1:72 De Havilland DH.98 ‘Mosquito’ NF.52; '212/C White' of 10th Sqn., Royal Egyptian Air Force (REAF), Almaza AFB, circa 1950 (Whif/Airfix kit conversion)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The origins of the Mosquito can be traced to Air Ministry Specification P.13/36 issued on 24th August 1936 by Air Commodore R.H.Verney on behalf of the RAF Directorate of Technical Development (DTD). Specification P.13/36 called for a 'twin-engined medium bomber for world-wide use'. Well, the resulting aircraft was a very fast, agile and versatile machine, with more than forty specialized variants and which saw use even after WWII – e. g. in Egypt.
The Egyptian Army Air Service was formed in 1930, and became an independent air force in 1937. It had little involvement in the Second World War, but as the Egyptian border was threatened by an Italian and German invasion during the Second World War, the Royal Air Force established more bases in Egypt. The Egyptian Air Force was sometimes treated as a part of the Royal Air Force, at other times a strict policy of neutrality was followed as Egypt maintained its official neutrality until very late in the war.
As a result, few additional aircraft were supplied by Britain. However, the arm did receive its first modern fighters, Hawker Hurricanes and a small number of Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks, and in the immediate post-war period, cheap war surplus aircraft were acquired. These included a large number of Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXs, as well as De Havilland Mosquitos and Avro Lancaster bombers. The Egyptian De Havilland Mosquitos were special export variants, tailored to the REAF’s needs. The batch consisted of 22 fighter bombers and 16 night fighters (with British-built, centimetric AI Mk IX radar), designated FB.51 and NF.52, respectively, delivered in early 1947.
These aircraft considerably differed from any former Mosquito, since they were powered radial engines, namely Bristol Hercules. The prototypes featured XVII with 1,735 hp (1,294 kW) each, otfitted with British propellers that featured a spinner. But the final serial aircraft received Hercules 100 engines, rated at 1.800 hp (1.324 kW) and optimized for tropical climate, as well as spinner-less Hamilton propellers, which allowed a better cooling air flow to the engines.
The Hercules' larger engine nacelles created more drag, so that these Mosquito versions were not as fast as the late Merlin variants, but the Hercules engines were found to be better suited for the high temperatures in North Africa, and easier to maintain.
As a benefit, though, the Merlins’ radiator installations in the wing roots could be omitted. This extra space was used for additional fuel tanks, making both variants suitable for long-range duties - esp. the NF.52 with its extra fuel tanks in the unused bomb bay.
Another unique feature of the radial-engined Mosquitos was an added fin fillet, which became necessary due to the fact that directional stability considerably suffered when one Hercules failed - the asymmetrical drag became very strong.
The Egyptian Mosquitos quickly saw ‘hot action’: Following the British withdrawal from Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, Egyptian forces crossed into Palestine as part of a wider Arab League military coalition in support of the Palestinians against the Israelis. On 22 May, Egyptian Spitfires and Mosquitos attacked the British RAF airfield at Ramat David, believing the base had already been taken over by Israeli forces. The first raid surprised the British and resulted in the destruction of several RAF aircraft on the ground. The British were uncertain whether the attacking aircraft had come from Arab or Israeli forces. When second and third raids followed shortly afterward, they met a well prepared response, and the entire Egyptian force was shot down – the last aircraft being baited for some time, as the RAF pilots attempted to get a close look at its markings.
Relations with Britain were soon restored, and the continuing official state of war with Israel ensured that arms purchases continued. New Spitfire Mk. 22s were bought for the REAF to replace earlier models, and in late 1949, Egypt received its first jet fighter, the British Gloster Meteor F.4, and shortly afterwards the first De Havilland Vampire FB.5s.
These jets quickly replaced the few Mosquito FB.51s which had been left in service, mostly for ground training purposes and as instructional airframes. The NF.52 soldiered on, though, primarily for long range patrol and reconnaissance over Northern Egypt and the Mediterranean, until they'd been replaced by Meteor NF.13 in 1955 from British surplus stocks.
Anyway, the REAF quickly started to sort out any British material: After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, the Egyptian Government was determined to move away from reliance on British armaments. In 1955, under President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt began acquiring weaponry, including aircraft, from the Soviet Union. In 1957, no Mosquito was left in Egyptian Air Force Service.
Apart from Egypt, the FB.51 and NF.52 variants also served in small numbers with the air forces of Myanmar and Malaysia, the last examples were retired in 1959.
General D.H.98 Mosquito NF.52 characteristics:
Crew: 2: pilot, navigator/radar operator
Length: 41 ft 2 in (13.57 m)
Wingspan: 54 ft 2 in (16.52 m)
Height: 17 ft 5 in (5.3 m)
Wing area: 454 ft² (42.18 m²)
Empty weight: 13,356 lb (6,058 kg)
Loaded weight: 17,700 lb (8,028 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 18,649 lb (8,549 kg)
2× Bristol Hercules 100 with 1.800 hp (1.324 kW) each, driving three-bladed Hamilton propellers
Maximum speed: 330 kn (380 mph, 612 km/h) at 21,400 ft (6,500 m)
Range: 1.950 nmi (2.250 mi, 3.620km) with internal fuel at 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
Service ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,839 m)
Rate of climb: 1,740 ft/min (8.8 m/s)
4× 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon (fuselage) with 500 RPG
Wing hardpoints for 500 lb (230 kg) bombs, up to eight RP-3 25lb or 60 lb rockets, or 50 imperial gallons (230 ) or 100 imperial gallons (450 l) drop tanks to be carried under each wing
Internal bomb bay occupied by two overload fuel tanks, each of 66.5 imperial gallons (302 l) capacity
The kit and its assembly:
Ah, Egypt, land of the pyramids, the pharaos ...and a suitable home for what-if aircraft. The idea for this rather subtle whif came when I found pictures of Egyptian Avro Lancaster bombers, which had been in use during the 50ies with little success. Somehow I found their simple livery with black undersides, a high waterline and Medium Sea Grey upper sides, plus the green and white insignia, pretty attractive, though. And when I remembered that I had an Airfix Mosquito NF XIX in store and found out that the type had never been in Egyptian service, the whif project was born.
What started as a simple livery variant quickly turned into more when I considered different engines (since I plan to use the Mossie’s Marlins for another whif conversion in the far future...). I found a pair of Hercules engines from a Matchbox Wellington, together with parts of the engine nacelles and the flame damper exhaust. A perfect match for a night fighter! The resulting problem, though, were the Mossie's engine nacelles, which are much too slender for radials. Further search in the junk yard turned up engine nacelles from an Italeri B-25 - they are designed to fit under the wings and the diameter is a perfect match to the Hercules engines.
As a side note: this whif conversion is not as fantastic as one might think. Even though AFAIK no Mosquito ever carried radial engines, not even for trials or as a protytype, the I.Ae. 24 ‘Calquin’ from Argentina, a light bomber patterned after the Mosquito in 1947 as a domestic development, carried radials, but less powerful Pratt & Whitney R-1830-G ‘Twin Wasp’ engines.
The biggest consequential conversion work included the integration of the new nacelles onto the wings, which turned out to be more problematic than expected. While mounting the nacelles wet rather straightforward (just the front part of the original nacelle top sides had to be cut back and), the radials were too high to mount the flush with the wings' upper sides - I had to add a bulge on top of the wing. Fortunately I was able to implant parts from the Wellington nacelles, but the result looks rather bulky now. This is not a Mosquito anymore, rather a bumblebee...
Some NC putty sculpting was necessary around the nacelles, and the radiator air intakes in the wing roots were cut back and closed with halves from styrene tubes - simple solution. The rest was rather basic work, most of the Mosquito kit remained OOB.
As a match and a visual countre-balance, I added a fin fillet, a simple piece of styrene. It adds to the overall, more massive look - without this, the Mosquito looked quite head-heavy.
Desaster struck, though: after mounting the nacelles in place I tested the landing gear, and it was too far back - maybe by 5mm. This does not sound much, but it was more than enough to make the Mossie look rather odd! So, I had to fix this problem through major surgery and a re-design of the land gear wells and covers, moving everything forward. This was an unpleasant task, since I was more or less ready for painting... Hmpf. Anyway, the landing gear is now in a relative position to the wing leading edge (under the main spar) where the real Merlin Mosquito would have it, so the effort was worthwhile.
Another proplem occured when I wanted to use the B-25 propellers. They not only turned out to be too large, the axis' diameter would also not fit the Matchbox engines... So, after fruitless attempts to convert some of the Airfix parts, I decided to donate parts from the extra box: Hamilton Standard aftermarket propellers from Quickboost. These are actually intended for a 1:72 B-24, but they were perfect in shape and size, and the solution without spinners reduced the front bulk impression.
Painting and markings:
As mentioned above, this night fighter Mosquito’s simple livery was inspired by Egyptian Avro Lancaster bombers, with simple black (Humbrol 33) undersides and Medium Sea Grey (Humbrol 165) from above. Very basic, but it suits the Mossie well and adds to the subtle look of this whif. And I was happy to find an authentic scheme apart from silver/MNF or the typical RAF Mid-Stone/Dark Earth/Azure Blue livery, known from REAF Hurricanes and Spitfires.
Painting was straightforward and simple, as per usual only done with brushes. On top of the basic tones, the few panel lines and details were emphasized with slightly different shades of grey and some Hemp (Humbrol 64, 167 and 168). Only colorful extra are the green spinners, painted in Humbrol 172 (Locomotive Green, OOP) - rather dark, but a good match to the insignia colors from the decals (see below). A wash with highly thinned black ink and umbra acrylics added to a worn look, too.
The interior was painted with Humbrol 78 and received a dry painting with Humbrol 130 - since the cockpit remains closed, I did not put much effort into it. The landing gear was painted in shiny Aluminum (Testors), according to real life Mosquito pics I found.
The Egyptian markings come from a Colorado Decals Spitfire aftermarket sheet. The Arabic numbers on the fin come from an Iraqi MiG-21, these were repeated in white under the wings, painted by hand.
Finally, some exhaust and soot stains were added though dry-painted black, and everything sealed under a matt varnish.
So, not a spectacular whif, and the engine conversion was more work than necessary - the thing turned out to be bulkier than envisioned. But the result is quite good, it’s a rather exotic and subtle whif - a “Grey Ghost from the Nile”.