1/48 Tamiya Mosquito FB.VI

In BOAC Colours

by Mike Regan



Geoffrey De Havilland’s wooden masterpiece, the Mosquito needs no introduction. The type is a legend – the “Wooden Wonder” that served the R.A.F. as a fast bomber, fighter bomber, night fighter, long range reconnaissance aircraft and trainer and target tug. The U.S. Army Air Forces also took a shine to the Mosquito, with a number seeing service as night fighters and weather reconnaissance birds for the 8th Army Air Force in N W Europe. Post war, Mossies saw service with air forces as diverse as the newly formed Israeli AF and China – and of course, here in New Zealand with No.75 Sqn, RNZAF.

Eventually, the Mosquito was to be replaced by another legend, the English Electric Canberra jet bomber, which went on to compile its own outstanding record of service over many decades.


What is not so well known is the civilian use of the Mosquito during WW2 by BOAC – the then British Overseas Airways Corporation. This came as result of the fact that the British government had contracted with the Swedish government to buy that country’s entire stock of ball bearings, a vital component of a mechanized military in wartime. Alongside this was the need to maintain a link to the British Embassy in Stockholm , which provided essential intelligence “eyes and ears” across the Baltic into Germany – and also into neighbouring occupied Denmark and Norway.


The service started in late 1939 with British Airways Limited running flights from Perth in Scotland to Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm in Norway, Finland and Sweden respectively. These flights were undertaken using Junkers Ju-52/3m aircraft.  As well as bring back the precious ball bearings, the flights also helped keep up a British “presence” in those countries as a counter-balance to German propaganda efforts in the region.


In March 1940, the service was transferred to BOAC control and after the Soviet attack on Finland and the German occupation of Denmark and Norway, only the Stockholm run was still in operation. Not only was the service of huge importance to the British, but to Norway as well as large numbers of Norwegians had made their way into Sweden and needed to be brought back to the U.K. to continue the fight against their country’s occupiers.


In 1941 BOAC established a service flying from Leuchars in Scotland to Bromma  Airport in Stockholm. Flights were undertaken using Lockheed Hudsons and later Lodestars purchased in the U.S.A. by the Norwegian Purchasing Commission. These were operated in BOAC colours, but were crewed and owned by the Norwegians. While being reasonably safe during the dark winter months, Hudsons and Lodestars were very vulnerable to attack during the long Northern summer.  A requirement therefore existed for a high-speed, high altitude aircraft to fly the route.  BOAC approached the British government for a solution and were offered – wait for it – Albermarle and Whitley bombers!  These of course, would have made even larger and slower targets than the Hudsons and Lodestars already in service and were politely turned down.

There was only one type that really made the grade – the D.H. Mosquito, which left most Luftwaffe fighters choking on its contrails and exhaust.


On the 5th of August 1942, a 105 Sqn Mosquito B.IV (DK301, GB-H) carried out a courier flight to Stockholm.  The aircraft was painted overall grey and devoid of any markings.  After the flight proved successful, BOAC received their first Mossie on December 15th 1942. This was a Mosquito PR.IV, ex RAF DZ411. During the spring of 1943, the first of six Mosquito FB.VI were received by BOAC, followed by another three in April 1944. These aircraft were all demilitarized – stripped of weapons, armour plate and exhaust shrouds. All gun ports and ejector chutes were plated or doped over to minimize drag. This was a speed thing after all. Initially the Mosquitoes flew alongside the Hudsons and Lodestars, but as German fighter activity increased in the Baltic, the two Lockheed twins were grounded.  Norwegian crews flew with British BOAC crews and as the Norwegians were never happy with the load carrying ability of the Mosquito compared to the Lockheeds, the Hudsons and Lodestars were eventually airborne again.  With the removal of all armament, every nook and cranny on the Mosquito could be used to carry cargo – especially those ball bearings.  Those “lucky” enough to be a Mosquito passenger could look forward to several hours on their back, wearing an electrically heated flying suit, lying on a cot in the bomb bay with an intercom link to the pilot and navigator above and a flask of tea and some biscuits. Kind of puts budget airlines in a whole new light!

Click on images below to see larger images


The model

Tamiya’s 1/48th scale Mosquito kits (B.IV/PR.IV, FB.VI/NF.II, NF.XIII) are some of the best of their 1/48th scale range. Typically easy to build with plenty of moulded in detail, a great model can be had straight out of the box. Of course, there is a wealth of aftermarket stuff out there for them – decals, resin and photo etch if so desired. I’ve built this model pretty much “OOB” leaving out of course all the bits that go “bang” and closing the bomb bay and crew entry door for a nice “clean” model. All gun ports and ejector chutes have been filled and sanded flush. Apart from the decals, the only aftermarket stuff is Ultracast's great set of resin exhaust stacks.  There is really no hidden peril to building a Tamiya Mossie – it’s a vice free kit.



It’s the paint scheme that makes a BOAC Mossie stand out – it’s quite different from an RAF Mosquito, even if wartime camouflage colours are still used. For many years it was accepted that BOAC Mosquitoes “must” have been painted Dark Green and Dark Earth over Aluminium undersides. The large civil codes were “of course” Roundel Blue with Aluminium borders. This appears to have been extrapolated from several colour photos of ex-military types such as the Vickers Warwick (looks like a bigger Wellington ) in BOAC service. Aeromaster created BOAC markings for one of their Mosquito decal sheets and faithfully followed this assumption. Trouble is, it’s turned out to be, er, wrong.


Research undertaken in the late 1990s by Nils Mathisrud from Norway using eye-witness interviews and BOAC documents has shown that the Mosquitoes were in quite different colours. To cut a long story short, the were two “official” schemes in existence: the Civil Land Scheme of Dark Earth and Dark Green and the Civil Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey. The underside colour for both schemes was nominally Aluminium, although other colours could be substituted as required. The Mosquitoes were painted in a variation of the Civil Sea Scheme. The registration codes were to be painted in Night (black) and underlined with red/blue bands on the topside of the wing and red/white/blue bands on the underside of the wings and fuselage sides. Photos of BOAC Mosquitoes show that a lighter colour than Night was used – possibly Ocean Grey or Light Sea Grey. The undersides were painted Sky with Night codes. In late August 1943 BOAC ordered two Mosquitoes G-AGGC and G-AGGD to have their undersides repainted in Night and the underside codes to be repainted in Light Slate Grey. The underside bands were to be red/blue only, although there is photographic evidence of G-AGGC with Night undersides retaining the original red/white/blue bands. In April 1944 BOAC ordered all Mosquitoes to have their undersides repainted Night and instructed that the codes be repainted Night on the wing topsides and fuselage sides, with the underside codes being Light Slate Grey. The actual camouflage pattern used was based on a BOAC pattern for multi-engine aircraft and is quite different from standard RAF patterns. The upshot of all this guff is a nifty model of a Mossie in a very different paint scheme!


The decals for this model come from a Liveries Unlimited decal sheet, which I was lucky enough to recently acquire. This sheet is very closely based on the Norwegian research and has markings for two Mossies G-AGGF (ex RAF HJ720) and G-AGGC (ex RAF HJ680). Both are Mosquito FB.VI fighter bombers – disarmed of course! “Golf Charlie” was delivered to BOAC on the 16th of April 1943 and subsequently returned to the RAF in November 1944 after having flown some 114 round trips in BOAC service. “Golf Foxtrot” had a shorter life; being delivered on 24th April 1943 she crashed at Glenlee in Scotland after only having flown 4 round trips. The decals are Microscale quality and – according to the instructions are “Y2K Compliant” being "Certified to perform on or after Dec. 31st 1999" – that was a real comfort!


I’ve used Tamiya enamels throughout (except for the cockpit – that’s Humbrol #78). The Civil Sea Scheme is Tamiya XF24 and XF22 - these give a reasonable match for Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey respectively. The undersides are XF1 for Night (black). Tamiya X22 gloss clear is my varnish of choice – decals just lurve this stuff and always settle down well over it. A final coat of matt varnish tops everything off – well, it would have until the stuff turned blotchy white after drying! More fool me for using the dregs of an old jar of Humbrol Mattcote…. After using the words *&^%%&*!! And ())()*&^%&!!! I managed to cure the problem by applying two solid coats of gloss and then a coat of matt using a new jar of Testors Dullcoat – phew!


Tamiya’s little family of Mossies have plenty of scope for a large variety of models and markings and it was great to be able to build something a little off the beaten track.  It’s whetted the appetite for another Mossie or two, or three….  


Photos and text © by Mike Regan