Mark Huxtable's review of 'Mosquito' by Bill Sweetman and Rikyu Watanabe


It is hard to know how precisely to class Mosquito, by Bill Sweetman and Rikyu Watanabe. "An illustrated book" doesn't really do justice to what awaits the reader on these pages. Although it sounds overblown, one would not be too far off putting this volume into the "work of art" category.

Indeed, it's been somewhat difficult to prepare a review of Mosquito, as I am in constant fear of damaging it with a splash of coffee or a badly-timed twist of a page. My book, for example, generally opens to a stunning painting of W4087, an NF.II in the early all-black colours of 157 Squadron.

There are similarly striking images of various other marques of the Mosquito, and the book is printed on especially heavy, stiff paper to do justice to the illustrations, all by Rikyu Watanabe. If ever there were a Mosquito Coffee-Table book, this would be it.

For all of the book's collector's-item flavour however, it also has an eminently practical side, especially as far as modellers are concerned. There are excellent cutaways of the aircraft, as well as exceptionally detailed illustrations of cockpit features. Indeed, the interest here will go beyond modellers to anyone who has a healthy interest in the Mosquito's technical features. There are close-up, detailed drawings of points of particular interest, such as the radiator layout and of the fuselage construction (at the wing-root no less!)

None of the above is meant to cast aspersions on the text by Bill Sweetman. It is brief and to the point, and presents the most fundamental aspects of the aircraft's story. However, any textual account, whether by Sweetman or another author, has an almost impossible task in trying to live up to the standard set by Watanabe's artwork. I'd have a hard time lending Mosquito to someone, or even attempting to scan in the images, again for fear of damaging the book.

Given the grade of the paper used and the quality of the artwork contained within, this is slightly more expensive than the average second-hand book. However, compared to the price of a brand-new textbook, this book is a steal.. (There are links to used-book services through and on the Books page of this site.)

This Mosquito does for artwork what Sharp and Bowyer's identically-titled book does for the history of the aircraft. As such, it is a must for any Mossie fan.

Mark Huxtable, January 2002

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