Mark Huxtable's review of 'Mosquito Portfolio' by Stuart Howe

 

In his book Mosquito Portfolio, Stuart Howe probably packs in more photos per page than any other Mosquito book I've seen (be sure to check future reviews to see whether I change this view.) Although it consists of only around 80 pages, there is an average of probably three photos per page, with a surprising level of detail in the accompanying text.

Stuart Howe is a dedicated Mosquito fan - I recall reading of his involvement in helping recovering a Mossie survivor [TA122 - Andy]. Indeed, there is a special section at the end of Mosquito Portfolio detailing the locations and conditions of the various surviving Mossies. As the book was published in 1984 though, this section is more interesting as part of the historical record than as a guide to current Mosquito locations.

The book is divided into sections which roughly correspond to the Mosquito's own story - early construction efforts, followed by chapters on the Mossie's main uses: Fighter, Bomber, Fighter-Bomber and Reconnaissance. However, as the author notes in the introduction, many of the aircraft's military roles have been very well covered, in terms of the photographs available. Howe brings many shots not seen elsewhere into the book, some from private collections.

However, the author takes a similarly "as yet unseen" approach in the other sections of the book. There is a very extensive series of shots of the Mosquito in service with the various foreign air forces to which it was sold. Modellers in pursuit of material for an original treatment of the aircraft, in terms of colours and markings, will be especially interested in this section.

There is also a chapter on the Mosquito's civil uses, including aerial surveying and its service with BOAC (though one could argue that this "civil" use was one of the most critical of the war, when a Mosquito carrying a British negotiator helped "pip at the post" a similar Axis team, both sent to negotiate for Sweden's entire ball-bearing output following raids on the German industry.) There is also an excruciating, for Mossie fans, series of photos of a Mosquito being destroyed for a scene in 633 Squadron, as well as the sad aftermath of a Mossie written off for the film.

Almost by definition, this book is light on text - as the author says, there are many other fine books which do an excellent job describing the aircraft. Stuart Howe relates in the introduction that the book is his "own pictorial tribute to a superb aircraft." There is no doubt he has achieved his aim.

Although the book was published in 1984, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk both have excellent second-hand book services - follow the links on the Books page of this site.

Mark Huxtable, January 2002

 
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