Mosquito Mystery
Wed Feb 9, 2011 9:33pm

The Mosquito was a legend in RAF use during WW2.It fulfilled it`s many roles with amazing results in its various models, whether Bomber, Recconaisance, Fighter-Bomber, Ship-Buster, Night-Fighter or Rocket armed Ground-Attack variant, or in any other version.

What is not so well known is the civilian use of the Mosquito during WW2 by BOAC – the then British Overseas Airways Corporation. This came as a result of the fact that the British government had contracted with the Swedish government to buy that country’s entire stock of ball bearings, a vital component of a mechanized military in wartime. Alongside this was the need to maintain a link to the British Embassy in Stockholm , which provided essential intelligence “eyes and ears” across the Baltic into Germany – and also into neighbouring occupied Denmark and Norway .

The service started in late 1939 with British Airways Limited running flights from Perth in Scotland to Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm in Norway, Finland and Sweden respectively. These flights were undertaken using Junkers Ju-52/3m aircraft. As well as bring back the precious ball bearings, the flights also helped keep up a British “presence” in those countries as a counter-balance to German propaganda efforts in the region.

In March 1940, the service was transferred to BOAC control and after the Soviet attack on Finland and the German occupation of Denmark and Norway , only the Stockholm run was still in operation. Not only was the service of huge importance to the British, but to Norway as well as large numbers of Norwegians had made their way into Sweden and needed to be brought back to the U.K. to continue the fight against their country’s occupiers.

In 1941 BOAC established a service flying from Leuchars in Scotland to Bromma Airport in Stockholm. Flights were undertaken using Lockheed Hudsons and later Lodestars purchased in the U.S.A. by the Norwegian Purchasing Commission. These were operated in BOAC colours, but were crewed and owned by the Norwegians. While being reasonably safe during the dark winter months, Hudsons and Lodestars were very vulnerable to attack during the long Northern summer. A requirement therefore existed for a high-speed, high altitude aircraft to fly the route. BOAC approached the British government for a solution and were offered – wait for it – Albermarle and Whitley bombers! These of course, would have made even larger and slower targets than the Hudsons and Lodestars already in service and were politely turned down.

There was only one type that really made the grade – the D.H. Mosquito, which left most Luftwaffe fighters choking on its contrails and exhaust.

On the 5th of August 1942, a 105 Sqn Mosquito B.IV (DK301, GB-H) carried out a courier flight to Stockholm. The aircraft was painted overall grey and devoid of any markings. After the flight proved successful, BOAC received their first Mossie on December 15th 1942. This was a Mosquito PR.IV, ex RAF DZ411. During the spring of 1943, the first of six Mosquito FB.VI were received by BOAC, followed by another three in April 1944. These aircraft were all demilitarized – stripped of weapons, armour plate and exhaust shrouds. All gun ports and ejector chutes were plated or doped over to minimize drag. This was a speed thing after all. Initially the Mosquitoes flew alongside the Hudsons and Lodestars, but as German fighter activity increased in the Baltic, the two Lockheed twins were grounded. Norwegian crews flew with British BOAC crews and as the Norwegians were never happy with the load carrying ability of the Mosquito compared to the Lockheeds, the Hudsons and Lodestars were eventually airborne again. With the removal of all armament, every nook and cranny on the Mosquito could be used to carry cargo – especially those ball bearings. Those “lucky” enough to be a Mosquito passenger could look forward to several hours on their back, wearing an electrically heated flying suit, lying on a cot in the bomb bay with an intercom link to the pilot and navigator above and a flask of tea and some biscuits. Kind of puts budget airlines in a whole new light!

The Mosquitoes were operated by BOAC on the "Ball-bearing run" from Stockholm and Satenas in Sweden to Leuchars in Scotland. The ball-bearings, vital to the war effort were carried directly over enemy territory as the Mossie could outrun the German fighters.

Thirteen Mosquitoes were operated by BOAC, of which five crashed (not due to enemy action). They were HJ898, HJ985 and LR524 (not given civilian registrations, as well as G-AGFV, G-AGGC, G-AGGD, G-AGGE, G-AGGF, G-AGGG, G-AGGH, G-AGKO, G-AGKP and G-AGKR.

GD, GF, GG and KP crashed on landing or approach. KR went missing over the North Sea in August 1944.

A BOAC Mossie stands out – it’s quite different from an RAF Mosquito, even if wartime camouflage colours are still used. For many years it was accepted that BOAC Mosquitoes “must” have been painted Dark Green and Dark Earth over Aluminium undersides. The large civil codes were “of course” Roundel Blue with Aluminium borders. This appears to have been extrapolated from several colour photos of ex-military types such as the Vickers Warwick (looks like a bigger Wellington ) in BOAC service. .

There were apparently some RAF Mosquito courier flights previous to the BOAC ones.
"Mosquito" by Sharp and Bowyer mentions DK292 in August 1942.All markings were removed and they crew wore civvies.
BOAC used almost every type in their fleet on this route,Lockheed 14,Hudson,Whitley,CW-20,Dakota,York and Liberator.
It is almost tragic that a complete history of BOAC wartime operations was never written.

Research undertaken in the late 1990s by Nils Mathisrud from Norway using eye-witness interviews and BOAC documents has shown that the Mosquitoes were in quite different colours. To cut a long story short, the were two “official” schemes in existence: the Civil Land Scheme of Dark Earth and Dark Green and the Civil Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey. The underside colour for both schemes was nominally Aluminium, although other colours could be substituted as required. The Mosquitoes were painted in a variation of the Civil Sea Scheme. The registration codes were to be painted in Night (black) and underlined with red/blue bands on the topside of the wing and red/white/blue bands on the underside of the wings and fuselage sides. Photos of BOAC Mosquitoes show that a lighter colour than Night was used – possibly Ocean Grey or Light Sea Grey. The undersides were painted Sky with Night codes. In late August 1943 BOAC ordered two Mosquitoes G-AGGC and G-AGGD to have their undersides repainted in Night and the underside codes to be repainted in Light Slate Grey. The underside bands were to be red/blue only, although there is photographic evidence of G-AGGC with Night undersides retaining the original red/white/blue bands. In April 1944 BOAC ordered all Mosquitoes to have their undersides repainted Night and instructed that the codes be repainted Night on the wing topsides and fuselage sides, with the underside codes being Light Slate Grey. The actual camouflage pattern used was based on a BOAC pattern for multi-engine aircraft and is quite different from standard RAF patterns.

Image: BOAC Mosquito. MAP (

Mossies G-AGGF (ex RAF HJ720) and G-AGGC (ex RAF HJ680). Both are Mosquito FB.VI fighter bombers – disarmed of course! “Golf Charlie” was delivered to BOAC on the 16th of April 1943 and subsequently returned to the RAF in November 1944 after having flown some 114 round trips in BOAC service. “Golf Foxtrot” had a shorter life; being delivered on 24th April 1943 she crashed at Glenlee in Scotland after only having flown 4 round trips. The Motor from some part of this BOAC Mosquito G-AGGF is now in my keeping and no one knows what it is for. There is a electrical panel attached to a washing machine size motor.

The mystery is, what was it for?

The Mosquitos flown by BOAC on these clandestine flights were used also to carry spies or VIPs to Stockholm or the other way and as such had theur bomb-bay converted to take a cramped, cold, lonely passenger all of the way there, or back with a 3rd oxygen mask and perhaps a heated flying suit?The atomic physicist Niels Bohr was extracted from neutral Sweden, after escaping from occupied Denmark, via this method in 1943. The story goes (from Wikipedia)


Passengers on BOAC's Mosquitos were carried in an improvised cabin in the bomb bay. The flight almost ended in tragedy as Bohr did not don his oxygen equipment as instructed, and passed out at high altitude. He would have died had not the pilot, surmising from Bohr's lack of response to intercom communication that he had lost consciousness, descended to a lower altitude for the remainder of the flight. Bohr's comment was that he had slept like a baby for the entire flight.

The book "BOAC An Illustrated History" by Charles Woodley (Tempus Publishing, 2004, and well worthwhile getting if this area is of generally interest to you) has a page on the Mosquito ops to Stockholm, obliquely termed "Courier runs" ! Key points :

First trial run with an RAF aircraft (105 Sqn) 5 August 1942.
First BOAC Mosquito G-AGFV delivered 15 December 1942.
First BOAC run 4 February 1943.
Six Mosquitos delivered to BOAC April/May 1943. Others came later to replace losses.
Bomb bay lined with felt, fitted with reading lamp, air controls, oxygen supply, intercom, flask of coffee (doubtless a wartime luxury), reading material. Outward trip took air mail, UK newspapers and magazines (to counter German ones).
Leuchars-Stockholm 800 miles, took typically 3 hours.
Originally daylight flights, switched to night after attacks.
Conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent was once a passenger, so were other VIPs.
Last operation 30 November 1944.

Losses on service :

G-AGGF lost Leuchars 17 Aug 43 (This is the one I have a motor from)
G-AGGG lost Leuchars 25 Oct 43
G-AGGD lost Sweden 3 Jan 44
G-AGKR missing 11 Apr 44
G-AGFV lost Sweden 4 Jul 44
G-AGKP missing 9 Aug 44

Bomb bay lined with felt, fitted with reading lamp, air controls, oxygen supply, intercom, flask of coffee (doubtless a wartime luxury), reading material. Leuchars-Stockholm 800 miles, took typically 3 hours.
Originally daylight flights, switched to night after attacks.And people today complain about seat pitch and service on Low Cost Carriers!:)

Was the motor used in some way for this?

Tony Agar of Elvington Airfield Museum has other bits from G-AGGF and he does not know what this motor is either. Does anyone know where I can find out as I want to do a memorial to the crew who were killed flying her, caught out in bad weather and who crashed in her.

Best wishes

Paul Davies

    • Paul regarding Mossie motorJohn S, Sun Feb 13 5:16am
      Hello Paul, I can't sleep yet again. Must be the age! I was just looking on Tiger Collectables website, and there is a wind operated generator on there from a ww2 aircraft This indeed looks like a... more
      • Wind Operated MotorPaul Davies, Tue Feb 15 8:30am
        Hi John I know the kind you mean, they were usually put out into the slipstream to provide a sort of generator to restart engines or similar. That is not what this is though. It is more likely to be... more
        • Pauls mysterious motorSimon Shackleford, Wed Feb 16 11:30am
          Hi Paul, Have you tried the De- Havilland museum at Hertfordshire ( Salisbury Hall) Reckon this is another destination waiting in the wings. Cheers Simon the Dogsbody
    • MoziesWendy, Sat Feb 12 11:24am
      Thanks very much Paul, I found your Mozie write-up extremely interesting : ) Good luck with the motor info! Best wishes Wendy Ps Did you know Aces High have a signing event on Saturday 19th Feb?... more
      • For WendyPaul, Tue Feb 15 8:34am
        Hi Wendy Thank you for your comments. I would gladly be there but I am in the process of training a team so I will have to miss this. If you are going, have a good time. Please tell the WAAFs that... more
        • Aces High also on march 13thSimon Shackleford, Wed Feb 16 8:02pm
          Hi Paul and Wendy, There is another signing at Aces High on 13th March. Len Davies, Terry Clark, Ron Bramley and Tim Elkington are scheduled to attend. Also Dame Vera Lynn should be there. Cheers... more
    • mozzie swedenJohn, Fri Feb 11 10:38am
      Hi that's right, the Mozes. where All painted blue and no markings, ie roundels etc.. but still the Luftwaffe intercepted them. as they got iron ore,from Sweden.
      • For JohnPaul, Tue Feb 15 8:36am
        Hi John These were probably the earlier, or later ones. The ones I posted on earlier have camouflage. See the model kit by Mamiya on these also. I have posted images and of the actual aircraft I have ... more
      • Mosquito CamouflagePaul Davies, Fri Feb 11 8:53pm
        Hi John There were some blue Mosquitos, these were perhaps the P.R.U. variants and some other civil ones but not the BOAC ones, certainly not the one I have a part from, G-AGGF.... more
        • Found one that was Grey!Paul, Fri Feb 11 8:56pm
          Hi John, we are both right! I have found out that the first one to do this was painted Sea Grey, which can be taken for blue! On the 5th of August 1942, a 105 Sqn Mosquito B.IV (DK301, GB-H) carried... more
          • sweden-Mozzies and othersJohn, Sun Feb 13 6:26am
            Hi P. Mozzie painted grey blue. in' aircraft of the Aces. book. Sweden courier flights. didn't know about other aircraft been sent ,good info. John
            • For JohnPaul, Tue Feb 15 8:38am
              Thanks John I will look out for the Osprey book, I have 4 or 5 on the Mosquito by Bowman, Bishop and others, I will have a look in this one. Thanks once again Paul
              • aces booksJohn, Tue Feb 15 2:09pm
                yes fantastic books i got them All. and growing.
    • Mosquito Mystery 2Paul, Wed Feb 9 9:48pm
      The Mosquito I refer to above was G-AGGF hj720 in which Capt Wilkins was killed with Radio Officer Beaumont on 17/8/43. They had left Leuchars for Stockholm in G-AGGF and then radioed that they were... more
      • Mossie motorJohn S, Sun Feb 13 5:24am
        Hello again Paul, Afraid still can't sleep. This story of your Mosquito motor is still going around in my head. Have you ever considered that the component may not have been a part of the aircraft... more
        • For John S.Paul Davies, Tue Feb 15 9:01am
          Hi John That is possible. It seems to have quite a strong box, like the metal back box of an electrical socket. It is quite large and heavy and looks as if it was bolted to some other equipment... more
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