A52-600 is a unique aircraft for two reasons, firstly it is only one of the few surviving de Havilland Mosquitoes from the 7781 built that has a Australian War Service record and secondly it is the only surviving PR Mk XVI.
It is being restored at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria, Australia by the RAAF Museum and a volunteer group of dedicated serviceman and civilians.
Its war service includes 21 missions over enemy targets on the Indonesian archipelago and the Borneo invasion in 1945. A further 19 missions were completed in peacetime in the aerial mapping of Australia.
Total airframe flying time was 321 hours 50 minutes.
Built at Hatfield England, it was shipped to Australia, arriving in December 1944, reassembled and flight tested at No. 2 Aircraft Depot Richmond. It was flown to Coomalie Creek Airstrip (Northern Territory) and taken on strength at No 87 (PR) Squadron.
The first operational flight was to Timor on 23rd March 1945; the last, on 11th August 1945 over Kuching Prison Camp Borneo, while on detachment to Labuan Island, Borneo. A52-600 was flown by the RAAF after the war until withdrawn from flying in 1947. It continued service in the RAAF as a static instructional airframe at the Air and Ground Radio School, Ballarat.
Listed for disposal in November 1954, it was purchased by a Mildura orchardist in 1957 who cut the wings flush with the fuselage and removed the tail section in order to remove the aircraft from Ballarat. A52-600 stood in the open bringing joy to children as a playhouse. It is a miracle that little damage occurred to the timber aircraft largely due to Mildura’s mild, dry climate.
Acquired by the Mildura Warbirds Aviation Museum in 1966, it was kept under cover for the next 17 years, when it was sold to a syndicate of three in Albury/Wodonga. This syndicate worked towards bringing the aircraft to static display but decided it would fare better in the hands of the RAAF, it was exchanged and transferred in 1987.
The RAAF Museum subsequently transferred her to 21 Squadron, followed by another transfer in 1990 to 503 Wing RAAF Richmond to complete a full circle for A52-600 as after 43 years it was back where its RAAF service commenced in 1944. It was assessed to determine if restoration to flight condition was a viable proposition and the green light was given to commence this difficult task.
During the 70th Anniversary of the RAAF at Richmond Base in 1991, A52-600 was featured in a display, which generated a great deal of public interest. As a result Alan Davies a pilot of A52-600 decided in July 1992 to initiate the foundation of the Mosquito Aircraft Association of Australia. Its aim is to gather a group of volunteer servicemen and civilians together, to assist the RAAF Museum with the mammoth task of restoring this historic aircraft.
At Richmond, the fuselage had extensive restoration undertaken, along with a total of the tailplane and other smaller items, but the RAAF decided that the aircraft should move back to the RAAF Museum for completion.
On 31st March 1998 A52-600 was again transferred via RAAF Hercules to Point Cook where it was mothballed until 24th March 2002. Restoration has once again recommenced in the Restoration Hangar as the primary restoration project of the Museum.