Until the introduction of jet aircraft towards the end of the Second World War, the deHavilland Mosquito held the distinction of being the fastest aircraft in any force involved in the global conflict. A technological marvel, the Mosquito was built almost entirely of wood. Wood was adopted for construction to speed the design process, tap into construction materials not readily used by the war effort and to employ new labour (some 12,000 unemployed skilled woodworkers were hired to build the airplane). The “Wooden Wonder” quickly earned a well-deserved reputation as its speed and ability to survive flak and cannon fire led to the development of a wide range of variants.
Many Edmontonians served with the Air Forces of Canada and the United Kingdom during the Second World War flying Mosquitos. The RCAF’s 418 (City of Edmonton) Squadron compiled an impressive combat records and Wing Commander Russell Bannock was the most decorated.
When war broke out in September 1939, Russ Bannock joined the RCAF. After training at Trenton and Camp Borden in Ontario, Bannock was sent to instructors’ school at Trenton, then served as chief instructor at No. 3 Central Flying School at Arnprior, Ontario until 1943.
He longed to fly the Mosquito and in 1943 was posted to Greenwood, Nova Scotia for training on this aircraft. There he met his navigator, Robert Bruce, RAF, and upon graduation they were posted to 418 Squadron in June 1944; Bannock as a Squadron Leader. On the night of June 14/15, 1944 flying HR 147 / TH-Z, Bannock and Bruce scored their first victory downing an Me 110 while on a night intruder mission over Avord, France.
About this time the first pilotless V1 flying bombs were launched against London and the Mosquito night intruder squadrons were assigned to protect the city. Despite their speed, the Mosquitoes could only catch the V1s in a dive from 10,000 feet. Bannock and Bruce scored their first V1 kill on June 19/20, 1944 and went on to destroy nineteen V1s.
Russ Bannock was promoted to Wing Commander and became the Commanding Officer of 418 Squadron in October 1944. In mid-November he assumed command of 406 Squadron. At war’s end his total score was 11 aircraft destroyed (nine of which were aerial victories) and four damaged.
After the war Bannock joined deHavilland Canada and had a distinguished career as a test pilot and manager, a member of the Board of Directors, and eventually President and CEO. He also operated his own consulting firm, Bannock Aerospace Ltd. and in 1983 he was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
In 2015 Bannock was further honoured by Edmontonians by having a street named after him.
The museum's mosquito was displayed at the main gate of the air base at Namao until spring 1975.
The aircraft was turned over to the Alberta Aviation Museum's restoration group in late 1992. The aircraft has been modified and painted to resemble Mosquito FB MkVI HR147 / TH-Z flown by Wing Commander Russ Bannock during the summer of 1944.