Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys  © sbap 2015

(Aerial view Google Earth)

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum is located at Salisbury Hall, Hertsfordshire, and is a Registered Charity, staffed solely by volunteers and has a continuing active restoration program, preserving the de Havilland World Enterprise aviation heritage for future generations.

The historic site of the moated Salisbury Hall was chosen by the de Havilland Aircraft Company in 1939 to develop, in secret, the Mosquito, the wooden high-speed unarmed bomber. The first prototype (E0234/W4050), built in a hangar disguised as a farm, was taken by road to Hatfield where it made its maiden flight on November 25, 1940. With 41 variants of the type, the Mosquito became the most versatile aircraft of WWII. Here began the centre's long association with Salisbury Hall, making it the oldest aviation collection in the country.

In the 1950's Walter Goldsmith discovered an abandoned and deteriorated Salisbury Hall and decided to restore the property. He discovered the de Havilland Mosquito connection with the premises through drawings on the wall in the toilets. After some enquiries with de Havilland he also found out that not only the prototype still existed but the Company was also looking for a good home for this historic aircraft. Walter Goldmsith, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, John Cunningham, Bill Baird and a number of others, started the Mosquito Appeal Fund to provide a home for the aircraft. They managed to acquire and erect the Robin Hangar in which the aircraft is now housed.

The museum first opened to the public on May 15, 1959, being gthe first museum in Britain as a registered charity with proceeds in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. With the arrival of the Venom Night Fighter (former gate guardian at RAF Debden) and the Vampire Trainer KD452 (retired from 3 FTS at Leeming) the museum needed to expand. The latter aircraft having since been replaced by an aircraft in better condition.

The collection of aircraft grew and in 1974 the museum comittee decided to take advantage of the increasing interest in historic aircraft and purchased the land allowing room for the new additions and the erection of a suitable hangar to protect these vulnerable aircraft. The name changed from the Mosquito Appeal Fund to the Mosquito Aircraft Museum and in 1977 a company was formed to operate the museum now being known as the de Havilland Aircraft Museum Trust Ltd.

The museum has always been run entirely by volunteers which initially helped prepare the site for expansion, helped add and restore new exhibits and prepared for the construction of the new hangar to shelter the Mosquito B.35 and many other exhibits.

'The Friends of the Museum' with over 220 members worldwide has over 120 working volunteers.

During the years a variety of exhibits have joined the collection and the farm buildings were refurbished with one housing the Historic Display and another one being home to the Aeroshop and DH Engine display.

Visiting this museum gives you a clear insight of what the de Havilland heritage really means and one just can stand in owe witnessing all these accomplishments.

From the Gipsy, the Goblin for the Vampire, the Ghost for the Comet (world's first civil jet engine for the world's first commercial jet airliner) on to the Sprite and Spectre Rocket engine. A Hornet Moth, Chipmunk, Vampire, Venom, C.24 Autogiro, Queen Bee, Tiger Moth, parts of Horsa I and II gliders, Sea Vixen, DH.125 Business Jet, DH Dove, Comet 1A fuselage, Mosquito FB.VI, Dragon Rapide, Trident Two front fuselage, and of course the DH.98 Mosquito's prototype W4050 and two more TA122 and TA634…

And not to forget from November 27 to 29, 2015 the museum is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the Mosquito (November 25, 1940) exhibiting a.o. the beautifully restored prototype W4050.

The SBAP-team wishes to acknowledge the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in general and Mike Nevin in particular for the use of the texts and pictures of the Museum to complete these pages. (By Marc Arys)

Sir Geoffrey de Havilland
(text and pictures - courtesy of the de Havilland Aircraft Museum - others as mentioned)
Sir Geoffrey de Havilland on duty painting exhibited in the museum

Geoffrey De Havilland was born on July 27, 1882 in a village close to High Wicome. After a formal education he went to the Crystal Palace School of Engineering and on completion of his course joined Willans and Robinson, a firm of steam engine engineers, as a student apprentice. His next move was to the Wolseley Tool & Motor-car Company and then about a year later he left for a more interesting job as a designer with the Motor Omnibus Construction Company. It was during his time here that he developed, in his words, "an overwhelming desire to fly".

In 1908, with financial support from his grandfather, he left paid employment and set about building his first aeroplane. It was not successful, crashing the first time he became airborne due to his total lack of flying experience. Undeterred, he built another and on September 10, 1910 he made his first flight. The aircraft was so successful that it was purchased by The Government Balloon Factory, later to become the Royal Aircraft Establishment, at Farnborough, also employing his services as a designer and pilot. When changes were made to his position which ment less designing, he joined the Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) and built designs from 1914 until he formed The de Havilland Aircraft Company in 1920.

Geoffrey married Louise Tomas in 1909 and they had three sons, Geoffrey, Peter and John. Sadly John was killed in 1943 as a result of a mid air collision involving two DH.98 Mosquitoes and Geoffrey (jnr.) died when the DH.108 he was flight testing crashed in 1946, the same year that Louie also passed on. In 1951 Geoffrey married Joan Mordaunt, a lady who shared his love of natural history.

During his lifetime he received many significant awards in recognition of his work, the most notable were receiving a Knighthood in 1944 and being made member of the Order of Merit in 1962.

Until it was bought by the Hawker Siddeley Company in 1960, de Havilland controlled the company.
Sir Geoffrey de Havilland died on May 26, 1965.

The de Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd was founded in 1920, but the real starting of the enterprise was in 1908 when Geoffrey de Havilland, a young engineer on the design side of the motor industry, helped by his life long friend Frank Hearle, started to built his first aeroplane. Every part of it, including the engine and propellers, was designed by de Havilland.

The de Havilland n° 1 aircraft made its first flight and last flight at Seven Barrows near Newbury in December 1909 with Geoffrey de Havilland at the controls. The novice aircraft designer and pilot lost control soon after take-off and following structural failing the aircraft crashed bruising the pilot. The Iris built engine was salvaged from the wreckage of the first aircraft and with Frank Hearle's help a new airframe was built in the Fulham workshop. The de Havilland Aircraft n° 2 was flown succesfully by Geoffrey de Havilland at Seven Barrows on September 10, 1910.

This first machine came to grief in December 1909 at Seven Burrows near Newbury. The Iris engine was salvaged from the wreckage and an improved version followed on which, in 1910, de Havilland taught himself to fly. The Government purchased the aircraft and gave de Havilland employment at the Royal Aircraft factory at Farnborough, where he was responsible for the design of the B.E. series of tractor biplanes. Early in 1914 de Havilland left the Government employment and was appointed chief designer of the Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd (Airco). It was here that the original DH team including Francis E.N. St Barbe, Charles Clement Walker, Frank Hearle and Wilfred E. Nixon came together

The very succesful BE 2 was developed from the BE 1 and was the first de Havilland design to enter mass production. It was used widely as a reconnaissance aircraft during the early part of WWI.

When war was declared in August 1914, de Havilland was well on with the design of a two-seater pusher fighter, the Airco DH.1, which initiated the series of type numbers. It was followed by a single-seater fighter, the DH.2 and in 1916 by a tractor biplane, the DH.4 which was destined to make history. First appearing as a bomber, the DH.4 was developed for fighting, photographic reconnaissance and other functions. It was a general-duty aircrtaft with fighter performance. Highly manoeuvrable and with a top speed of 143 miles per hour, it could outfly most fighters.
In prototype form it was fitted with an engine designed by Major Frank B. Halford, later chairman and technical director of the de Havilland Engine Co Ltd. In 1917, when the United States entered the war, officials in Washington selected it for production and built nearly 5.000 of them. DH.4's carried the early U.S. airmail ; some also carried passengers. They remained in service through the 1920's.

The DH.1 was a two-seat fighter-reconnaissance aircraft flown for the first time in January 1915. A total of 73 were built for the RFC for training and home defence. The DH.4 first flew in August 1916 and was a highly succesful two-seat day-bomber. First deliveries were to 55 Sqn RFC in France in March 1917. 
The DH.4 was also adopted by the US Government and 4.846 were built in America and 1.449 in Britain.

In 1918 a civil operating company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd (AT & T) was formed by the Aircraft Manufacturing Company and on August 25, 1919 this company opened a daily service between London and Paris, the worlds first international air service. The aeroplanes first used were converted DH bombers but these were followed in 1920 by the eight passenger DH.18, the first de Havilland aircraft to be designed as an airliner.

The DH.18 made its maiden flight in February 1920 and was an eight-seat single engine airliner with the passengers enclosed in a cabin ahead of the pilot. Six were built with the first delivered to Aircraft Transport & Travel (AT&T) in March 1920.
In the early years, civil aviation met with little public support, post war military orders were practically non-existent and the industry fell upon hard times. Late in 1919 the Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd closed down but the de Havilland team, convinced that there was a future in civil aviation formed the de Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd. George Holt Thomas, his former employer, invested £10,000 towards the formation of a new company, de Havilland contributed £3,000 himself, found £1,000 elsewhere and registered the de Havilland Aircraft Company on 25 September 1920. He leased the former London & Provincial Flying School site at Stag Lane, near Edgware, for his factory.

During the first years of the company's existence, profitable business was hard to find. The cross channel services struggled on until, in 1924 the British companies amalgameted to form Imperial Airways. But in spite of growing difficulties, the de Havilland company continued to produce transports suited to current operating conditions.

The DH.18 was followed by the DH.50, a machine with which Alan Cobham made many historic flights. In 1926 the three-engined Hercules DH.66 was built for Imperial Airways.

The DH.66 was a three engined 7-14 seat airliner which first flew on September 30, 1926 with the first of five for Imperial Airways entering service to Cairo in December 1926. A total of eleven were built including four bought by Perth nased West Australia Airways in June 1929.

There had been sustained eagerness to produce a practical light aeroplane and extremely small engines had been tried, but without success. It was de Havilland's decision to break away from this line of thought and Halford's engineering of the Cirrus 60 h.p. engine from parts of the 90 Renault, which gave birth to the DH.60 Cirrus Moth two-seater biplane. The Moth first flew on February 22, 1925. It sold readily in all parts of the world, giving the company its first real success and it was this development of overseas trade which led to the formation of the de
Havilland companies in Australia (1927), Canada (1928), India (1929) and South Africa (1930).

The Cirrus Moth was a victim of its own success as the supply of war surplus engine components for the Cirrus dried up. In 1926 Halford was requested to design a new engine which became the de Havilland Gipsy. A small monoplane, the de Havilland DH.71 Tiger Moth, was built to test it. The aircraft was first flown in 1927 by Hubert Broad and quickly started breaking records. In 1928 the Gipsy engine was installed in a DH.60 Moth and it quickly gained popularity ; victory in the King’s Cup Air Race the same year helped publicity. The Gipsy Moth combined low price and practicality. It became one of the most famous aircraft of all time. Club and private flying developed with the Moth and an era of remarkable flying achievements followed, typical of which was the solo flight of Amy Johnson in a Moth to Australie in nineteen and a half days in May 1930.

On February 22, 1925 the DH.60 Moth made its maiden flight from Stag Lane and transformed the fortunes of the company with the growth of the Moth family of touring aircraft. Initial Moths were powered by WWI surplus Cirrus engines with the first example being delivered to the Lancashire Aero Club on July 21, 1925.

Numerous records were broken and many outstanding feats achieved. At the end of 1929 production was three per day with more being built in the USA and France. The original had a wooden structure but a later version was made of steel tube. This was nicknamed the Metal Moth and again was sold world-wide.

When the Gipsy engine was inverted to become the Gipsy III it was fitted in a modified wooden Gipsy Moth airframe. When the engine was improved to become the Gipsy Major this aircraft was named the Moth Major. The engine/fuselage combination continued to be produced during World War Two and formed part of the Queen Bee radio-controlled target aircraft.
The Gipsy Moth was re-designed in 1931 to meet an Air Ministry specification for a trainer for the RAF. The new aircraft combined several features from previous members of the Moth family and re-used the name of an earlier aircraft. It became one of the most famous aircraft of all time, the DH.82 Tiger Moth.

DH.82A Tiger Moth powered by a Gipsy Major 130 Hp engine. (Marc Arys)

As de Havilland and his wife were getting tired of flying in aircraft with open cockpits he designed a range of touring aircraft with enclosed cockpits. These included the Puss Moth, Leopard Moth and Hornet Moth. They were not as cheap as the Gipsy Moth but provided a higher level of comfort.

The DH.87B Hornet Moth G-ADOT was the last of the original 87A's with its maiden flight done by Geoffrey de Havilland on November 14, 1935. This aircraft was later converted to DH.87B standard. (Marc Arys)

The number of aircraft produced and encroachment by housing meant that the company could not continue at Stag Lane. In 1932 the factory moved to new premises at Hatfield, Hertfordshire. The Stag Lane airfield was officially closed in 1934 but the factory was retained for the production of engines.


The de Havilland company continued to develop economical light transports. There was the Dragon of 1932 and the even more successful DH.89 Dragon Rapide of 1934.(bottom left)
These aircraft could pay their way without subsidy. The England-Australia race in 1934 led to the creation of the Comet DH.88 a two-seater racer with two Gipsy Six engines. The Comet won the race, against stiff international competition, by flying to Melbourne in 70 hours 54 minutes.(bottom right

The all wood construction DH.89A Dragon Rapide was desighned as a short-range airliner carrying up to eight passengers. 728 were built for commercial and military use, the latter as the Dominie. (Marc Arys) DH.88 Comet racer designed for the 1934 Mc Robertson Air Race
(Marc Arys)

In 1935, arising from another lesson of the great race in 1934, de Havilland acquired the manufacturing rights for the Hamilton variable-pitch propeller and production commenced in June that year. At the outbreak of war, the propeller plants at Edgware and in Bolton were the only source of full scale production in the country and the propeller division produced the major share of all the variable-pitch propellers used on British aircraft during the war. In April 1946 the propeller division became a separate company, de Havilland Propellers Ltd.

After long drawn discussion, the de Havilland Company succeeded in 1936 in obtaining an order for a modern high speed transport aircraft, largely developed from the valuable lessons learned from the Comet Racer. This was the Albatross airliner but its development and that of the smaller all-metal Flamingo of 1938 were thwarted by the war.
The Mosquito was the company's foremost contribution to the war of 1939-45. Almost 8.000 were built in England, Canada and Australia. It was the fastest aircraft on any front from September 1941 until early 1944 and more than 40 variants were produced. In addition to the Mosquito, almost 4.000 Tiger Moths and some 2.000 other aircraft were produced, also 10.000 Gipsy engines and 140.000 propellers.

In the winter of 1940-41 het decision was made to embark on the gas-turbine engine design and de Havilland became the first of the established aero-engine builders in Britain to undertake the design of a jet engine specifically for production.
One year later on April 13, 1942, at Hatfield, the prototype Goblin ran for the first time. Goblin engines became airborne powering a Gloster Meteor in March 1943. In January 1945 the Goblin became the first jet engine to pass the Air Ministry type-approval tests. Because of the expanding prospects it was decided to form a separate company and in February 1944, the de Havilland Engine Co Ltd came into being.

The Goblin engine which powered the Gloster Meteor in March 1943. (Marc Arys)

The Vampire jet fighter, designed around the Goblin, first flew in September 1943, exceeding 500 m.p.h. and was the first aircraft, British or American, to do so by a handsome margin. The Vampire fighter-bomber saw extensive service and was adopted by more than a score of the world's air forces, while its successor, the Vampire Trainer, became the standard advanced trainer for the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force as well as for many overseas air forces.

De Havilland DH.100 & DH.115  Vampire (Marc Arys)

The Vampire, as an operational fighter, gave way to the Venom with the Ghost engine. The Venom was also developed and produced as a single-seat and two-seat naval fighter. The last de Havilland fighter was the DH.110 Sea Vixen, a transonic two-seat all weather fighter with two Rolls-Royce Avon engines and which by 1957 was in production for the Royal Navy.

De Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen (Marc Arys)

The growing demand for increased power led to the development of the larger Ghost engine. It was this engine, the first civil-certified jet engine, which introduced the development of the Comet jet airliner. The commercial Ghost developing 4,45O lb of thrust was flight tested in a modified Lancaster. A further development was announced in 1953 when the existence of a new axial-flow engine called the Gyron was made known. It was tested with reheat at 25,000 lb. of thrust.
A more powerful de Havilland Ghost engine was developed for the Venoms and became the world's first commercial jet engine for the Comet airliner. The engine was tested in a modified Lancaster and is seen flying on jet power with the inner pair of Merlins stopped.

Two years later, in September 1955 the existence of the Gyron Junior was revealed. This smaller engine, based on the same formula as the larger Gyron passed its type tests in less than a year from the date of its first run. The Gyron Junior, developing 7,100 lb. of thrust,  was flight tested in a Canberra and a Javelin before entering service in the Blackburn Buccaneer S.Mk. 1.

In 1946 the de Havilland Engine Co Ltd had established a Rocket Division for the development of liquid rocket engines, the first of which was the Sprite, designed for assisted take-off. A development, the Super Sprite, was in production as an assisted take-off engine for the R.A.F. V-bombers. A later development in this field was the Spectre. A rocket engine designed as a prime means of propulsion in its own rights, also as part of a mixed-plant combining jet turbine and rocket engines for high supersonic fighters operating at high altitudes. An assisted-take-off variant of the Spectre was also adopted for the R.A.F. V-bombers.
In 1952 it was announced the de Havilland Propellers was engaged in work on guided weapons and in 1957 the company was permitted to announce that its infra-red air-to-air missile, the Firestreak, was in production. Also that it was concerned in the development of ballistic missile.

Parallel with this turbine and rocket development, the range of Gipsy engines was continued. The Gipsy Major reached a high pitch of efficiency and in its latest form it was adapted for, use in light helicopters. The six-cylinder Gipsy Queen was produced in two forms, the Gipsy Queen 30 of 250 h.p. and the Gipsy Queen 70 of 380 h.p.

In 1956 the Gipsy Major engine was completely redesigned to become the Gipsy 215 for helicopter applications. This fuel injection engine developed 215 Hp and was used to power the Saro Skeeter two-seat light helicopter of which 77 were built, mainly for the British Army.

De Havilland's re-entry into the civil market after the war was made with the Dove. A light transport powered by two Gipsy Queen 70 engines with de Havilland propellers. The Dove first flew in September 1945 and sold readily throughout the world not least in the United States, where it was imported mainly for executive travel.
Next was the Heron in 1950. A small four engined transport with Gipsy Queen 30 engines and de Havilland propellers. Intended for short-haul branch line service and executive duties.

DH.104 Dove built as a C1 Devon (Marc Arys)
After the war the de Havilland companies in Canada and Australia set about the production of aircraft designed to meet the local requirements. In Australia the three-engined Drover (D.H.A.3) was employed in the Flying Doctors Service, whilst in Canada, other designs occupied the company's efforts in post war period up to 1958. The first, the Chipmunk trainer (D.H.C.1) was built in large numbers in Canada and England. The Beaver (D.H.C.2) was primarily intended for the bush flyer in the northern territories, but its robust simplicity and excellent performance made it popular overseas and it was adopted as a liaison aircraft for the United States Army and sold for civil use in many countries

The main civil preoccupation of the de Havilland Co Ltd in Britain in the years following the war had been the design and development of the world's first jet airliner. Work on the DH.106 Comet began in 1946. The first of two Comet prototypes were hand built in the Experimental Department at Hatfield and the first prototype was rolled out on April 02, 1949 just fitted with the port pair of Avon engines.  The aircraft fitted with all four de Havilland Ghost engines made its first flight on July 27, 1949 under the command of John Cunningham, the chief test pilot. Less than three years later, on May 02, 1952, the first jet passenger service in the world was inaugurated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C.). At the conclusion of the first twelve months of operation, during which services were operated to Johannesburg, Ceylon, Singapore and Tokyo, B.O.A.C. Comets were flying 122.000 miles per week.

The wordl first commercial jet airliner had the wings swept back 20 degrees and was able to carry up to 36 passengers at over 500 m.p.h

In the early months of 1954, after some 35.000 hours of test and airline flying, two accidents to B.O.A.C Comets 1's resulted in the suspension of services. The cause was found to be a hitherto unsuspected manifestation of metal fatigue in the skin of the pressure cabin.
An improved version of the Comet, the Series 2 with Rolls-Royce engines was produced in 1953. In February 1955 an order was placed for ten Comet 2's for use by Transport Command of the R.A.F. with the first aircraft being delivered in the latter half of 1956. By the end of 1957 the Comets of Transport Command were flying half a million miles a month on services to Australia, the Pacific Islands and elsewhere. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made her first jet flight in a R.A.F. Comet.

The next stage was the Comet 3, development aircraft for the Comet 4, a new design which was announced on March 17, 1955. The B.O.A.C. placed an order for nineteen Comet 4's. This airliner equipped with four Rolls-Royce Avon engines, carried up to 76 passengers on stages of 3.000 miles at a cruising speed of 500 m.p.h. The last Comet commercial flight with B.O.A.C. was in November 1965 and the fleet was either acquired by MSA or DAN-Air.

BOAC ordered 19 of the new Comet 4S and two of these inaugurated the world's first transatlantic service between London and New York on October 4, 1958, three weeks before Pan Am with the Boeing 707. The last Comet commercial fight with BOAC was in November 1965 and the flight was either acquired by MSA or Dan-Air.

Two other Comet variants were announced during 1957. The Comet Continental 4B designed for ecnomical operations over stages ranging from 300 to 2.400 miles and the intermediate Comet 4C, which combined many advantages of the Comet 4 and Comet 4B. In August 1957 an order for six Comet 4B's for British European Airways (B.E.A.) was announced. Olympic Airways ordered also four Comet 4B's and operated these in co-operation with B.E.A.

The short range high density version was the Comet 4B with a longer fuselage and shorter span wings. This 101 seat version entered service with BEA on April 1, 1960. Olympic Airways also ordered four Comet 4B's and operated them in co-operation with BEA.

The ultimate commercial development was the 101 seat Comet 4C with the longer range wings of the Comet 4 giving a typical range of 2.650 miles. In addition to a number of airlines world wide, Sudan Airways ordered two Comet 4C's which were delivered at the end of 1962 and were the last Comets to be built at Hatfield.

The ultimate commercial development was the 101 seat Comet 4C with the longer range wing of the Comet 4 giving a typical range of 2.650 miles. In addition to a number of airlines worldwide, Sudan Airways ordered two Comet 4C's which were delivered at the end of 1962 and were the last Comets to be built at Hatfield.

A major development of the Comet 4 was the Rolls-Royce Spey powered Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft for the R.A.F. The Nimrod was launched on February 02, 1965 with an initial order of 38 aircraft followed later on by 8 more. The first delivery was in October 1969 to 236 Operational Conversion Unit at St Mawgan in Cornwall. A total of 21 Nimrods were converted to Nimrod 2000 standards for service well into this century. (By Marc Arys)

The Museum

The Museum’s exhibit flew in 1945 as a B.Mk.35 TA634 and was one of the last Mosquitos built at Hatfield powered by a pair of Merlin 114s .This aircraft was later adapted for target-towing as a B (TT) Mk. 35.In November 1953 it entered service with CAACU moving to the HQ 2nd TAF in March 1956.Its final service duty was with 3CAACU at Exeter in September 1959 and upon its retirement it was flown to Speke Airport on the 6th November 1963 for the Liverpool Corporation to preserve in a new Terminal Complex.
The project did not happen and the aircraft became one of the Mosquitos that flew in the film “Mosquito Squadron” which took place at Bovingdon Airfield, Hertfordshire during June and July 1968.
It was last flown on 16th July when it was flown back to Liverpool by the late Neil Williams and on the 15th May 1971 it was officially handed over to the Museum at Salisbury Hall.
(Serge Van Heertum)

  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  Interior view (Serge Van Heertum) Control panel details (Serge Van Heertum)
 Offensive loading, bomb bay and original tail code (Serge Van Heertum) 

The Museum’s FB.VI TA122 was one of the relatively small numbers of variants built at Hatfield. It was taken on charge at 44MU on 10th March 1945 and issued to 49 ARF. 
It was then passed 605 Squadron at Coxyde in Belgium on 3rd April soon moving to Volkel in Holland on 25th April where 605 was re-numbered 4 Squadron on 31st August, becoming part of the 140 Wing at Gutersloh in November 1946.
In November 1948 it went to No.1 BR & SD pool and as reissued to 4 Squadron on 13th January 1949 at Whan and later Celle in Germany. The aircraft was finally struck off charge on 30th June 1950when it was reduced to spares. The fuselage was used by Deflt University for training before being moved to the Royal Netherlands Airforce base at Gilze-Rijen.
In November 1975 the fuselage was given to the Museum and finally delivered on 26th February 1978.
The wings of this aircraft are from TR 33 TW233 , recovered from Israel in 1980.
(Serge Van Heertum)

  Armed nose close up  (Serge Van Heertum) Engine (Serge Van Heertum)
  Goldsmith work (Serge Van Heertum) Fuselage RAF 605 Sqn code (Serge Van Heertum)

This aircraft is the only surviving World War II prototype to be preserved in the World.
Designed and built at Salisbury Hall, the initial DH.98 design was presented to the Air Ministry in September 1938.Development was hampered by continued Air Ministry interference who tried to impose defensive armament-two rearward firing machine guns and provision for torpedoes to be carried for a maritime strike role. However de Havilland disregarded these potential changes believing that their design for a fighter and fighter-bomber roles were the best configuration for the Mosquito.
The company suffered repeated rejections from the Air Ministry, Air Marshall Freeman was not convinced that the type would outperform a Spitfire or German fighters that would be deployed in the forthcoming war.
Finally ,in November 1938 an order to develop a Mosquito Prototype was granted but de Havilland were instructed that priority was to be given to the production of Tiger Moth Trainers, Rapide light Transports (called Dominies by the RAF) and essential variable speed Airscrews for several other aircraft manufacturers.
The Air Ministry persisted with their demands for defensive armament suggesting that the more powerful Griffon engine might permit the installation of a four gun turret without compromising top speed, but as neither Griffons nor turrets were available only mock ups were built.
Finally on 12th December 1939 a prototype was ordered, but only for a photo –reconnaissance aircraft as the then Bomber Command chief, Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt did not favour an unarmed bomber.
The prototype was to have a maximum speed of 397mph at 23,700 feet and cruise at 327mph at 26.600 feet. Range was to be 1,480 miles at 24,900 feet and a maximum ceiling of 32,100 feet.
The Dunkirk emergency held up detail design and construction as all Merlin Engines was need for fighters, and none could be spared for the prototype. Eventually Lord Beaverbrook intervened and made Merlin’s available for the prototype.
The de Havilland team at Salisbury worked through the Battle of Britain but E-0234, the bomber/reconnaissance prototype fitted with Merlin 21’s was moved by road to de Havilland’s factory on 3rd November 1940.
It was painted overall yellow and rolled out on November 19, 1940, just 10 months and 26 days after its inception.
The Mosquito prototype’s first flight was on 25th November 1940 piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland, Jr, accompanied by John Walker, designer of the engine installation.
Following a demonstration to Lord Beaverbrook and other senior Government Ministers at Langley on 29th December an order for 150 aircraft was given to de Havilland.
Renumbered W4050,the prototype reached an altitude of 22,000ft on 17th January 1941 and was delivered to Boscombe down on 19th February with camouflaged upper surfaces and yellow under surfaces for initial service trials.
On the 24th February while taxying on the rough surface of the airfield the tailwheel jammed and the fuselage fractured around the starboard access hatch. The damage was serious enough for the fuselage to be changed and the fuselage of the following prototype W4051 was used.
(Serge Van Heertum)

  Nose close up (Serge Van Heertum)  Engine (Serge Van Heertum)
   Handmade engine covers (Serge Van Heertum)  Fitting test of the brand new parts (Serge Van Heertum)
   (Serge Van Heertum)  Note the leading edge slats no more used on the productions aircraft
(Serge Van Heertum)
   (Serge Van Heertum)  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Face to face with the Mosquito's (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.112 Sea Venom FAW.22 (Serge Van Heertum)
Mosquito operations wall

(Serge Van Heertum)

  Operation Carthage, on 21 March 1945, was an air raid on Copenhagen, Denmark, which incurred significant collateral damage. The target of the raid was the Shellhus, used as Gestapo headquarters in the city centre. It was used for the storage of dossiers and the torture of Danish citizens during interrogations. The Danish Resistance had long asked the British to conduct a raid against this site. As a result, the building was destroyed, 18 prisoners were freed, and anti-resistance Nazi activities were disrupted. But, part of the raid was mistakenly directed against a nearby boarding school; it resulted in a total of 125 civilian deaths.
A similar raid against the Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus, on 31 October 1944, had been successful.
(Serge Van Heertum)

Operation Jericho was a low-level Second World War bombing raid held on February 18th, 1944, by Allied aircraft on Amiens Prison in German-occupied France. 
The objective of the raid was to free French Resistance and political prisoners.
The raid is remarkable for the precision and daring of the attack, which was filmed by a camera on one of the aeroplanes. There is debate as to who requested the attack and whether it was necessary.
Mosquito bombers succeeded in breaching the walls and buildings of the prison, as well as destroying guards' barracks. Of the 717 prisoners, 102 were killed, 74 wounded and 258 escaped, including 79 Resistance and political prisoners, although two thirds of the escapees were recaptured.
(Serge Van Heertum)

   (Serge Van Heertum)
  Some models (Serge Van Heertum) Operation Jericho diorama (Serge Van Heertum)

Some biggest models of the "Mossie" (Serge Van Heertum)

   (Serge Van Heertum)

Between 1943 and the end of the war, Mosquitos were used as transport aircraft on a regular route over the North Sea between Leuchars in Scotland and Stockholm, in then-neutral Sweden. Earlier, Lockheed Hudsons and Lodestars were used but these slower aircraft could only fly this route at night or in bad weather to avoid the risk of being shot down. During the long daylight hours of the Northern summer, the Mosquito was the safer alternative.
To ensure that the flights did not violate Sweden's neutrality, the aircraft carried civilian markings and were operated by crews who were nominally "civilian employees" of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). They carried small, high value cargoes such as precision ball bearings and machine-tool steel, as well as Diplomatic Bags. Important passengers were also carried in an improvised "cabin" in the bomb bay. One such notable passenger was the physicist Niels Bohr, who was evacuated from Stockholm in 1943 in order to join the British Mission on the Manhattan Project. The flight almost ended in tragedy since Bohr did not don his oxygen equipment as instructed, and passed out. He would have died had not the pilot, surmising from Bohr's lack of response to intercom communication that he had lost consciousness, descended to a lower altitude for the remainder of the flight. Bohr's comment was that he had slept like a baby for the entire flight.

John Cunningham corner
  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)

John "Cat's Eyes" Cunningham CBE, DSO & Two Bars, DFC & Bar, AE (27 July 1917 – 21 July 2002) was a Royal Air Force night fighter ace during the Second World War and a renowned test pilot. During the war he was nicknamed "Cat's Eyes" by the British Press to emphasize his successes and to avoid communicating the existence of an airborne radar to the enemy.
John Cunningham was born in Croydon in 1917 in the midst of the First World War. He was keen on entering the aviation industry as a teenager. Temporarily abiding his father's wishes to avoid the military, he approached the de Havilland Company and was accepted as an engineering candidate. Concurrently, he joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and became a member of No. 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron. Cunningham began his training in August 1935 and flew solo in March 1936. He received his wings in the summer of 1937. Cunningham gradually became an established test pilot, gaining a considerable amount of flying hours on different types of aircraft.
In August 1939 Cunningham rejoined his squadron, now equipped with a version of the Bristol Blenheim. His operator was Jimmy Rawnsley, who would serve as his gunner and radio operator for most of the war and contribute to all but three of Cunningham's victories. On 26 July 1940 the squadron was re-designated a specialized night fighter unit and was amongst the first to receive airborne interception radar. Cunningham was promoted to squadron leader in September 1940. In the autumn, as the Battle of Britain subsided and The Blitz began, the squadron re-equipped with the rugged and heavily armed Bristol Beaufighter.

In the night of November 19th 1940, Cunningham claimed his first victory. By the time the Blitz had ended in June 1941, he had destroyed 13 enemy aircraft and claimed three as probable victories and two damaged. After a prolonged resting period, he was promoted to wing commander in 1942. He was also appointed to command No. 85 Squadron RAF, by which time his tally had reached 16 enemy aircraft destroyed. In 1943 and early 1944 he added a further four victories, one probable and one damaged. Cunningham's combat career ended with 20 aerial victories, three probable and six damaged. He spent the remainder of the conflict in various staff officer positions. By the end of the war in Europe in May 1945 had attained the rank of group captain. After the war Cunningham re-joined de Havilland and continued his test pilot career. He flew the world's first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, in 1949. He then flew commercial jets for a time in the early 1960s and continued flying in the industry until the late 1970s. He also worked for British Aerospace as executive director, retiring in 1980. In recognition of his wartime exploits and his contribution to civil aviation he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In his retirement Cunningham was nearly financially ruined when Lloyd's of London ran into financial difficulty in 1988. He was forced to live frugally until the end of his life. He die six days shy of his 85th birthday in a nursing home. (By Serge Van Heertum)

(De Havilland archives)

Second exhibition hall

De Havilland DH.82B "Queen Bee"
(Serge Van Heertum)

   The cockpit of the DH.82B (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.82A "Tiger Moth" (Serge Van Heertum) This was a crop duster version (Serge Van Heertum)
  Detail of the spreading system  (Serge Van Heertum) Cierva - De Havilland C.24 Autogiro  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.87B "Hornet Moth"  (Serge Van Heertum) Foldable wing system  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havillad DH.53 "Huming Bird"  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  Airspeed AS.58 "Horsa" glider  (Serge Van Heertum) Wooden tubes assembly  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Inside the glider  (Serge Van Heertum) The flight control wheel  (Serge Van Heertum)
  The cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum) Close up on the dashboard  (Serge Van Heertum)
  First World War corner  (Serge Van Heertum) Great War relics  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Many interesting exhibitions De Havilland related
(Serge Van Heertum)
De Havilland was a major industry in the British aviation landscape
(Serge Van Heertum)
Ongoing works...

The Museum’s exhibit, registration G-AKDW, was built by Brush at Loughborough as Dominie Mk.I NR833 c/n 6897, and as it was not required for military duties it was delivered to Witney on 13th June 1945 for civil conversion to DH.89A Dragon Rapide, achieving its Certificate of Airworthiness on 23rd October.
It was purchased by British Oversees Airways Corporation (BOAC) the same month for lease to Iraqi Airways as YI-ABD, and on return to Britain it was re-registered G-AKDW with BEA on 25th August 1947 for the Highlands and Islands services. On retirement from commercial operations G-AKDW became a company communication aircraft on 30th May 1949 with Shorts at Rochester, who sold it to Avionics at Croydon on 27th May 1958. It was exported to Belgium on 23rd June before it was sold to Aero-Sud in France on 23rd June 1958 and registered F-BCDB on 5th November.
On its withdrawal from service it was stored at the Salis Collection near Paris, and later acquired by the Aviodome at Schipol, Amsterdam, who prepared it for display. However, they were restricted for space in the Aviodome, so the aircraft was displayed less its top wings and lower outer wings. Upon disposal from this collection, due to lack of space, it came back to Britain, and was exchanged for the Museum’s partly restored Be.2e, and arrived on 30th December 1993. This aircraft is now being restored to flying condition.
(Serge Van Heertum)

Engines corner
  Engines room  (Serge Van Heertum) De Havilland Gyron Junior  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland Spectre rocket engine   (Serge Van Heertum) De Havilland Gyron  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Super Sprite  (Serge Van Heertum)

Handley Page Victor Super Srite equipped  (RAF archives)


The Super Sprite DSpr.4 was a re-development of the Sprite application, using a significantly different 'hot' propellant technology, that of hydrogen peroxide / kerosene. Although the peak thrust was actually reduced, burn time was 2.5 times longer, with a proportionate increase in total impulse.
For simplicity, there were no fuel pumps and the tanks were pressurised by nitrogen from nine cylinders wrapped around the combustion chamber.
The Super Sprite was packaged as a self-contained engine in its own nacelle, jettisoned after take-off and retrieved by parachute. Inflatable air bags cushioned its impact with the ground. To obtain a clean separation from the carrier aircraft, the production engines fitted to the Vickers Valiant had a small canard vane at the nose, pitching the nacelle downwards on separation.
De Havilland regarded the 166 units manufactured as a standard production item, supported by their Service Department alongside piston and turbojet engines. It was the first rocket engine to gain formal type approval.
The Super Sprite project was cancelled in October 1960, at a reported total cost of £850,000.

History walls...
  The all De Havilland history, simply interesting  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
Outdoor aircraft exhibition
  De Havilland DH.104 Dove 8   (Serge Van Heertum) The Dove 8 cabin  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.106 Comet 4  (Serge Van Heertum) The Comet 4 cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havillad DH.121 Trident Two  (Serge Van Heertum) Lighted model of the full aircraft in the cargo bulk  (Serge Van Heertum)
  The Trident Two cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Engeneer panel  (Serge Van Heertum) The kitchen galley  (Serge Van Heertum)
  A part of the cabin  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.114 Heron 2D  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  Was in service by the Rolls Royce Company  (Serge Van Heertum) The Heron 2D cabin  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.104 Dove 6  (Serge Van Heertum) In colours of BFS GmBh  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.125  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)

The G-ARYC was the first production aircraft ordered by Bristol Siddeley and made his first flight on February 12th, 1963
(Serge Van Heertum)

   (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.106 Comet 1A  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  British Aerospace Bae 146-100  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen FAW.2 in 899 Squandron colours  (Serge Van Heertum)
  The Sea Vixen cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum) The dashboard and lateral panels  (Serge Van Heertum)
  GEC AI Mk. 18 radar  (Serge Van Heertum) Firestreak and Red Top  air-to-air missiles  (Serge Van Heertum)
  De Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.6  (Serge Van Heertum) De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.11  (Serge Van Heertum)
  (Serge Van Heertum)
  The international Mosquito crew memorial  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
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