THE DE HAVILAND DH-98 MOSQUITO PR IX ON DISPLAY AT THE DITSONG NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MILITARY HISTORY
Allan Sinclair, DITSONG: National Museum of Military History
The aircraft on display at the DITSONG: National Museum of Military History is a photo-reconnaissance Mark IX which carries the Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number LR 480. In June 1944 it was issued to No 60 Squadron, South African Air Force, stationed in Foggia, Italy. The aircraft was used on photo reconnaissance missions over Italy, Austria and the Balkans. The Squadron was later re-located to San Severo. During this period of service, the aircraft was fitted with new engines.
In December 1944 Col Glynn Davies, DFC, a former Officer Commanding No 60 Squadron then serving with No 2 SAAF Wing, was ordered back to South Africa. He had long wished to attempt a new record time for the flight from Cairo to Pretoria and was allocated LR 480 to make the attempt. Before leaving San Severo for Cairo, every member of No 60 Squadron signed a white plate on the starboard side of the aircraft, which can still be viewed on the aircraft today.
On arrival in Cairo, Davies was joined by Brig Peter Hingeston, the Senior SAAF Staff Officer Middle East, who was to be his companion in the attempt on the record. Their flight, however, ended in disaster at Que Que in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) when the aircraft landed on a very short landing strip and came to rest in an irrigation ditch seriously damaging the undercarriage and the propellers and ending all hopes of a record flight time.
A team from RAF Thornhill, led by Cpl, Dick Whittingham, was tasked to carry out repairs, a job which took some 20 months as no parts were available in Southern Rhodesia and all parts had to be obtained from sources as far distant as the Middle East. At the time another Mosquito from No 60 Squadron was damaged while landing at Kumalo near Bulawayo and the tailplane from LR 480 was used to repair this aircraft. In return, the damaged tailplane from the repair Mosquito was fitted to LR 480. Since no ‘PR Blue’ paint was available at Thornhill, the repaired portions of LR 480 were painted silver.
On 26 August 1946, a SAAF crew under the command of Capt P J Stofberg air tested the aircraft and flew it back to Pretoria. Before delivering the aircraft to the SAAF crew, Cpl Whittingham added his signature to the panel on the fuselage. On arrival in Pretoria, the aircraft was placed in storage at 15 Air Depot and presented to the Museum in 1948. By then it had flown a total of 219 hours.
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