Editor’s Note: Adam Piggott, The Gentleman Adventurer, shares another of his insightful posts with us. We encourage you to visit his site regularly.
Here is a documentary of the only operational De Havilland Mosquito in the world going on one of its first flights. The narrator, an ex-Royal Marine, is almost giddy with excitement before the flight and fully emotional about the experience afterwards, (and for once a modern narrator who isn’t a giant douchebag as so many of them are.)
To gain an understanding of why people love this plane so much, (and incidentally it is also my favorite combat aircraft of the Second World War), you have to return to your own youth and remember why as children we played army men in the backyard, and built models of our favorite vehicles and aircraft, and read countless books and comics about battles large and small.
It’s because boys love war.
Boys love war because genetically it’s what we’re built to do. Girls are meant to bear and raise children, (which is why girls play with dolls), and boys are meant to protect those women and children from external threats. The Second World War holds the most fascination for boys because of the huge variety of toys that were developed during that conflict, and the Mosquito was one of the very best examples of technological advancement and pure romantic performance.
Yes, war is hell, and nobody sane wishes for war. But at the same time boys love war because it is our primary opportunity to perform the role that we were designed for in the first place. Of course many men die during war, but many women died during childbirth as well. It was the inherent risk for each sex of the species.
Many cultures have embraced war and warriors as the supreme example of the pinnacle of male development with the Japanese samurai being one of the best examples.
An example of this is encapsulated in the following clip from The Pacific television series.
That is pure male purpose and esprit di corp. That is why the narrator in the first video is so emotional about flying in that plane. Because it is not just a plane. It is male destiny and purpose made manifest. And when he flies in that plane he wishes above all else that he could have been there flying it operationally as well, and on the most dangerous missions possible.
In this sense men are still little boys. They never grow up. And thank God for that.