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Feature – Mosquito flies again

Photo: Photo by Gavin Conroy.

 

…And Then There Were Three

Gavin Conroy details the journey of the latest Mosquito rebuild to take flight from the Avspecs hangar in Ardmore, New Zealand

 On January 13 this year, DH Mosquito FB.VI PZ474 became airborne for the first time since the 1950s, being the third airworthy ‘Mossie’ rebuilt by New Zealand’s Avspecs and Mosquito Aircraft Restorations. It’s a feat that until just a few years ago many thought almost impossible. This latest FB.VI will soon be delivered to its new owner, the US-based collector Rod Lewis.

The Early Years

Mosquito PZ474 was delivered to New Zealand in a very sorry state, as it had languished outside in the USA for many years. After being asked by Rod to source a Mosquito project, Avspecs boss Warren Denholm considered PZ474 as an airframe ripe for restoration. Discussions began in late 2013 between Warren and Jim Merizan, who was then the owner of PZ474, about the possibility of him selling the airframe to Avspecs to be restored. Simon Brown, of Platinum Fighter Sales, was instrumental in forging a relationship between Jim Merizan and Warren, essential for the coming negotiations. Jim had a strong attachment to the aircraft and took some persuading to sell it.

In February 2014, Warren and one of his senior engineers at Avspecs, Derek Smith, travelled to Jim’s facility in Chino, California, to ‘package’ the aircraft for shipping to New Zealand. Some of PZ474’s parts had gone missing when it was parked, derelict, at Whiteman Airport, near Burbank, Los Angeles. Matt Jackson, a corporate pilot who looked after the P-51D Mustang owned by actor Tom Cruise, knew of some Mosquito parts that were at Whiteman and put them in touch with a man who had them. Warren and Derek found him and discovered that he had the spinners and side cowlings hanging as decorations in his hangar. Warren duly purchased the components and loaded them into the container with the rest of the project.

The two Mosquitos to fly previously in New Zealand (KA114 and TV959) required new-build wings and fuselages; the ravages of time made restoration of the original items impossible. It was the same situation for PZ474, so Glyn Powell of Mosquito Aircraft Restorations got to work on building the airframe, while Warren and his team at Avspecs scoured the world for parts they would then repair/restore. What they could not find would need to be built from scratch…

The rest of this feature can be read in the current FlyPast, in UK shops now, or available at www.flypast.com

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