Fourth Avspecs Mosquito Rebuild Flies

After more than three decades in the workshop a former RAAF and RNZAF Mosquito flew again

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

By Nigel Hitchman and Staff Writers

On Monday, March 18th, 2024 at Ardmore Aerodrome, New Zealand, the fourth de Havilland Mosquito rebuilt by Avspecs Ltd., NZ2308/ZK-PWL, took to the air at 15:24 hours (local) for a brief 13 minute flight. It was flown by well-known warbird personality Steve Hinton, with Warren Denholm of Avspecs in the second seat. More test flights will follow on the 19th, and the aircraft is scheduled to be a major attraction at this Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow — tickets are still available on Friday and Sunday.

On the morning of March 18th, the crew undertook a taxi test and engine runup, followed by a thorough check-over.  The first flight, after lunch, comprised several circuits above the airfield followed by a textbook, smooth landing on runway 21 with a blustery 15-knot wind (mostly down the runway) under the broken cloud. The aircraft was then returned to the hangar for some tweaking followed by more flying intended for the next day.

This Mosquito is an Australian-built example that was sold to New Zealand and had logged over 475 hours when retired from service. It is currently painted in a version of its postwar 75 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) silver scheme and codes, with the addition of wartime ‘D-Day’ stripes.

It is this aircraft that inspired this modern-day New Zealand Mosquito ‘production line’. In the late 1980s, when Glyn Powell was developing the new Mosquito mold process to reconstruct the wooden airframes of the type, Glyn selected it to be ‘his own’ Mosquito, but sadly Glyn passed away in 2019, though not before getting a Mosquito flight in another restored example. (Glyn’s plan to have this Australian-built aircraft to pay a flying visit to Bankstown, NSW, where it was built is no longer part of the publicly available plans.) The latter restoration of NZ2308 was completed by Avspecs and the Mosquito Aircraft Restoration team, for U.S. clients Rod Lewis and Charles Somers.

NZ2308’s History

This Mosquito was built by de Havilland Australia at Bankstown, Sydney, Australia, for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Originally planned to become an FB.40 fighter-bomber version (essentially the Australian-built equivalent of the very successful FB.VI) it was given the RAAF serial number A52-20. However, the decision was made to convert a batch of partly constructed FB.40s to dual control trainer status, and this aircraft was converted to a Mosquito T.43 while still on the production line. At that point, it was renumbered with a new serial, A52-1054.

A formation of three 75 Squadron RNZAF Mosquitos during an air show at RNZAF Station Taieri, Dunedin, NZ, including NZ2308. [Air Force Museum of New Zealand, image from the Leonard Adolphus Rayner DFC personal album.]

The aircraft was allocated to No. 3 Aircraft Depot, RAAF Amberley, in Queensland on August 19th, 1946. Two months later it moved to RAAF Archerfield with the same unit on October 18th and was placed in storage, due to the war’s end and the sudden lack of need for these machines.

The RNZAF decided to purchase a small batch of dual-control Mosquitos to help convert crews onto the FB.VI fighter bombers that were to be ferried from Britain. As Australia had dual control Mosquitoes surplus to their requirements, the New Zealand government made a deal to purchase four T.43 models from Australia, and 15 Mosquito T.IIIs (from the UK) as well.

A52-1054 was one of those sold to New Zealand, at an individual cost of £3000, and was eventually ferried across the Tasman to RNZAF Base Ohakea, where it was brought on charge with the RNZAF on June 25th, 1947. The new RNZAF serial number NZ2308 was given to this Mossie.

NZ2308 flying with 75 Squadron in the early 1950s
An air-to-air photo of NZ2308 flying with 75 Squadron RNZAF in the early 1950s. [Photo via the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.]

It was allocated to 75 Squadron RNZAF and was marked with the code letters YC-Z. This turned out to be the only squadron of the postwar RNZAF to operate Mosquitoes when a policy change meant that the other two planned squadrons were never formed. The aircraft served with the squadron until the early 1950s when the unit converted to de Havilland Vampires.

No. 75 Squadron Mosquito NZ2308, YC-Z, after being retired from RNZAF service. [Photo via the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, from the Des White personal collection.]

After being sold to what proved to be an abortive project to use surplus Mosquito engines to blow air to protect fruit crops, the remains of NZ2308 ended up on a farm at Riwaka, north of Motueka, visible from the road. In the 1960s the airframe was recovered by volunteers from the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) who were also restoring another recovered Mosquito, NZ2305. [More details of the aircraft’s history can be found in Dave Homewood’s report on the restoration.]

An overview of the Mosquito in the Avspecs hangar. Warren Denholm, far left. [photo by Dave Homewood]

Eventually, the remains of NZ2308 passed from MOTAT to Owyn Fenner, who worked at Gulf Aeronautics, Ardmore, and he came up with the idea of forming a syndicate to rebuild the airplane to fly again. He approached the NZ Warbirds Association, and a group was formed.

The FB style nose, and starboard Merlin engine. [Photo by Dave Homewood]

One of those syndicate members was Glyn Powell, who would eventually collect all the necessary drawings from around the world to build the fuselage molds from scratch and to rebuild the Mosquito, and continue with the idea after the syndicate dissolved. He also collected parts and other wrecks, and with a couple of colleagues, commenced the project which, with Avspecs (and others’) collaboration has resulted in this remarkable ‘production line’ of four fliers and one static rebuild – so far.

Avspecs Mosquito Production

The first Mosquito completed by Avspecs was FB.26 (the Canadian version of the FB.VI) KA114 for US collector Jerry Yagen’s Virginia Beach based Military Aviation Museum, and flew after rebuild on September 27th, 2012 in the hands of Keith Skilling and David Phillips. This was the first flight of a Mosquito anywhere in the world after the loss of British Aerospace’s example, T.III RR299/G-ASKH, in a fatal crash at Barton, Manchester in 1996.

Jerry Yagen with his Mosquito, KA114, at the Mosquito airshow at Ardmore in 2012. [Photo by James Kightly]

The second Avspecs example was the ex-Imperial War Museum trainer version, a T.III serialled TV959. It was displayed for many years at the Lambeth IWM, with the starboard wing cut off inboard of the engine to fit in the display gallery. Sold to The Fighter Collection in the UK, it later went to the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) in Washington State, who sent it to Avspecs for restoration. Wearing temporary post-war RNZAF markings representing NZ2337, it flew again in 2016 and upon arrival at the FHCAM was repainted as the structurally identical FB.VI version with the serial NS838 and wearing the name Wag’s War Wagon.

A composite image by Gavin Conroy of the first three de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito aircraft restored by the hugely talented team of restorers at Avspecs. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka.]

The remains of Mosquito FB.VI PZ474 were acquired from California by Rod Lewis and sent to New Zealand for Avspecs restoration. It flew again on January 13, 2019, also in the hands of Steve Hinton. In 2020, it was sold (in the U.S.) to Charles Somers. It is another ex-RNZAF aircraft, having been assigned serial number NZ2384 before private ownership in NZ and then the U.S.

Worldwide Mosquito Production

After their first post-restoration flights, all of these Mosquitos departed to the U.S. and their owners by sea. Following NZ2308, the next Avspecs Mosquito project is for Peter Monk, based at Biggin Hill in the UK.

In the 1940s Mosquitos were built by several factories in the UK, with license production in Canada and Australia. Over 7,500 were built, with 30 identities surviving currently of which eight are under restoration, the majority to static condition. Avspecs have now returned two British built examples, one Canadian and one Australian to flight. (Though these are classified as different versions, they are all equivalent to the FB.VI, solid nose fighter bomber model.) With four completed by them in New Zealand in the twenty-first century, and another to come from the Avspecs experts, maybe now we can add New Zealand to the list of nations that have mass-produced Mosquitoes.

With thanks to Dave Homewood, James Kightly, Zac Yates and others for additional material.



  1. Congratulations to all involved including the new owners..I had a tentative relationship with NZ2308, firstly at Motueka where I spent the summer of 1969 picking tobacco, and supped at the Riwaka Pub…Secondly on doing odd/easy tasks on her at Glynn’s at Drury..(Walnut husks took on a whole new meaning!) I was overjoyed to see this familiar relic again! I often drove past her, abandoned and cannibalised in that Cockies paddock.I reckon NZ2308 must have been rescued late ’69 / early ’71..She was still in the field in March’69 when I left for Oz,but gone by my visit to Riwaka Pub, Oct’71.Humbly trying to help the record..Yours in Plane Spotting,Barry Hall proud ex-ATC Cadet,’62-64 (now a Building Trustee), No4 Sqn Ardmore

    • G’day Barry, it must be an Amazing feeling (after seeing her at her worst and most peril) to see this beautiful beast fly again mate!! I made sure I was at Ardmore 2012 too! Great background history thank you👍👍👍 Warm regards, Mark the truckie👷‍♂️🚛✈

  2. Great to see that some flying examples of this aircraft, probably the finest and most adaptable airframe of the Second World War ( including the Spitfire). Unbelievable that they were sold off for £50.00 per engine and a pile of firewood. Good on yer for bringing them back to fly again.

  3. Have been lucky enough to visit AVSPECS three times. It is an amazing company and it is to be congratulated on the amazing aircraft, particularly the Mosquitos, it produces.

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