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The only "Mosquito" in the USSR

De Havilland Mosquito B.IV DK296, tested in the USSR

As soon as it appeared, the high-speed bomber De Havilland "Mosquito" became the object of close attention of both allies and opponents. The Soviet Union was no exception.

Soviet specialists were greatly impressed by a visit to the plant where these aircraft were built. "Mosquito" surprisingly combined the already considered outdated wooden structure and very high flight performance. In the fall of 1942, the Soviet side officially requested one copy of the bomber for study. The British government agreed.

In July 1943, from the group of Soviet ferry pilots who were trained in Scotland at Errol airbase to pilot Albemarl aircraft, several crews were assigned to master the Mosquito. A dual-control Mosquito T.III was dispatched to Errol for training purposes on July 22, but was destroyed during the distillation. Instead, another T.III arrived on July 27, and with him instructor Rainer, seconded from Training Unit 60.

By August 9, senior lieutenant I.D. Polosukhin (formerly a squadron commander in the 1st Transport Aviation Division) completed a retraining course. Together with him, the navigator, Lieutenant Kekishev, was preparing. In September, a ferry plane was delivered to Errol. It was Mosquito B. IV with number DK296, equipped with Merlin 21 engines. The bomber had already fought, he was released in the spring of 1942, he served in the 105th squadron of the RAF and made 15 sorties. The last of them ended with a number of combat damage and repairs in the 10th service aviation unit (workshops). Apparently, it was there that the plane was prepared for ferrying to the USSR. An additional 550-liter gas tank was installed in the bomb bay and the bomb racks and the control of the bomb bay doors were dismantled.

Polosukhin and Kekishev got acquainted with the features of the machine and carefully studied it. By October 3, the crew was ready to fly to Moscow. On October 24, we were already preparing to start, but the tube of the oxygen system burst and the flight was postponed. Throughout November, the bomber stood at the airfield due to unfavorable weather forecasts. On December 9, an order was received to take off, but at midnight Moscow was informed by telephone about very bad weather in the area of ​​the capital and the cancellation of the flight.

After that, there were many months of waiting. Polosukhin and Kekishev periodically took to the air: either on their V.IV, or on the training T.III, making flights lasting from 25 minutes to an hour, including one night (January 18, 1944).

On April 13, 1944, the long-awaited order to start in the Soviet Union finally came, but now the weather in Scotland has deteriorated. After consultation with the British meteorological service, the flight was canceled again. On April 16, Soviet pilots conducted another training flight in their "own" bomber and, finally, on the 19th, the Mosquito took off and headed for Moscow. It happened at night, at 1.34 GMT. The plane passed over the North Sea, Sweden, the Baltic Sea, over the territories still occupied by the Germans and at 4.52 Moscow time landed at the Vnukovo airfield. Confirmation of a safe landing did not reach Scotland until five in the evening.

In Vnukovo, on the basis of the 1st Aviation Division, the plane did not stay long and never took off. From April 25, he was already at the LII NKAP at the Kratovo airfield, where flight tests began. The lead engineer was B.C. Pankratov, piloted by the bomber N.S. Rybko.

During the tests, the data declared by the company were mostly confirmed. With a takeoff weight of 8850 kg, they reached a maximum speed of 580 km / h (at a 5-minute engine operation). According to Soviet experts, due to the wear and tear of the car, this indicator has worsened by about 10 km / h. The handling was highly appreciated. In particular, "Mosquito" very easily flew on one engine, performing, among other things, deep turns with a roll towards the switched off engine.

But the stability was considered insufficient in all respects. The car required a sufficiently high qualification from the pilot. It should be especially pointed out that, despite the general ease of landing, on the run "Mosquito" showed a stubborn tendency to turn to the left. This was noted by all the pilots who participated in the tests (and apart from Rybko, Major Generals P.Ya. Fedrovi and A.I. Kabanov, seconded from the Air Force Research Institute, were involved in the flights). True, M.L. Gallay at one time expressed the opinion that this tendency was not inherent in this type of aircraft, but was the result of poor-quality repair of the tail wheel strut, installed with a bias.

Rybko wrote in his review: "In terms of controllability, the Moskito IV aircraft strongly resembles the Pe-2, however, longitudinal instability, lower loads from the rudders and a greater tendency to turn left on the run make higher demands on the pilot than the Pe-2 ".

The navigational cockpit of the British aircraft was equipped with all the necessary instruments, very conveniently located, although the cockpit itself was found somewhat cramped. The downward review was also criticized, compared to the Pe-2 and Tu-2.

"Mosquito" was carefully studied by specialists from the Flight Research Institute, the Air Force Research Institute, TsAGI and aircraft factories. We were very interested in the weather vane propellers, which were still absent on serial Soviet bombers, individual units of the motor installation, a cabin heating device (we did not have them either, in the winter in the Pe-2 and Il-4 cabins it was 30 degrees below zero), modern compact devices, flame arresters on the exhaust pipes. Unlike Soviet aircraft, all wooden parts from the inside were treated with an antiseptic against decay.

From the point of view of ease of use, "Mosquito" turned out to be beyond praise. We have written a lot of paper, talking about the excellent interchangeability of parts and assemblies, convenient access to all main units, the speed of their replacement if necessary. Many automatic devices made it easier for the crew to work in flight.

May 15 Kabanov with navigator P.I. Perevalov on board ferried the Mosquito to the airfield of the Air Force Research Institute, where they were going to continue testing. But on landing, the pilot lost control, the bomber turned to the left, went off the runway onto the ground, demolished the landing gear and crawled on its belly. The crew was not injured, but the car was hopelessly damaged and was no longer recovered.

A thorough study of the Mosquito design was aimed at determining the possibility of its licensed construction in the USSR. This issue was raised at a meeting of the State Defense Committee on April 21, 1944, almost immediately after the arrival of the vehicle in our country. According to its flight data, the British bomber was somewhat superior to the domestic Pe-2 and Tu-2, especially at high altitudes. His glider was made entirely of wood, like many Soviet aircraft. Our technology for the production of wooden structures was well established.

However, according to the conclusion of TsAGI specialists, the very design and aerodynamics of the aircraft did not demonstrate anything fundamentally new. All this was already known. High performance was ensured primarily by careful manufacturing (including surface polishing), the use of a light and durable three-layer sandwich construction with an inner layer of balsa and excellent Merlin motors in the cladding. The last two circumstances completely buried the venture with the production of "Mosquito" in the USSR.

It was not possible to ensure the import of balsa in large quantities. There were no substitutes for it among the domestic varieties of wood. The sad experience of the American company "Packard" was already known about engines. "Merlin" was distinguished by high precision of manufacturing of parts, meticulousness of assembly and adjustment. The Americans, who had much greater capabilities in terms of machine tools, tools and materials, had to import them to England not only engineers, but also part of the workers. Only after that did they manage to ensure the required quality. The release of "Merlins" in the USSR was also considered unrealistic. The motors imported from England were barely enough to replace those worn out on the Hurricanes and Spitfires, since they did not consistently develop the required resource in our country.

Our specialists really wanted to get acquainted with the later modifications of the Mosquito with engines of types 61 and 72, but they could not even get samples of them, although the question of obtaining such bombers was raised repeatedly, starting in August 1943. They were asked to include them in III delivery protocol. And in the proposals for Protocol IV (for 1944-45), the Soviet side demanded neither more nor less - 1200 Mosquito. But this was prevented by the veto of the British Air Ministry, which referred to the insufficient saturation of the British Air Force with new bombers.

The only "Mosquito" that got to the USSR after the accident was dismantled into separate units, distributed to various organizations for study. But the influence of acquaintance with him on the Soviet aircraft industry was quite large. The concept of a high-speed bomber without defensive weapons has become very popular in our country. Experimental aircraft Pe-2I by V.M. Myasishchev and A.N. Tupolev were advertised as "Soviet" Mosquitoes, which structurally had nothing to do with their British prototype.


  • Aviation №3 / Vladimir Kotelnikov /