The Miraculous Mosquito | HistoryNet
Jerry Yagen's restored DH-98 Mosquito, part of his Military Aviation Museum collection, is one of only two in the world now flying.

The Miraculous Mosquito

By Stephan Wilkinson
1/8/2015 • Aviation History Magazine

It could be argued that no airplane amassed as remarkable a combat record in so short a time as did the Mosquito.

Of the hundreds of types of aircraft that flew in World War II, every warbirder could come up with a list of the dozen most iconic. Spitfire, P-51, Zero, Stuka, Me-109, PBY, B-17, Corsair, Lancaster, B-29, Fw-190, Me-262…the candidates are nearly endless, and most lists would differ. But it’s a fair bet that many would include the Timber Terror, the Loping Lumberyard, the Wooden Wonder: the de Havilland Mosquito.

It could be argued that no airplane amassed as remarkable a combat record in so short a time as did the Mosquito. It entered the war relatively late, a year to the day after the Battle of Britain ended, but it debuted with technology and aerodynamics far more advanced than the Spitfire’s. Certainly no airplane flew as many different kinds of missions and performed them as well as the Mosquito, one of the world’s first successful multirole combat aircraft. The Tornado strives to be its successor; the F-35 should be so lucky.

The Mosquito was an unarmed bomber with a crew of two, able to carry a bigger bombload farther than a B-17. It was also a fighter-bomber and a night fighter with an eight-gun nose battery. It was the most productive photoreconnaissance aircraft of the war. A high-speed courier. A weather-recon airplane. A carrier-qualified torpedo bomber (though too late to see combat). A pathfinder and target-marker for heavy bombers. The war’s most effective extreme-low-altitude intruder. A multiengine trainer and a high-speed target tug. A decoy frequently used to convince the Luftwaffe that three or four spoof-raid Mosquitos dropping chaff were a bomber stream of Lancasters.

Many other airplanes did many of these missions, but none did them all. Mosquitos were built in 33 different variants during WWII and seven that were introduced after the war, at a time when everything else with a propeller was being shunted off to reserve and training units.

It seemed such a benighted concept at the time: a bomber with no guns. After all, this was the era of the Flying Fortress, of four-engine aluminum overcasts carrying tons of machine guns, ammunition, ammo cans and belts, complex turret units…and add in the weight of the gunners themselves, dressed in heavy heated gear, helmets and flak jackets, sucking oxygen from tanks that weighed substantial amounts. All this could add up to one-sixth of a heavy bomber’s empty weight—three extra tons, in the case of a B-17. Plus the drag of blisters and turrets, gun barrels poking into the slipstream and wide-open waist windows.

The de Havilland Mosquito was the anti-Fortress, a bomber proposed to the Royal Air Force with speed as its salvation, not guns. Many forget that the Mosquito turned out to be the first of its kind and the B-17 the last of its line. Never since have bombers truly been armed defensively. The B-29 had four remotely controlled turrets until Curtis LeMay stripped the guns from them, preferring to carry bombs and fuel rather than guns made pointless by air superiority. B-52s had a tail battery—quad .50s and then a 20mm rotary cannon—but in 1991 that station was eliminated. Neither the RAF’s Canberra nor its V-bombers had a single gun. Neither did the F-117 stealth bomber, nor the B-1 and B-2. Since the day when the Mosquito went naked, guns on a bomber have been like tits on a boar.

De Havilland began design of the Mosquito on its own. Neither Geoffrey de Havilland nor his same-named son, who became the Mosquito’s chief test pilot, had any interest in dealing with the government, for their company had thrived during the 1920s and ’30s by concentrating on the civil market, where airplanes were bought because they got a job done, not because they met some blithering bureaucrat’s specifications.

The senior de Havilland also had a champion: Air Marshal Sir Wilfred Freeman, who is often casually characterized as “a friend of de Havilland’s.” Which he certainly turned out to be, but the initial connection was that Freeman had commanded a squadron of de Havilland DH-4s during World War I and became a huge fan of that airplane. The DH-4 was one of the best single-engine bombers of the war—faster than many fighters—and remained in service with the U.S. Army Air Service as late as 1932. Freeman was confident that the de Havillands knew what they were talking about when it came to airplanes. He pushed hard enough in favor of the Mosquito that the airplane became known among its detractors as Freeman’s Folly. Lord Beaverbrook, the Crown’s aircraft production czar, three times ordered him to shut down early Mosquito manufacturing. Fortunately, Beaverbrook never put it into writing, so Freeman ignored him.

Still, it wasn’t easy for de Havilland to convince the Air Ministry that an unarmed wooden bomber faster than any contemporary fighter was the answer to Bomber Command’s needs. The obvious riposte to this too-neat theorization was that the enemy would inevitably develop faster fighters. The British could see what Germany had done in grand prix automobile racing and had no illusions about the country’s technological prowess. This proved to be true to a degree when advanced versions of the Fw-190 and the nitrous oxide–boosted Me-410 became operational, and absolutely true when the Me-262 twin-engine jet flew. But nobody had anticipated the mid-1940s plateau of propeller effectiveness and compressibility problems that would limit conventional fighters to speeds roughly equivalent to the Mosquito’s no matter how extreme their horsepower. The Mosquito was fast in 1940 and remained fast in 1945.

Nonetheless, the Mosquito’s speed was a slightly exaggerated characteristic of the airplane. When the prototype flew in November 1940, it was certainly faster than contemporary frontline fighters, and for 2½ years after that first flight the Mosquito was the fastest operational aircraft in the world. But it should be remembered that no Mosquito ever went as fast (439 mph) as that slick lightweight did. By the time the Mosquito became operational, in September 1941, there were a number of faster singles being readied or already in service—the F4U Corsair, P-47 Thunderbolt, Hawker Typhoon and, more to the point, Focke Wulf Fw-190, which became a particularly potent Mosquito opponent. Some late-model 190s had as much as a 40-mph advantage over Mosquito bombers. Mosquitos relied as much upon altitude as they did pure speed to evade attack. If they were bounced from above, their saving grace lay in putting the nose down, maneuvering and hoping there were clouds in which to hide.

prototype Mosquito taken at the field behind Salisbury Hall (where it was designed and built) just before her maiden flight.
prototype Mosquito taken at the field behind Salisbury Hall (where it was designed and built) just before her maiden flight.

Fortunately for the British, too few Me-262s were assigned to the air-superiority role, since Hitler wanted Schnellbombers. And for that, we can thank the Mosquito. When a single Mosquito flew a photorecon mission over Berlin in March 1943 and was fruitlessly chased by several Me-109s and Fw-190s, the Führer decided that, by God, he was going to have a fleet of superfast light bombers, and the 262 reluctantly accepted a role for which it was never intended.

Hermann Göring was another Mosquito fan. “In 1940 I could fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now!” he famously said. “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building….They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops.”

Berlin was a frequent Mosquito target, for the airplane had the range to reach it and the heft to carry at first four 500-pound bombs and later as much as a 2-ton blockbuster bomb, and to do it at 35,000 feet. One famous three-plane Mosquito raid on Berlin in January 1943 was precisely timed to arrive just as Göring began an 11 a.m. radio address celebrating the Nazi party’s tenth anniversary. Sounds of confusion could be heard in the background as the broadcast was rescheduled for later in the day. At 4 that afternoon more Mosquitos arrived to again interrupt a radio speech, this time by Joseph Goebbels.

Though Mosquitos flew thousands of routine bombing missions, their most popular exploits were low-altitude, pinpoint hit-and-run raids, since the British media exploited them to the fullest. (The RAF smartly sent special camera planes along on some of the sorties to film the action.) With typical British understatement, they were called “nuisance raids.” Nuisance indeed: a four-aircraft attack on Gestapo headquarters in Oslo; a raid on the prison in Amiens that blew the walls to free 258 French Resistance fighters; six Mosquitos bombing an art gallery in The Hague that was packed with Gestapo records; raids on Gestapo HQ in the center of both Jutland and Copenhagen. (The press loved the fact that the Jutland raiders went in so low that one crew saw a Danish farmer in a field, saluting as they wailed by, and that during the Copenhagen raid the bombers literally flew down boulevards and banked into side streets.) Often the damage caused was light and collateral civilian losses were high—27 nuns and 87 children were killed in a Catholic school during the Copenhagen raid—but the effect on public morale was extreme. The Germans could run, but they couldn’t hide. Nobody was safe from the Wooden Wonder.

And why, exactly, was it wooden? Certainly because spruce, birch plywood and Ecuadorean balsa weren’t strategic materials and were in plentiful supply. Because furniture factories, cabinetmakers, luxury-auto coachbuilders and piano makers could quickly be turned into subcontractors. Because wood, particularly when covered with a thin layer of doped fabric, makes a remarkably smooth, drag-cheating surface free of rivets and seams. And battle damage could be repaired relatively easily in the field.

In April 1940, U.S. Army Air Forces General Hap Arnold brought to the U.S. a complete set of Mosquito blueprints, which were sent to five American aircraft manufacturers for comment. All were contemptuous of the British design, none more so than Beechcraft, which reported back, “This airplane has sacrificed serviceability, structural strength, ease of construction and flying characteristics in an attempt to use construction material that is not suitable for the manufacture of efficient airplanes.” Beech couldn’t have gotten it more wrong if they had tried.

Wood’s chief advantage is that it’s easy to work with and is a material that craftspeople have been shaping and hammering for millennia. It is sometimes assumed that a further benefit of wood was that it reduced a Mosquito’s radar signature, but with the short-range Luftwaffe night-fighter radar in use during the war, that doesn’t seem to have been a factor. A number of Mosquitos fell to He-219s and Me-410s in particular, perhaps because of the radar reflectivity of the big Merlin engines and their huge prop discs.

Wood is a composite, just as are the carbon/graphite-fiber materi­als used to make much of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and wood has the same qualities of strength, suppleness and light weight. Both wood and modern composites consist of tiny fibers suspended in a cellulose or polymer carrier—ingredients that by themselves have little strength but when combined create an extremely strong matrix.

One of the places where the RAF's wooden Mosquito fighter bomber is made is at the Walter Lawrence & Sons joinery works in Sawbridge, Hertfordshire.
One of the places where the RAF's wooden Mosquito fighter bomber is made is at the Walter Lawrence & Sons joinery works in Sawbridge, Hertfordshire.

Today composites are bonded under heat and pressure, but wood requires plain old gluing. Early Mosquitos were assembled using casein glues, which were exactly what you can buy today in any hardware store under the rubric “woodworker’s glue.” Casein glues are milk byproducts (which is why the most common brand, Elmer’s, has the familiar cattle-head logo), so they provide munchies for microorganisms, particularly when the environment is wet and warm, as was the case when the first Mosquitos were sent to Southeast Asia. In the Pacific theater, some Mosquito glues turned cheesy, and upper wing skins debonded from the main spar.

The solution turned out to be two-part urea-formaldehyde glue, which de Havilland began using in the spring of 1943. The urea glue was applied to one wooden surface and the formaldehyde cata­lyst brushed onto the other. When the two were clamped together, in some places with the simple pressure of tiny brass brads, a waterproof bond stronger than the wood itself was formed.


Mosquitos were internally coated with traditional marine varnishes, not nearly as waterproof as modern polyurethane coatings. So there were cases of Mosquito structural failures caused by simple wood rot—some among de Havilland of Canada–built airplanes, which were sometimes found to suffer from poorer workmanship and lower quality-control standards. A few Mosquitos—a total of 212—were also built in Australia, but that country had even bigger problems, with only a tiny cadre of aviation engineers and technicians to depend upon. The first 50 Australian-built Mosquito wings were so badly glued they had to be rebuilt.

The Mosquito was not an easy airplane to fly. As combat aircraft historian Bill Sweetman wrote in his book Mosquito, it was “a slightly nervous thoroughbred which could perform impressive feats in the hands of the courageous and competent…but would occasionally deal out a kick or a bite.” Its power-to-weight ratio and wing loading were both high, and its Vmc—the speed that needs to be maintained to assure rudder effectiveness with one engine feathered and the other running at full power—was, depending on load, an eye-watering 172 mph or more, probably the highest of any WWII twin. The much-maligned B-26 Marauder had a Vmc of about 160 mph.

There was a substantial no-man’s-land between liftoff and Vmc during which an engine failure was usually fatal. Below Vmc, power had to quickly be retarded on the good engine to keep the airplane from rolling, and this meant a loaded Mosquito could no longer maintain altitude. (As cynics have said, the only reason to have two engines on a piston twin is so the good one can take you to the scene of the accident.) When their mounts were fully gassed up and carrying a 4,000-pound blockbuster, Mosquito pilots learned to ignore normal liftoff speed and instead keep the airplane on the runway no matter how long it was and pull up when they were just 200 yards or so from the end.

The "Mossie" excelled in its role as a night fighter.
The "Mossie" excelled in its role as a night fighter.

On takeoff, most multiengine airplanes exhibit little or none of the torque-roll/P-factor/slipstream-effect yaw of a powerful single, but a Mosquito’s engines needed to be handled carefully. The effect on yaw of the long, powerful outthrust engines was substantial. Leading with the left engine and opening the throttles judiciously helped, but Mosquitos didn’t have locking tailwheels to hold a heading during the first part of the takeoff roll. So a pilot had to use differential braking to catch takeoff swings, and in typical Brit fashion, a Mosquito’s pneumatic brakes were actuated by the rudder pedals but modulated by air pressure controlled via a bicycle-brake-like lever on the control column. Not a natural process.

RAF Mosquito pilots were typically selected for their airmanship and experience, and they handled their Mosquitos with elite talent. The USAAF tried to operate 40 Mosquitos designated F-8 photoreconnaissance and meteorological aircraft, but they crashed many of them, some on the pilots’ very first Mosquito flights. (Granted, many of the crashes were due to mechanical problems.)

The F-8 program was a debacle, and in September 1944 it was canceled. It had been championed by Lt. Col. Elliott Roosevelt, FDR’s son, a low-time private pilot who had been forbidden to fly military aircraft. He trained as a navigator and loved the Mosquito because it let him fly as a crew member on missions over North Africa and the Mediterranean, which of course his unit’s Spitfires and F-4s—photorecon P-38s—couldn’t. Other Twelfth Air Force pilots weren’t so sanguine, and they wrote that “the Mosquito with low- and medium-altitude engines is useless for our purposes. With the Merlin 61 engine its usability has yet to be proven.”

Wright Field tested a Mosquito Mk. VII as part of the PR pro­gram and concluded it was “unstable in ascent at speed-of-best-climb. It was tail-heavy and unstable longitudinally during landing approach, especially with full fuselage tanks and center of gravity located near the aft limit, and rather precarious for inexperienced pilots to land in this condition.” The Pilot’s Flight Operating Instructions warned: “This airplane is NOT designed for the same manoeuvres as a single-engine fighter, and care must be taken not to impose heavy stresses by coarse use of elevators in pulling out of dives or in turns at high speed. Intentional spinning is NOT permitted. At high speeds violent use and reversal of the rudder at large angles of yaw are to be avoided….Tail heaviness and reduction of elevator control when the flaps are lowered is VERY MARKED….”

The Mosquito required unusually light control forces, and they remained light at high speeds. Many other fast aircraft were self-limiting; their controls heavied up at speed and made it hard for a clumsy pilot to pull the wings or tail off. Not so the Mosquito.

There were three basic branches on the Mosquito tree: bombers, fighters and photoreconnaissance types. Each had many variants, such as radar-equipped night fighters and bombers modified to carry 2-ton blockbusters. The bombers and photo planes were unarmed, while most of the fighters carried four .303 machine guns in the nose and four 20mm cannons under the cockpit floor, their receivers and ammunition-feed mechanisms extending back into the bomb bay. Fighter Command insisted that its Mosquitos be equipped with sticks rather than bomber yokes, despite the fact that pilots swore the yokes made the aircraft more maneuverable. The fighters are also easily recognizable by their flat windscreens, suitable for gunsights, rather than the bombers’ more aerodynamic vee screens.

There were Sea Mosquitos, though only 50 were built and the mark didn’t go into production until August 1946. Noted British test pilot Eric “Winkle” Brown did the original carrier-landing attempts, the first-ever multiengine aircraft carrier landings. Many were sure the shock of trapping would jerk the prototype Sea Mosquito’s tail right off, but the fuselage had been suitably strengthened. A far bigger danger was getting the Mosquito slow enough to make a reasonable carrier approach, and Brown knew he was flying on the back side of the power curve. The Mosquito had a vicious power-on stall that quickly snapped into a spin. “If we got low and slow on the approach it was going to be a fatality,” Brown later wrote, but he was able to hang the airplane on its props and get to the deck at just under 100 mph (a typical Mosquito approach was flown at 150 mph). As brave as Brown was, Indefatigable’s landing signal officer might have been braver. Photos of the first landing show “Paddles” standing on the centerline of the carrier deck, just ahead of the arresting cables. It was the only way Brown could see the LSO’s signals without their being obstructed by the left engine nacelle. Assumedly Paddles signaled “cut” and ran.

Folding wings and a torpedo fitted out the "Sea Mosquito"
Folding wings and a torpedo fitted out the "Sea Mosquito"

The biggest gun ever mounted in a Mosquito was a 57mm cannon called the Molins gun. It had a 25-round, rapid-fire ammunition feed designed and built by Molins, a formerly Cuban company that had become the world’s largest manufacturer of cigarette-making and -packaging equipment. The 75mm gun mounted in hardnose B-25G and H Mitchells was obviously larger, but it had to be manually reloaded by the bomber’s navigator, so its rate of fire was about one-sixth that of the Molins gun. Many doubted that the Mosquito’s structure could withstand the Molins’ recoil, but de Havilland needed just one day—the time it took the factory to saw the nose off a crashed Mosquito, mount the 12-foot-long gun and test-fire it—to prove them wrong. The barrel recoiled 18 inches and hosed out a gout of flame 15 to 20 feet long, but the wooden airframe was flexible enough to dampen the shock.

Mosquitos that carried the Molins were called “Tsetses,” after the deadly African fly. Their specialty was sub-hunting in the Bay of Biscay. The bay was so shallow that the German subs had to dash across while surfaced, and Tsetses picked off enough of them that soon the subs could only travel at night. Tsetses also destroyed more than a few Luftwaffe aircraft, and the effect of a 57mm projectile on, say, a Ju-88 was devastating.

Another unusual weapon was the Highball, a Mosquito-size version of Barnes Wallis’ famous Dambuster bouncing bomb. It was developed for use against Tirpitz, the German battleship hidden away in a Norwegian fjord. The Highball was to be spun up in flight—two were carried in the open bomb bay of each Mosquito—by power from a ram-air turbine, which must have been one of the first-ever uses of a RAT. Highballs would be dropped at very low altitude to bounce over the torpedo netting that protected Tirpitz and then crawl down the hull to explode well below the waterline.

Lancasters dropping 6-ton Tallboy bombs got to Tirpitz first, so the Highball airplanes and their weapons were sent to Australia to fly against the Japanese. Unfortunately, endless arguing about how the British carrier force should cooperate with the Americans who were running the Pacific War kept the Highballs hangared until war’s end, and they were ultimately destroyed as “secret weapons.”

The biggest postwar user of surplus Mosquitos was the Nationalist Chinese Air Force, which bought somewhere between 180 and 205 of them from Canada. But the Chinese pilots wrote them off at a rapid rate, ultimately destroying 60 of their Mosquitos. One was made into a nonflying taxi-trainer by locking the landing gear down and installing a network of bracing tubes between struts and fuselage, though the Chinese managed to crash even that one.

It’s hard to tell how many Mosquitos the Israeli Air Force operated, since their procurement methods in the late 1940s and early ’50s were so secretive, but they eventually may have had as many as 300. Those that flew operated mainly as photorecon aircraft, allowing the Israelis to snoop freely on their Arab neighbors. Despite the fact that the various Arab air forces were re-equipping with MiG-15s and the like, not a single IAF Mosquito was ever shot down, though repeated attempts were made to intercept them. The Mosquito’s combat career ended during the Suez Crisis, in 1956.

Exactly 7,781 Mosquitos were built, the last one on November 15, 1950; 6,710 of them were delivered during WWII. The Mosquito outlived its supposed successor, the wood-and-aluminum de Havilland Hornet, by several months of RAF service. A new, larger, Merlin-powered Mosquito Series 2 airframe had been planned but never built, and the conceptualized “Super Mosquito” suffered the same fate. The Super Mosquito was to have been powered by 24-cylinder Napier Sabre engines, with a crew of three, an 8,000-pound bombload and an estimated maximum speed of 430 mph.

In 1951 the Mosquito was finally replaced by the English Electric Canberra, a gunless 580-mph jet that was designed to fly fast and high enough to evade all pursuers. Sound familiar?

For further reading, contributing editor Stephan Wilkinson recommends: Mosquito, by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J. F. Bowyer; Mosquito: The Original Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, by Graham M. Simons; and Mosquito, by Bill Sweetman and Rikyu Watanabe.

32 Responses to The Miraculous Mosquito

  1. Phil Crowther says:

    I enjoyed the article. However, the notion that General LeMay permanently stripped the guns from the B-29s is one of those bits of B-29 lore that is absolutely incorrect. General LeMay supposedly gave that order in connection with the March bombing raids on Tokyo. Whether anyone actually did so is a matter of debate. However, after those raids, B-29s went into combat with a full set of guns which they put to good use. The only B-29s without turret guns were the limited edition “silverplate” models that were used by the atom bombers. In truth, B-29s were the epitome the flying fortress concept – so much so that they were called the “superfortress”.

    • Carl von Wodtke says:

      Thank you for your comments. While the “Silverplate” atomic bombers did indeed have their guns removed, they weren’t the only B-29s to serve in WWII in that configuration. The B-29B also had all guns deleted save for the tailguns.

      For a depiction of one, see our September 2014 cover illustration by Jack Fellows.

      Carl von Wodtke

  2. Nigel Hamley says:

    A very interesting and informative article. What impressed me was the skill require to fly these aircraft. My father flew Mosquitos as CO of 488 RNZAF squadron. Though I would ask him about the aircraft ( aged 6) he would never tell me any details as they were all “top secret” in those days, particularly the radar. Extraordinarily as a result of the internet I have made contact with the grandson of my fathers navigator P/O Broodbank. They flew together often when the Squadron was based at Bradwell Bay in Essex

    • miked10270 says:

      I think you would enjoy reading ‘Night Flyer’ by Lewis Brandon, who was Wing Commander Burton-Gyles R/O before flying with with Peter Hamley.

      • Nigel Hamley says:

        Thank you miked10270. I will get onto it straight away. Very kind of you to contact me and greatly appreciated.

      • miked10270 says:

        Brandon writes about his time as Navigator Leader of 488 Sqn in chapters 8 & 9 of his book, but the whole book is very readable. I’m sure it’s still available new.

  3. The Oatmeal Savage says:

    Too bad your site is unreadable because of the shit at the top of the page and the popup videos.

    Oh well…..

  4. Garry Kearns says:

    Interesting story thanks for publishing

  5. Shuzo says:

    I assume the author lumps the Lancasters, Halifaxs, B-24’s, etc under the B-17 label in his statements about the end of defensive gun armaments in bombers. What about the B-29/50 in Korea? were they also degunned?

    • stepwilk says:

      Did I say that??? The “end of defensive gun armament” came well after the days of Lancasters, Halifaxes and B-24s. I don’t know, without doing some research, about B-29s over Korea. B-50s only flew very briefly over Korea before they were withdrawn.

    • miked10270 says:

      It would be more accurate to say that the Mosquito marked the step change in defensive guns for British bombers. After the Mosquito proved the no-gun concept, defensive guns on new designs of bombers died out quickly. Bear in mind that by that time the B29 was in production, the B-36 was very close, and the B52 was specified. Later designs such as the B47 had no defensive armament.
      Similarly in Russia, for as long as Tupolev clung on to the basic TU4(B29) fuselage design, they clung on to the tail gun position.

  6. James Marshall says:

    “The Mosquito was an unarmed bomber with a crew of two, able to carry a bigger bomb load farther than a B-17.”

    Ludicrous. According to my research the Mosquito carries at MAX about half the bomb load of the B-17, not a greater bomb load; normally 2000 lbs (but a few modified to carry the 4000 lb “cookie” blockbuster bomb) in the Mosquito vs 4500 lb bomb load on long range missions, 8000 lb on missions 400 miles or less and up to 17,500 lbs in “overload” mode. A simple glance at the two planes should tell an aviation writer this.

    • stepwilk says:

      My point was not that the Mosquito could carry a bigger bomb load than a B-17 but that it could carry the same or greater load FARTHER. Having flown the B-17G (though not a Mosquito), I’m familiar with its capabilities.

      • Keith says:

        The question would be then, why didn’t British Air Planners send the Mosquitos on mass Air Raids the way the Americans sent B-17’s?

      • stepwilk says:

        They already had the Lancaster, which carried about four times the bomb load of a B-17. And Mosquitos were vastly more useful in other kinds of missions.

      • Keith says:

        Bomb Load difference between the B-17 and the Lancaster was strictly due to Payload Allocation.

        There’s nothing special about the Lancaster, other than the fact that the Lancaster’s Loss Rate was significantly higher than the B-17, even though the B-17 flew in broad daylight in full view of the Luftwaffe.

      • A Nother says:

        Oh god, not another blinkered yank with an inferiority complex? You need to take the patriotic goggles off and actually do some *real* research.

      • taildraggin says:

        We didn’t know that the Mosquito saved Britain:

        Dad flew in B-29s and it *was* a bitch. It couldn’t fly on one engine, with or without a single war-ending bomb aboard.

      • Dave Alexander says:

        You arrogant fool,nothing special about the Lancaster, what was so special your B52? The Lancaster could fly at a push on 1 Engine,could any of your Bombers? The Lanc had a superior Air-frame better than what most of what your Kites had.RIP!

      • miked10270 says:

        What was “special” about the Lancaster was its 33′ long & 8′ wide completely unobstructed bomb bay. The first bomber that was actually designed around the bomb bay. Prior to that, Governments would focus their bomber specifications on speed, altitude & range performance with bomb load & bomb bay size almost an afterthought. This was why the Lancaster lent itself to production of the “B-special” bombers which carried the 10 ton Grand Slam & the Bouncing Bomb.
        An unmodified Lancaster could (& routinely did) carry a 12,000lb Tallboy bomb internally while the largest bomb the B17 could carry internally was 500lb.

      • Keith says:

        The British Bombers had a Horrendous Loss Rate

        The Americans wouldn’t fly with that loss rate

      • Dave Alexander says:

        The “Mossie” was designed as a Hit, Bomb and get out.It also much faster than the US P38, which was fabled to be very quick, and what did you have as good as the Spitfire or Hurricane?

      • Nick H says:

        I mean…I *shouldnt* use wikipedia to debate but…

        B17: Range: 2,000 mi (1,738 nmi, 3,219 km) with 2,700 kg (6,000 lb) bombload

        Mosquito: Range: 1,300 nmi (1,500 mi (2,400 km)) with full weapons load (4,000 lb)

        so how again are you calculating this larger load farther claim?????

    • miked10270 says:

      The B17 could carry a far greater bomb load than a Mosquito, but bomb loads over 5,000lb carried internally really ate into its speed & range. thus at 4,000-5,000lb bomb loads & at similar altitudes the Mosquito would indeed fly further & faster, but IF you needed a heavier bomb load then there was no substitute for a B-17.
      By the end of WW2 the Mosquito was ALMOST doing the job of a heavy bomber.

  7. Shuzo says:

    “the Mosquito turned out to be the first of its kind and the B-17 the last of its line. Never since have bombers truly been armed defensively…
    Since the day when the Mosquito went naked, guns on a bomber have been like tits on a boar.”, e
    The B29/50 in Corea were not degunned. They were withdrawn from day bombing due to losses to the MiG 15s.
    I love the Mosquito, its construction technique, the story of it’s creators persevering against the orthodoxy, its success etc. Nonetheless, there does seem to be some hyperbole in the above story. The B29 was only stripped in the torching of Japan. Thereafter the guns were reinstalled. Many of the later jet bombers had a tail gun as you note.. As missiles became the mode of attack, a tail cun obviously became superfluous.

  8. miked10270 says:

    I believe the largest gun carried on a Mosquito was the 3.7″ (95mm) 32-pounder anti-aircraft/anti-tank gun. It was in a variation of the Mollins gun mount and had a Gaillot muzzle brake.
    12 were built very late in the war but didn’t fly until Summer 1945. It was test flown & successfully fired, pronounced a “stupendous device”, and scrapped as unneccessary.

  9. Paul Hacker says:

    Sorry but the Mosquito was not, defiantly not, a day fighter. Neither as a air superiority nor escort fighter. It did not have the roll rate, climb rate, turn rate, nor acceleration to be one. Never was used as one either. I think the British knew it would be like a ME-110 but without a tail gunner if they tried that (and the ME-110 failed at those two roles.)

    The only truly successful twin engine fighter was the P-38. All others could not survive in an environment with enemy single engine fighters.

    • Paul Bantick says:

      I suggest you think again about ‘escort fighter’ as it was employed many times in this roll for escorting other ‘ladened’ Mosquitoes, Havocs and Mitchells on daylight sorties. One notable combat has 5 FW 190’s shot down in a dogfight for 2 Mosquitoes.

      The P38 was a single-seater fighter with nowhere near the versatility of the Mosquito.

      Best you do some research….A surprise will be in store for you.

  10. Paul Bantick says:

    The He 219 mentioned shot down all of 11 Mosquitoes between June 1943 and April 1945. All the victories occurring in 1944. The Mosquito on the other hand, shot down 19 He219.

    About 300 He219 were built which made it a rarity. but going head to head shows it was no contest.

    About 50 Me410’s also mentioned in the above article, were shot down (I haven’t got any info of Mosquito losses to the 410) The night-fighter defence of the UK Mosquitoes had N 2O (Nitrous oxide) capability which gave the Mosquito an extra 12 mph 4,000ft and an extra 47mph at 28,000ft, which gave the NF MK XIII a top speed of about 440mph. at 28,000ft and about 390mph at 4,000ft using this system for 6 minutes duration.

    The fastest in-service Mosquito was the NF Mk 30 had a top speed of 425mph (Without the aid N 2O) and came into service in mid 1944. before that time the fastest was the MK XVI at 415mph (Though the PR MkVIII was said to be able to belt along at 439mph).

    The P38 (also mentioned in the posts) failed as a viable Photo Reconnaissance aircraft in Europe. The US employed PR Spitfire XI and PR Mosquito (RAF and USAAF) instead. The P38 also failed to be able escort SAAF PR Mosquitoes flying from northern Italy late in the war. The P38’s were supposed to escort them due to the Me262 threat but had to be abandoned due to the P38 not being able to keep up with the high cruising speeds.

    The record in daylight air combat records between fighter-bomber versions of the Mosquito and Luftwaffe fighters were about equal. Mosquitoes were also used as escorts for other ‘ladened’ Mosquitoes, Beaufighters, Havoc’s and Mitchells on daylight raids.

    It was the high sustained cruising speeds that made the Mosquito fast. When ladened and being escorted by Mustangs, they had to reduce their cruising speed so the mustangs could keep up.

    The PR and B Mk XVI could (and did) fly at 35,000ft and cruise at 350mph. The only threat to these were the Me262 and heavy flak that could reached up to 40,000.

    The Sea Mosquito TR Mk 33 was able to operate from aircraft carriers (though this never actually happened) It could carry an 18inch torpedo and had folding wings.

  11. emru says:

    The Mosquito was also made of wood and not mettle. This not only made them lighter, but much easier and quicker to repair any gunfire damage it received in battle. At first it had one rear facing gun for it’s own defence. This was later removed to give it extra range. It was said that it could out run any other aircraft of the time, hence the removal of the gun. It could also fly at an altitude of at least 40,000 ft which put it above most of the fighters of the time. This was it’s main defence.
    It made a perfect pathfinder for the night bombers which were following it on night raids. It would fly at very at very low level under the radar following the paths of rivers to it’s target. On identifying the target, the Mosquito would climb to high altitude and mark the target in a circular or square pattern with flairs suspended from slow falling parachutes.
    All the bombers had to do was to drop their bombs into the circle or square. There would also be another Mosquito master bomber flying at high altitude to call in the next wave of bombers after the previous wave had just left.
    The fatality rate of the Mosquito was only 10% of that of other bombers. This was one of the reasons why most bomber pilots wanted to fly them, BUT. Only the best and most experienced of pilots and navigators would be selected to fly them.

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