de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre

The de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, formerly the Mosquito Aircraft Museum, is a volunteer run aviation museum in the English county of Hertfordshire, just north of Greater London.

The collection is based around the definitive prototype and restoration shops for the de Havilland Mosquito and also includes several examples of the de Havilland Vampire – the third operational jet aircraft in the world.

When Walter Goldsmith, a retired army major purchased Salisbury Hall, he soon came to realise that the Hall had been used by de Havilland during the war. On contacting Bill Baird, then in charge of PR at de Havilland at Hatfield, he discovered that de Havilland had used it as the design centre for the Mosquito, and that Mr Baird had squirrelled the original prototype away in the Fiddlebridge stores, just off the airfield at Hatfield.

Having resisted several calls to burn the aircraft, Mr Baird was delighted to find someone who could offer the old aircraft a home. de Havilland carried out basic restoration work, and Mr Goldsmith accepted the aircraft back at Salisbury Hall in 1959.

The de Havilland Vampire first flew some six months after the Gloster Meteor, which itself came into service only a few weeks after the Messerschmitt Me 262. The de Havilland Vampire, however, had significantly better reliability, engine service life and a higher ceiling than the Messerschmitt Me 262. The collection also has both a complete de Havilland Comet, the world’s first jet airliner, and an excellent original hands-on static simulator for the Comet. Also in the collection are unique prototypes including an early tricycle undercarriage autogyro design, Mosquito aircraft, and a Molins Gun from a Tsetse Mosquito.

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