The Unlikely WWII Hero Made Of Wood

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Manufactured by the de Havilland Aircraft Company in the UK, the aircraft was a light bomber used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. 

It was considered the fastest aircraft in the world during that time and was helpful to the British War. It eventually earned the nickname The Wooden Wonder due to its unconventional design.  

Larval Stage

During the mid-1930s, the United Kingdom found itself in dire need of a plane that could boost its air defenses. They needed a high-speed bomber that could strike swiftly and accurately, overwhelming enemy defenses with its speed and agility.  

The Havilland Aircraft Company under the guidance of its chief designer Geoffrey de Havilland has previous success in the De Havilland Albatross, a transport plane made out of ply and balsa wood. He believed that he could apply the same principles that would create a bomber that would exceed the P1336 requirements. 

Different Visions in Mind

 De Havilland had a different vision in mind, believing that a lighter, faster aircraft with a relatively smaller crew could achieve greater success by simply outrunning enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire. 

 Thus, De Havilland opted for a predominantly wooden airframe over the usual one made of metal. He also envisioned removing defensive armaments and turrets. Not only will this make the bomber lighter but it would reduce manufacturing time too and will need fewer precious resources such as aluminum and steel that faced shortages during wartime. It also would need a crew of two- a pilot and a navigator. 


The design was met with skepticism in the British Air Ministry who questioned its durability and effectiveness. They still preferred a conventional bomber that has heavy armor and versatility that could be used for reconnaissance. They wanted more gun turrets for defense and space for a third crewman. 

De Havilland simply ignored those concerns and went on with their plans. These plans eventually gained favor with then Air Chief Marshal Wilfrid Freeman. Freeman convinced the air ministry to drop the requirements for defensive armaments, replacing them with stipulations for a high-speed light reconnaissance bomber that could fly speeds of 400 miles per hour. Eventually, the Royal Air Force and Air Ministry agreed to back the project.

The Mosquito Hatches

On the 24th of November 1940, the Mosquito took the air for the first time, and the flight was a success with only minor adjustments. Further trials proved the Mosquito’s value when it outperformed the Spitfire Mark II. 

 The Spitfire hit a top speed of 360 miles per hour, to an altitude of 19,500 feet. Meanwhile, the Mosquito reached 392 miles per hour at an impressive altitude of 22,000 feet. 

Superb Aircraft

The Mosquito was a superb reconnaissance aircraft not just because it was faster and more agile than its enemy counterparts, but also because its wooden design was so much harder for radar to detect than conventional metal frames. It also made it a great pathfinder for RAF bomber command, marking it targets for bomber squadrons with flares. 

In the same way, Mosquito B9s went on to become a key part of RAF’s light night striking force, marking small but vital factories for heavy bombers but also acting as a diversion, drawing enemy anti-aircraft fire and fighter aircraft.