James Pernikoff's review of a number of Mosquito books

The following is a review that James Pernikoff wrote for his local IPMS chapter newsletter of a number of Mosquito books that may be of use to the modeller.

My favorite WW II aircraft has been the de Havilland Mosquito, ever since I saw "633 Squadron" in 1965. An aircraft which spent much of its career on the deck, at nearly 400 mph, 2 smooth Merlins roaring away--now that's exciting, and dangerous!

With the recent release of Tamiya's superb 1/48 Mosquito (with more variants probably to follow) and Hasegawa's expected-to-be-as-good upcoming releases in 1/72, it should come to nobody's surprise that there has been a recent rush of new books on the "Wooden Wonder," and in this column, I'll give my views on those, in increasing order of utility to modelers (in my opinion).

First up are two volumes in Osprey's new "Combat Aircraft" series. Volume 4 covers "Mosquito Bomber/Fighter-Bomber Units" and includes the daring low-level daylight raids like the ones depicted in the movie, as well as Pathfinder, anti-shipping, and Burmese bridge-busting missions. Volume 9 covers "Mosquito Fighter/Fighter-Bomber Units" and includes night-fighter and night-intruder missions. An upcoming third volume will deal with photo-reconnaisance missions. These books are exciting reading, with good black-and-white photos and scale line drawings, but I think their value to modelers is limited by the fact that the 8 pages of color drawings in each book are limited to one side of the airplane, and the notes accompanying each drawing don't help. What may be more useful, at least to dioramists, is the 2 pages of color drawings of crewmen in uniform. These books are nice to have, but cannot be considered a first choice.

Next up is a new addition to Squadron's "Walk Around" series. These could be thought of as "poor man's Aero Details" and represent reasonably good value for money. The book features a good mix of mostly well-chosen color and black-and-white detail photos highlighting 3 aircraft: the prototype and B.35 at the Mosquito Aircraft Museum, and an N.F.II being rebuilt at the Yorkshire Air Museum. As such, both bomber and fighter variants, and early and late variants, are represented. There are even some details, such as the "saxophone" engine exhausts, that are not shown in the "Aero Details" book! There are some small isometric drawings of details, like those in the "In Action" books, but here they're in color. There are 6 pages of color drawings of aircraft, this time showing representative topside camouflage patterns, and about 10 pages of photos of Mossies in service. At about $15, very worthwhile for those who can't afford the "Aero Details" book, and still worthy for those who can.

The next book is easily the best all-around book on the Mosquito, and probably one of the best books I've ever seen on one particular aircraft. It is the first in a new series called "Modellers Datafile" published by Scale Aviation Modeller magazine. This 160-page tome is chock-full of goodies! 42 pages of history are accompanied by (rather small) photos and Squadron-style detail isometrics. This includes post-war and foreign use. 6 pages of color side-views are followed by 4 pages of color drawings showing the interior of different variants. 6 pages of reviews of all available kits (NOT including Tamiya, which was not available yet) are followed by 16 pages of line drawings of all Mosquito variants, showing differences and giving tips on converting the various kits, including part numbers of available accessories. 16 pages of color detail photos (but smaller than those in the other books) are followed by 18 pages of detail drawings from various technical manuals. 14 pages on how to build 9 different variants from the 1/48 Airfix kit (still a pretty good kit, by the way) are followed by 12 pages of color and marking notes and sketches. The rest of the book has various useful appendices, and in the back is a set of fold-out 1/48 line drawings. Wow! If you can't find it here, it isn't available, and even at about $30, this one belongs in every Mosquitophile's library. (For those of you wondering, the Hurricane will be the next book to get this "royal" treatment.)

Still, from a purely modeling standpoint, my top pick, by a very small margin, is unfortunately the most expensive, and that is the new "Aero Details" book. At about $43, you should expect a lot, and for the most part, you get it. At least, at 140 pages, it is the biggest book yet in this series. This time 6 aircraft are highlighted: again the prototype and B.35 at the M.A.M., an F.B.VI in the early stages of restoration at the same place, an N.F.30 in Brussels, and two more B.35s, at Hendon and Dayton. 72 pages of gorgeous color detail photos of these aircraft, from nose to tail, are accompanied by good captions in both Japanese and English. 13 pages of color drawings include excellent coverage of stencils and their locations and dimensions of roundels. The remainder of the book consists of 11 pages of in-service photos and 36 pages of line drawings depicting all the major variants in much more detail than any of the other books. This book may be pricey, but I think it's worth it.

Of course, some older books are also worth considering. Squadron's two "In Action" books (nos. 127 & 139) are both officially out-of-print but can probably still be found, and a large-format book by Bill Sweetman, with superb artwork by Rikyu Watanabe, is long out-of-print but is still available as a chapter in the "Great Book of WW II Airplanes" which seems to show up on sale every Christmas.

To wrap this up, you should also consider three videos. "The Mosquito Story" pops up regularly in various U.S. mail order catalogs. I purchased "Mosquitos Airborne" and "Wooden Wonder" at the RAF Museum in Hendon; you can presumably order these by mail from them; just make sure you specify NTSC-format. All are good programs; there is, understandably, some overlap, but all are worthwhile.

And on the Internet, the best Mosquito site is at: www.mossie.org [Thanks James!: Andy]. It's not the most visually exciting website around, but it is worth a look.

Enough Mosquitos already? Before you go looking for the bug spray, I think I'll back on out of here. Happy modeling!

James Pernikoff

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