This node was created to give a bit of background on the creator of one of the most beautiful planes ever made, the De Havilland Mosquito
The man with the plan was Geoffery De Havilland, the Uncle of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine. By the time of The Second World War he, and his family had been building planes since the year 1908. Born in 1882, in Haslemere in Surrey, Geoffery was fascinated by the all new machines appearing. As a young man he designed and built several machines including steam cars and motorcycles. However it was aircraft that really seemed to capture him. After graduation from the Crystal Palace Engineering School it was planes that he decided to do.
In 1908, with the help of £1000 from his Grandfather, he started on his first aircraft. In 1910 it was finished. With De Havilland himself at the controls he took off from Crux Easton. After almost two years work Geoffery was flying. 100 feet later he crashed the aircraft. Undeterred, De Havilland continued the project and his second aircraft, the FE-1, was purchased by the War Office that same year, for the princely sum of £400.
After that success De Havilland was on a roll, his next plane, the BE-2, was quickly adopted by the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. It was the standard machine for the Corp as they entered The First World War. Continual evolution enabled it to still be in active service as the war drew to a close. Though it was no longer a front line craft it was still used against Zepplin raids, and as a U-boat spotter. It was also the Corps main pilot trainer.
Even as the BE-2 was in action De Havilland had already designed his next plane for the war effort - the Airco DH-1. A two seater bi-plane that was quickly developed into a single seater fighter. Though very manouverable it was slow, and as more modern German aircraft came into play it was quickly withdrawn. The Airco DH-4 came next, widley regarded as the best single-engine bomber of The Great War.
The Airco DH-4 was fast, over 100 mph, and could fly very high, over 23,000 feet. The German aircraft were not very effective at these heights and the DH-4 was able to go on missions unescorted. The air-crews were not so happy about this plane and nicknamed it 'The Flying Coffin', due to the fuel tank being between the pilot and the gunner. This meant that a stray bullet could easily take out both of them.
After the war De Havilland left the Aircraft Manufacturing Company, when it folded in 1920, and started his own company, with the not so subtle name of The De Havilland Aircraft Company. He turned his back on military aircraft, stopped being the chief test pilot of his own aircraft, and looked to the private sector. The company was quite successful producing private planes, and with their own modified Renault engine from war surplus stocks they came up with the Moth series, including the perennial favourite trainer - the Tiger Moth. He also produced the stunning DH-88 or Comet.
The first Comet, built in 1934, was not the more famous passenger jet liner, but a long-range, twin-engined, racing monoplane. It was revolutionary, containing things that no British plane had before. It had retractable undercarriage - wheels - and wheel brakes. It was a plywood design, and represented a step away from the boxy biplane era. It won The Britain to Australia Race, and quickly racked up records concerning long-distance flights.
As the 1930's drew to an end De Havilland's designs got bigger and better, the monoplane was in big time, and large passanger airliners started to be built. De Havilland was right there, his experience with his smaller, biplane, Dragon family of aircraft proved invaluable in producing such monoplane passanger carriers as the DH-91 Albatross. The Albatross was a huge machine, for the time, with a wingspan of 104 feet. Able to carry 22 passangers in abundant luxury, and, with all the beauty that De Havilland was able to invest in his aircraft, it became very popular.
The Second World War was no time to slack and De Havilland set up The De Havilland Engine Company, exploring the possibilities of jet engines. His first engine, the Goblin, was used in his first jet fighter, the DH-100 Vampire - which just missed out on action in WWII - and it powered the Mk II Meteors. It was also one of the engines sent over to Lockheed in the US, allowing them a leg up. However, it was the De Havilland DH-98 Mosquito which is remebered, the most versatile and beautiful aircraft produced in the Second World War. For his continuing contributions to aviation and the war effort in 1944 Geoffrey de Havilland became Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.
All the practice with jet-turbine power allowed De Havilland to produce the first commercial jet airliner - The DH-106 Comet. A fantastic success, carrying passangers at over 500 mph at an altitude of 33,000 feet. However innovation had its price. Several crashes got the Comet pulled, and by the time the investigations were finished, three years later, other companies were finishing off their technologically superior beasts. Though confidence in the Comet never recovered, the military version still flies today, under the name Nimrod.
Financial problems, caused in part by the Comet, meant that to survive the company had to merge with Hawker-Sydney in 1961. Geoffrey retired then and four years later died peacefully in London. Even today his aircraft have a distinctive grace to their lines, and many are still flying. Even today, or maybe especially today - when everything is predigested pap of extremely similar design - they have a large following among aircraft nuts.