The De Havilland Mosquito ("The Wooden Wonder", also known as "The Timber Terror") was a military aircraft that excelled in a number of roles during World War II. It was a twin-engine aircraft with the pilot and navigator sitting side by side. Unorthodox in design, it used a plywood structure of spruce and balsa in a time when wooden construction was considered outdated. It was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
The Mosquito was conceived as a fast day bomber that could outrun fighter defences and hence dispensed with defensive armament; however, owing to its speed, agility and its exceptional durability due to its wooden design, it was also used as a fighter. The fighter versions used a flat windshield to aid sighting. Its various roles included tactical bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike or photo-reconnaissance aircraft. It served with the RAF, RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF, USAAF and Israeli Air Force, plus the air forces of Belgium, Burma, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Sweden, Turkey, Yugoslavia and the Dominican Republic.
During much of the war the Mosquito was one of the fastest aircraft in the sky on either side, and one of the most manoeuvrable - in mock combats it could climb faster and turn more quickly than a Spitfire. The Mosquito inspired admiration from all quarters:
"In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy.
The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that?
There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I'm going to buy a British radio set - then at least I'll own something that has always worked." Hermann Goering.