Wood from around the globe made the de Havilland Mosquito

The de Havilland Mosquito was a global work of wood. Balsa from Ecuador, European ash, Pacific Northwest Douglas fir and West Coast sitka spruce all helped create the plane. (Flying Heritage Combat Armor Museum photo)

We all know the de Havilland Mosquito was made mostly of wood, but the whittler in me wants to know what kind. “Which wood?” isn’t an accurate question. “What kinds of wood?” fits the bill better.

De Havilland couldn’t get everything required from the British Isles. They had to conduct a world tour to get the materials they needed to construct their prized “aerial lumberyard.”

First stop, Ecuador for balsa. Light, squishy, Ecuadorian balsawood (that’s Ochroma pyramidale) makes up the middle of our plywood sandwich used on the exterior of the plane. The harder outer and inner layers of the plane’s skin are 3-ply birch (Betula) which was harvested in the UK, upper American Midwest, and in Canada.

European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), good for baseball bats, tool handles, and walking sticks, came almost exclusively from the UK and made up light, strong structural members. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), found in the rainy upper American West Coast and into British Columbia made up other pieces of the plane’s “skeleton” including many of the Mosquito’s stringers.

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), found from Alaska to Northern California, nearly always along the coastline, is light and strong. Spruce is often used in boat-building, ladders, guitar components, and of course, airplanes. Spruce made up the Mosquito’s famous multi-layer laminated wing spar.

You can come and see this whole magnificent timber yard, flying in very close formation, when the de Havilland Mosquito takes to the air at Flying Heritage Combat Armor Museum’s SkyFair, July 22, proving, once and for all, some of the best things around do “grow on trees.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Low-cal craft beer becomes vital during the quarantine

Don’t reach for the Michelob Ultra Light just yet. We tasted 18 beers and picked the winners and losers.

Jump on the everything bagel bandwagon with this zesty salad

If Whole Foods is sold out of the seasoning mix, relax — you can make it yourself.

Need a fun weekend quarantine project? Try citrus marmalade

The preserves are as delicious spooned on toast as they are over grilled pork or chicken.

2020 Nissan Altima is quiet, comfortable, and fuel efficient

One year after a complete redesign, more safety features have been added to lower-cost models in lineup.

Rick Steves on Pompeii, Italy’s frozen-in-time Roman city

The volcanic ash that destroyed the city also ensured its remarkable preservation, down to the folds on victims’ togas.

Ask Dr. Paul: Adjusting to the new normal with COVID-19

Here are some tips to help you embrace and cope with our new way of living in a pandemic world.

Keep frozen bay scallops on hand for a sweet quarantine dinner

The dish can be ready to eat in less than 15 minutes — even including the time to defrost the shrimp.

Traveler wants full refund after virus halts flight to Vegas

Southwest Airlines agreed to a refund, but didn’t include the EarlyBird option that he paid for.

Local Girl Scouts adapt to the pandemic by scouting at home

The coronavirus isn’t stopping these Snohomish County girls from earning badges and awards.

Most Read