Barnes

1940 Onwards (all marks)
Owners’ Workshop Manual
By Jonathan Falconer and Brian Rivas
Published by Haynes PublishingISBN: 978 0 85733 360 5

Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online

I’ve seen a number of these aviation themed manuals from Haynes and have loved all of them. But I’m here to tell you that this latest addition to the fleet is, for me, by far the best of all of them thus far.

I don’t know where to start, really. It has everything – construction, testing, operations, maintenance, movie stardom, the survivors – you name it, it is here. There’s even a Giles cartoon I wish I had on my wall.

The Wooden Wonder is presented in just the right way; as the instant marvel that it was. There is something about the Mosquito that makes the hairs on the back of your neck twitch and I remember the couple of occasions I saw one fly and wish I’d got a decent snap of the moment. Tough luck!

The authors are clearly steeped in aviation history and have produced a number of books I have to seek out. But, thankfully, I have this one to keep me entertained. Like all the books in this series you can pick up and graze at your hearts content. The text is sharp and easy to read and a book as entertaining as this one should provide lessons to anyone attempting something similar. I was chatting with an author friend recently and he described how so many aviation books have all the detail but often come across as arid reads spoiling the overall effect. No fear here.

The film section casts an inevitable eye on that beloved old chestnut 633 Squadron. I first saw it just a short time after the Magnificent Seven and will forever link them for reasons mostly undefined, but they have something of the 1960s when there was a last flush of traditional war films and westerns we have a real nostalgia for these days. It had it’s daft bits, but all those real Mossies flying about make it a classic. I’ve never been so sure about its sister Mosquito Squadron. My brother in law is always pointing out the Land Rovers and an alleged Ford Transit sneaking into view. It was on the telly the other day and is a pale shadow of the more famous movie.

Cinema aside, the Mosquito remains a giant of Britain’s aviation heritage and I am impressed and obviously saddened by the authors’ emphasis on why they have nearly all gone. You’d have to travel a long way Down Under to see one fly. Rust may never sleep, but wood fairs even worse and they simply could not survive in numbers given their construction. The section dealing with production and the role of small furniture manufacturers is excellent. It is a monument to them. Their craftsmanship was immense and so much of it is lost today, not so much for planes, but for humble things the Ikea generation take for granted. For the wartime joiners and carpenters the De Havilland 98 Mosquito was the icing on their professional cake. God bless ‘em.

The erks who kept them flying are not ignored and this is another strength of this book. The aircrew are known to us and we admire them immensely. Here you can read what it was like keeping all that timber airworthy. I’ve sold you a lie there – because there was much more to the Mossie than wood. But it’s how we define her and why not stick with the programme?

So, where do we go next? I’m keen to know. If Haynes can match, let alone improve on the standard of this gem, they will have done well. Put it on your list.

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Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.