The Anonymous Widower

Ball Bearings, The Mosquito Airliner and The Gay Viking

This story from Coast last night was fascinating, as it told the story of how the British ran the German blockade of Sweden during the Second World War to obtain essential supplies of ball bearings and other advanced technology.

I have been fascinated by the Mosquito, de Havilland’s Wooden Wonder, since I was a child and after reading the definitive book on the aircraft about thirty years ago, I realised just what a superb aircraft it was. Last night, they showed rare film of Mosquito airliners of BOAC, running the blockade to Sweden to obtain the ball bearings.

But they could not carry very much, although they were successful despite being unarmed.The airliners had a pressurised cabin, so they could go very high and remember that at the time the Mosquito was one of the fastest aircraft in the world. So they relied on height and speed for defence.

This was where the Gay Viking and her siblings came in. They were fast motor gun boats, built by Camper and Nicholsons, who are more well-known for their yachts for the rich and famous. They could bring in forty tons of cargo. The trips are described on Gay Viking’s page in Wikipedia.

July 18, 2011 - Posted by | World | , ,


  1. I recommend “The Vivid Air” by Alex Revell, a biography of Michael Maxwell who was a Mosquito pilot during WWII, which gives you a feel for just how remarkable an aircraft the Mosquito was. (In fact it’s a double biography as it includes the life of Michael’s much older brother who was a WWI ace.)

    Likewise “Mosquito Thunder” by Stuart R.Scott, an account of 105 Squadron between 1942 & 1945 including the squadron’s stint at Bourn Aerodrome near Cambridge which I know well ( ).

    I have a piston from a Merlin engine (used to power the Mosquito) which my father acquired during WWII when he worked for de Havilland’s.

    Comment by SpencerH | July 19, 2011 | Reply

  2. Did you ever meet Eric Seacy at Ferranti? He learned to fly in Mosquitos just after the war.

    Comment by AnonW | July 19, 2011 | Reply

    • No I have never even heard of Eric Seacy.

      Comment by SpencerH | July 19, 2011 | Reply

      • He bought the first Artemis 1000 system and was a good friend of many of us and Metier.

        Comment by AnonW | July 20, 2011

  3. Eric was my boss at Ferranti between 1997 and 1980. You could not hope to meet a nicer guy. I was watching a program on Vulcan bombers tonight and thought Eric had flown them. It may be that my memory is fading though.

    Comment by Steve Paterson | August 14, 2011 | Reply

    • I just spoke to his widow and she says that he didn’t fly Vulcans. She did like your comment! James

      Comment by AnonW | August 14, 2011 | Reply

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