Spartan Air Services & the Mosquito

Spartan Air Services & the Mosquito


Spartan Air Services purchased
15 Mosquitos for $1500 each in 1954. Nine were used for aerial
mapping and others were used for parts. This was one of the 15 airplanes
that Spartan Air Services bought in 1954 to bring to Canada for
their photo mapping work. HMS is one of only 3 remaining
Spartan Mosquitos. HML was restored to flying
condition and HMQ is on display at the
Alberta Aviation Museum. HMS will be the only plane restored to Spartan
configuration. Our airplane, CF-HMS, was the
last of those 10 airplanes to
fly to Canada and that was in July of
1956 and went to work for Spartan as a high altitude photo
mapping airplane. This airplane spent the majority
of its life flying in Canada. It mapped all of Northern
Canada. You can go to a pilot supply
store right now and still buy the maps that these aircraft
made and it says in the corner of the map, “Map created from
images generated in 1956, 57,
58” and I consider that fantastic. The Mosquito was originally
built as a twin engine 2-seat bomber for the Royal Air Force. The de Havilland Mosquito was
one of the most remarkable planes of World War II. Oh a fantastic airplane. It was a little overpowered
perhaps as I understand from talking to the pilots, but a
great airplane. If the good Lord said ‘Verne,
you have 1 hour left to fly in
this world. What do you want to fly in?’ It
would be the Mosquito. The de Havilland Mosquito was a
good fit for aerial mapping and it was readily available. Everybody liked the airplane
themselves because there were much quicker in getting to
height and you know, we’re flying at 30,000 feet. The Mosquito probably cut
anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes off that time to get to height
against a P-38. The Mosquito was a significant
improvement for quite a number of reasons. A much larger airplane, Rolls
Royce Merlin engines which were more reliable than the P-38
Allison engines and they could operate far more comfortably at
the altitudes that they needed. The Mosquito had a 6 hour 30
range so then you could take advantage of the sparser air
fields and that’s the only way we could have done it. A 3 hour flight on the Mosquito
would cover a good lot of ground and it was definitely more
economical than the P-38. Prior to being used for Spartan, the Mosquitos were built for the
RAF. CF-HMS was unique as it was
converted to a prototype photo reconnaissance airplane: A
PR.35. Spartan Air Services did some
modifications on the airplanes primarily to accommodate the
very large format cameras that they were using to do the photo
mapping work. I think there was about 9 or 10
definite modifications that was done on the aircraft. The first one converted was HML
and they were all equipped to the same standard. They had to accommodate a third
person, so it was a pilot, a Well, the Mosquito was
originally designed just for a 2 person crew. When you’re photo mapping,
you’ve got to have a photographer and the
photographer was put in the rear of the airplane where a crew
member was never intended to be in the first place. We cut a hatch door in the back for the camera operator to get
in. They had to have oxygen systems
for the photographer, they had to have a radio system for him
so that he could communicate back to the pilot and the
navigator. It needed more endurance so they
put in extra fuel tanks in the bomb bay, they took out the
opening bomb bay doors which were no longer required. They put in a Perspex nose cone
to give better visibility for the navigator. They painted over
the top of the canopy to reduce the amount of sunlight getting
in at 35,000 feet. There’s several things in there
that the DoT, the Canadian Department of
Transport, wanted certain things done to the
airplane like in the engine fire extinguishers, they
had to install that. They had to increase the
incidence on the tail plane by 2 degrees to cover the extra load
that we put in there. The biggest contribution to
weight was the revolutionary, but hefty
camera. They had to cut a hole in the
fuselage for that about 18 inches square I would think, and an inch thick and very, very
tough. The famous Mosquito positioned
Spartan Air Services as a world leader in aerial
mapping.

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