Marten Richens told me about that documentary, but it was not available to viewers outside the U.K.
Channel 4 Paralympics presenter, former Royal Marines Commando and qualified pilot Arthur Williams presents this love letter to the World War II aeroplane he believes history has unjustly forgotten.
While the names Spitfire, Lancaster and Hurricane have passed into legend, the De Havilland Mosquito languishes in relative obscurity. But, for Arthur, the ‘Wooden Wonder’ is the plane that saved Britain.
He meets the men who flew it, tells its extraordinary story and travels to Virginia Beach in the USA to see if he can take to the skies in the world’s only remaining airworthy Mosquito.
In September 1942 this top-secret experimental aircraft carried out one of the most daring raids of World War II. In broad daylight and with unprecedented accuracy four new Mosquito planes bombed the Gestapo headquarters in Nazi-occupied Oslo. It was a stunning, audacious success, which shocked Germany.
Unlike every other plane of its time, it was made of plywood, by cabinetmakers across southern England, who were more accustomed to turning out table legs and chairs. Its light weight made it the fastest plane the British had ever produced: a brilliant design and engineering success achieved in the teeth of RAF scepticism.
The Mosquito became the most versatile, safest, and in-demand plane of the war. Without its efforts guiding heavy bombers accurately to their targets, the Allied bombing campaign over Europe might never have worked.
It also hit U-boats in the North Atlantic and brought down Luftwaffe fighters in air-to-air combat. Arthur hears it all from men who took part in these perilous missions.
After the war, the wooden frame that had been the Mosquito’s greatest asset in combat became its undoing. Most Mosquitoes rotted away in their hangars, and the memories went with them.
And, in 1996, the last Mosquito to fly fell out of the sky at an airshow, killing its crew. Since then, there have been no flying examples left in the world. But American millionaire Jerry Yagen has spent eight years rebuilding what is now the world’s only airworthy Mosquito: a plane Arthur is desperate to fly.
Arthur travels to Virginia Beach in the hope getting up in Yagen’s plane, experiencing the power of the Mosquito first-hand and helping to rescue this amazing machine from obscurity.