I was delighted to be reminded on the Watford Observer’s nostalgia page that the de Havilland prototype mosquito made its maiden flight this week 80 years ago. It was such a shame the de Havilland Museum in London Colney was not allowed to open its doors to the public because of the virus.
Personally, I was very disappointed that I couldn’t see the prototype of the mosquito W4050 being brought out of its hangar so that I and others could celebrate the 80th anniversary of the maiden flight of the prototype mosquito W4050. Due to the virus, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the de Havilland Aircraft Company, which built mosquitoes between 1941 and 1947, also went unnoticed under the radar.
It was also such a shame that this wasn’t marked. Geoffrey de Havilland founded the de Havilland Aircraft Company on September 25, 1920. The pioneering aviator and the aircraft company he founded in 1920 are one of the most important aviation success stories of the 20th century. From the most cautious beginnings, one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers grew. Locally, we benefited in many ways from the fact that de Havilland set up and then opened two factories in Leavesden and Hatfield. The de Havilland mosquito was the world’s first multi-role fighter aircraft during World War II.
The “Mossy”, as it was affectionately known, was called “the wood miracle” because of its wooden construction – birch trunks from Canada were used as a layer along with ashes from nearby Whippendell Woods. When the locals saw mosquitos flying over Watford, it soon became a habit for the locals to remark, “There’s still a stretch of Whippendell Woods”.
Between 1942 and 1945, a total of 1,390 mosquitoes were rolled out in Leavesden’s hangars. The local men and women of this area, but especially women, are to be adored and admired and respected for their remarkable achievement in building this number in such a short time. Even with modern techniques and technology, I very much doubt that today’s aircraft manufacturers could produce this number of aircraft in such a short time.
Gammons Lane, Watford