by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The Mosquito surely needs no introduction, with the "Wooden Wonder" remaining a solid modelling favourite through the decades and firmly back in the limelight thanks to the recent release of superb largescale new-tool kits of both the fighter and bomber versions.
Valiant Wings' new book is the first in a 2-volume set on the Mosquito, with Pt. 1 focusing on the bomber and reconnaissance variants, taking in target-towers along the way.
Richard Franks has teamed up with artists Richard Caruana and Wojciech Sancowski to produce a very informative and well balanced 192-page soft-bound study of the bomber/reconn Mossie, while well-known modellers Libor Jekl and Steve Evans will surely inspire many new builds with their excellent construction articles on kits in three popular scales.
As with previous titles in the series, the book is compiled with modellers firmly in mind, so it includes on all the elements important to this sector of the market - although pure aviation enthusiasts will find much of value too.
So, the book is divided into two main sections - Airframe chapters and Miniature chapters - although, the boundaries are largely nominal and, if you're like me, you'll find yourself moving back and forth between them in the course of what is a very enjoyable read.
Airframe SectionNot noted in the list of contents, the book actually kicks off with a 15-page Preface, in which the author gives a very clear and concise history of the variants under study from the first prototype through to the hideous TT Mk. 39 - the final Mosquito version produced, and proof that even the shapely Mossie wasn't immune to failed "face-lifts".
"Evolution - The Bombers" begins the main study, sub-type by sub-type, with concise notes on each backed up by side view drawings and numerous photos. A neat touch is that the camouflage and markings are described for the "specials" and one-offs that fall outside the broader coverage that follows.
"Evolution - Photo-Reconnaissance" and "Other Variants" follow the same format before Chapter 4 tackles Camouflage & Markings in detail. The overview of the official painting specifications is illustrated with period photos and colour profiles for a wide variety of schemes. Of course, as with most aircraft, there are plenty of "non-standard" examples - especially once unit painters got to work on the aircraft. One interesting point I'd not spotted before is the variation in camouflage divisions between assembly plants, and the mix of "hard" and "soft" among machines in the same factory line-ups. Where masks were apparently used, there was still clearly scope for a degree of variation.
Miniatures SectionCoverage of the Mosquito in model form begins with reviews of the kits released since 1998. This means many of the "golden oldies" aren't included - which I think is fair enough, because the section would risk taking over the book if it tried to review every kit in the long list of what has appeared over the years. But Valiant Wings have also found a good compromise for those modellers wanting reviews of earlier releases by making downloadable PDF files available from their website.
Top quality full builds then follow of the following kits:
1:72 - Hasegawa B Mk IV
1:72 - Tamiya B. Mk IV converted to a B MK XVI with Blackbird Models resin nacelles
1:48 Airfix PR Mk XVI
1:32 HK Models B Mk IV
Each is illustrated step by step, adding extra detail and corrections along the way. The text is very clear and the colour photos are excellent.
Building A Collection covers some of the same ground as "Evolution" and I found myself dipping back and forth between the two. To be honest the division feels a little arbitrary - the principal difference being the inclusion here of isometric views and checklists of noteworthy points for each variant. As with previous titles in the series, I think the two sections could really be combined quite readily.
In DetailThis is the section which will undoubtedly be the reason for most modellers to buy the book. For "In Detail" read "Walkaround" - and it's a whopper, filling 64 pages with a really comprehensive combination of modern colour photos, vintage shots and illustrations from original manuals. The result is superb - a definite "must have" for anyone wishing to superdetail or correct their bomber/reconn Mossie kit in any scale.
Coverage is divided into the following sections, each covered in detail with informative captions for every photo that highlight a mass of points that one might otherwise miss:
Cockpit & Canopy
Mid & Aft Fuselage
Engines, Propeller & Cowlings
Bombs & Drop Tanks
Radio, Radar and Misc. Electrical
Target Towing Equipment
Finally (almost), the Appendices give a useful kits, accessories and reading lists. Not all of the items will be easily available, but it gives a good idea what's been released over the years. Last but definitely not least, the back of the book contains a very handy fold-out sheet of 1:48 scale drawings covering 12 versions.
ConclusionValiant Wings deserve to have a major hit with this book. It's very readable and includes a mass of information I've not come across elsewhere. It already ranks among the most detailed books on the Mosquito that I've ever read, and once the follow-up volume covering the fighter versions appears, the combined result will likely be the most comprehensive guide to the aircraft available. I recommend it highly to aviation enthusiasts and modellers alike.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.