The de Havilland Mosquito was a highly versatile aircraft of World War II, designed as a light bomber, but also used as a fighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft among other things.

The one thing I cannot find much mention of, is the possibility of using it as a carrier aircraft. Was it ever deployed on an aircraft carrier? Or was it too big, or was there some other reason it was considered unsuitable?

  • 2
    Just out of curiosity, did you search 'Carrier' in the Wiki link you posted? Because it seems like the wikipedia article has information on carrier variants.
    – Kevin
    Mar 25, 2020 at 20:30
  • One of my favourite Airfix models growing up :-).
    – copper.hat
    Mar 26, 2020 at 4:13
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    @copper.hat Mine too! I had 4 of them suspended from the ceiling in my bedroom in a "missing man" formation. (With the 2nd plane just above the others pulling out of the formation.)
    – Tonny
    Mar 26, 2020 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


There were trials and plans, but Mosquitos never actually operated from carriers. Eric "Winkle" Brown who was the chief naval test pilot at RAE Farnborough at the time, did deck-landing and takeoff trials aboard HMS Indefatigable on 25th March 1944. This was the first landing of a twin-engine aircraft aboard a Royal Navy carrier, and his memoirs (Wings On My Sleeve) record that it was tricky. In particular, a takeoff down the centre line of the deck wasn't possible without the starboard wing hitting the carrier's island.

Shortly thereafter, he was sent to teach a group of RAF pilots how to take off from (but not land on) a carrier. The purpose of this was to attack KMS Tirpitz with the Highball version of the Barnes Wallis bouncing bomb. The Mosquitos would have had the range to return from this mission to Scotland, but not to fly the distance both ways. The project was dropped after RAF Lancasters sank the Tirpitz in Operation Catechism

The Sea Mosquito TR (Torpedo-Reconnaissance) Mk 33 was ordered on the basis of the trials, but the first production aircraft did not fly until November 1945, and they don't seem to have ever operated from carriers.

The smaller de Havilland Hornet did operate from carriers, and used the same wooden construction techniques.

  • Well, maybe the first twin engine landing on a carrier for the Royal Navy. In August 30, 1939, a twin engine XJO-3 (a modified Lockheed Electra Junior equipped with tricycle landing gear vice the usual tail-dragger and equipped with an arrestor hook) piloted by LCDR T B Clark USN made eleven landings and takeoffs from USS Lexington (CV-2). The French Navy successfully launched a Potez 565 from their carrier Bearn, in March 1936, but I am uncertain, having never seen it stated, as to just how the plane got aboard, by crane or by actually landing.
    – R Leonard
    Apr 2, 2020 at 0:52
  • @RLeonard: Thanks, corrected. Apr 2, 2020 at 8:18

The "Sea Mosquito" was tested in March 1944 with carrier deck landing trials on HMS Indefatigable in the Irish Sea. The pilot (almost inevitably) was the legendary Eric 'Winkle' Brown.

He discussed the trials in a 2015 video, where he noted several problems with using the Mosquito in carrier operation, not the least of which was that the carrier’s arrester-gear limited the Mosquito’s landing speed to a maximum 83 mph, in an aircraft with a published stall speed of 110 mph!

The Sea Mosquito development and history is discussed in Michael John Hardt's book De Havilland Mosquito, from page 115. This includes details of the modifications required for the aircraft to be deployed from carriers (reinforced fuselage, A-frame arrester hook, Rolls Royce Merlin 25 engines with larger 4-blade propellers, and (from the 2nd prototype) folding wings).

In the event, they were never deployed operationally as the war ended before the planned mission (Operation Highball) could be carried out.

  • A carrier-landing-speed lower than stall speed, that must've made landing an even bigger challenge than landing on a carrier already was.
    – Mast
    Mar 26, 2020 at 9:42
  • 'Winkle' did test land some other aircrafts on a carrier including a aircraft who was basically the idiot's perfect carrier borne aircraft - the stall speed was far below the combined speed of the wind and the carrier's own.... so he found out that the carrier basically was faster than the aircraft without the air-craft risking droping into the sea. The Mosquito wasn't forgiving at all. Mar 26, 2020 at 9:49
  • The other air craft was the Miles Messenger 38 , a small army liaison air-craft : it would be nice if we could transport officers from ground air-fields out to the carrier on the horizon and back in ... the day of the test the air-crafts stall speed was well below the combined air-speed of the carrier's speed and the wind... he had to raise speed to 45 mph and it still felt like that the carrier would leave him behind.. touch down was mostly like getting contact with the deck cut engine and break hard at the same time. lift off was .. the aircraft own length was enough to be flying. Mar 26, 2020 at 10:07

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