In honour of F for Freddie and her crew

(r-l) Pilot F/Lt Briggs and his navigator, F/O Baker pose with F-for-Freddie at de Havilland Canada’s Downsview base in Ontario on 6 May 1945.

Between June 1943 and May 1945, one Mosquito B. Mk. IX emerged on VE Day as the  survivor of 213 sorties over occupied Europe: more operations than any other allied bomber during the Second World War. A celebrity in her own right LR503, or F for Freddie as she became affectionately known, served with distinction with 105 Squadron.

Here is F for Freddie’s incredible and ultimately tragic tale.

The article is reproduced here with kind permission from our affiliate partner The Calgary Mosquito SocietySpecial thanks to Richard de Boer, who spent many years carefully researching the story of both F/Lt Briggs and F/O Baker, as well as this most famous of wartime Mosquitoes. 

A restoration update from Calgary

Work continues apace in Calgary on the restoration of the former Spartan Air Service PR.35 Mosquito, RS700.

As Richard explains, the team is excited to be finally adding wood back on the fuselage after spending the past three years dealing with structural issues on the upper-mid fuselage area. In mid-September the team was gluing new balsa to the inner skin on the port side of the mid fuselage and hope to adding new outer skins over this area in the next few weeks.

Work is also progressing on the #1 and #3 bulkheads in the foreword fuselage. #3 was heavily modified when the original B.35 aircraft was adapted to a PR.35 specification. As a bomber variant, the #3 bulkhead would have come down only as far as the top of the bomb bay, however, when cameras were accommodated in the rear fuselage the bulkhead was extended to the lower fuselage, effectively shortening the bomb bay. The team has now stripped this extended bulkhead back to bare wood and are filling small areas where the wood was damaged.

Elsewhere, the team been completing the repair and replacement of virtually all of the ferrules in the cockpit and forward fuselage area following damage from the careless removal of equipment over the years. The CMS team is indebted to support from David Coeshall and Glyn Powell, who provided new ferrules to complete the work.

TPM’s global reach

Over the past few years, The People’s Mosquito has invested considerable time in forging close partnerships and networks with heritage organisations, museums, restoration companies and anyone associated with creating and now conserving the legacy of the De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito.

In September 2017, TPM’s Director of Engineering Ross Sharp was able to support The Calgary Mosquito Society by supplying samples of just some of the 22,300 original De Havilland technical drawings we have at our disposal. The drawings, which relate specifically to the B.35 to PR.35 conversion, should assist the team in Calgary in clarifying aspects of their conservation work.

It’s an area of collaboration of which we are especially proud and we will continue to support and share the work of colleagues all over the world.


7 thoughts on “In honour of F for Freddie and her crew”

  1. richard Leathem

    Just looking at my late fathers “Order of Photo Freddies” award – for 25 sorties in his Mosquito + a bar for another 25. Flight Lt EGC Leathem DFC at the time, later Squadron leader. I also have some of his aerial photos, an instrument from the cockpit, his flying suit and overcoat and a silk map of europe for escape (silk so it could be crushed small)

    I would be nice to send you a picture of the award but I can’t do it through your email system

    1. People's Mosquito

      Hi Peter,

      After 633, Bovingden appeared in few further films (I believe scenes from ‘From Russia with Love’ were shot there) and it was used to store aircraft used in the filming of Battle of Britain in 1968.

      In 1968, the MOD announced the airfield’s closure, and in 1972 it was shut down, although ever since, part of the runway was retained for general aviation and it remains an active runway to this day.


  2. I visited W4050 or at least a complete aircraft at Salisbury Hall in 1986 and was allowed to sit in her. I was very proud of the aircraft and those who designed and built her.My father worked at Standard Telephones and Cable in north London where in the woodworking section parts of the Mosquito were I was told…. Peter born 1940

  3. Micheal Rhian Driscoll

    I just read about the plans being recovered. Clearly this should make the restoration easier. Do you suppose they’d be good to help build any “new” Mosquitos?

    1. People's Mosquito

      Hi Micheal,

      In theory yes. The People’s Mosquito is technically what is known as a data plate restoration – we own the mortal remains of RL249, a Mosquito NF.36 that crashed at RAF Coltishall in 1949. What we are intending to do is use that aircraft identity to rebuild, but such is the nature of Mosquito crash sites, that in effect, the aircraft is rebuilt from scratch.

      The technical drawings you mention effectively represent the engineering DNA of every mark of Mosquito ever built, as well as every modification ever made to the airframe, so in theory – given the funding – we have the ability and experience with our partners in New Zealand (who have already rebuilt and returned Mosquito airframe to airworthiness), to construct just about every mark of Mossie that ever was. Exciting times! The only missing ingredient is the funds to do it, but we’re working hard on that. Every purchase from our online store, every club membership, every donation is going towards restoring a flying Mosquito to UK skies, while we continue to record, celebrate, commemorate and research the legacy of all those involved in designing, building, flying and maintaining this remarkable piece of British engineering.

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