She was fast. She was unarmed. Her lines were clean and free of obtrusions and turrets. She was built with non-strategic wood. She hauled twice the weight the designers envisioned and at an altitude few could reach. She flew in the face of every doctrine held sacred by the Royal Air Force in 1938. A private venture of the De Havilland Co., this high-altitude, high-speed unarmed bomber was named the Mosquito, and it flew for the first time on November 25, 1940. Built entirely of wood, she remained the fastest aircraft in Bomber Command until 1951. This replica is based on a type flown by 692 Squadron, No. 8 Group in 1944. Moncton Express III, the third and last aircraft to bear this name, was flown by Flt. Lts. Andy Lockhart and Ralph Wood during their 50 missions between July and November 1944. The Mk XVI is instantly recognizable by its enlarged bomb bay (capable of hauling a 4,000-pound cookie bomb), clear Plexiglas nose and a two-piece windscreen. It did not carry armament; instead, it relied on speed, altitude and more speed to evade hostile fighters. Partial pressurization and two-stage supercharged Merlin-E 76/77 engines allowed the Mossie to routinely operate in the thin air above 40,000 feet.
At 1:32 scale, Corgi’s Mosquito B Mk XVI is big (15.5 inches long, 20.25-inch wingspan) and nicely detailed. The airframe is complete with a retractable main gear and tailwheel. Landing lights are depicted with clear lenses in the retracted position. The control surfaces are functional; the flaps extend and retract. The side cowlings on each Merlin are removable. The crew hatch opens, and the aircraft has an external ladder. Radiator flaps open and close. The bomb-bay doors open, and the included cookie bomb may be displayed in the bomb bay (held in place with magnets) or on its trolley. Two ground-crew figures and a pilot and navigator (seated in the aircraft) round out the package.
Showing the colors The aircraft’s overall finish is excellent. This specific variant was painted in flat Olive Green with Gunmetal Gray on the upper surfaces and Dove Gray on the undersides. The interior fuselage, as seen through the cockpit and clear nose, is painted with zinc chromate and Dove Gray with black junction boxes. Many of the earlier Mosquitos featured a black lower fuselages while the Mosquito F Mk IIs were dedicated night fighters and came entirely in matte black camouflage. The control surfaces are articulated but not connected. The flaps are split into inboard and outboard sections necessitated by the longer engine nacelles of the later variants. On my aircraft, the portside inboard flap will not extend to the full down limit. The rudder, which is made of fabric on the real aircraft, moves port and starboard freely. The vertical stabilizer and rudder had a small surface area, so the Mosquito required a skilled pilot in a single-engine scenario. The stabilizer and elevators are scaled correctly and articulate up and down, as do the ailerons. The Mosquito’s roll rate was reported to be excellent, aided by its control wheel, which gave the pilot a slight mechanical assist in hard maneuvering. The placement of the elevators made for very sensitive pitch (pilots could overstress the aircraft structure in a hard-G pull-up). The surface detail on the aircraft matches the schematics, seam lines, fuel covers and cowlings. Trim tabs are evident as are the various fairings. Interestingly, Corgi chose not to model an antenna or antenna mast. The rest of the aircraft’s surfaces are smooth and rivet-free, and that is one of the factors that make this such a beautiful model.
The B Mk. XVI was equipped with two 100-gallon “disposable” fuel tanks outboard of each nacelle. The pilot would fly off these tanks until the Merlins sucked them dry and quit (fairly common practice on larger multi-engine aircraft and one that never failed to induce heart palpitations, even when pilots had three more!).