deHavilland Mosquito B-MK-IV “Mossie”

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

— Stephan Wilkinson,

Aviation History Magazine.

 

Strengths:

Speed  – Once it gets to altitude, the Mosquito can outrun most contemporary fighters, particularly after dropping its bombs.

Agility  – The Mosquito handles and performs so well, it is easy to forget you are flying a bomber.

 

Weaknesses:

Defense  – Without defensive guns, the Mosquito must rely on its speed to evade enemy planes.

 

 

The idea of having a bomber that was fast enough to outrun fighter opposition was not a new one and in most cases was not a successful idea. The lone except to this rule in WWII was the deHavilland Mosquito “Mossie”, a plane that is revered for both its aesthetic lines and its war record.

The Mosquito’s genesis can be traced back to a 1936 Air Ministry specification calling for a bomber with a range of 3,000 miles, a payload of 4,000 lbs. and a cruise speed of 275 mph. Of course, aircraft engines weren’t powerful enough then to fulfill this requirement and deHavilland’s entry fell short by 15 mph.

By September 1939 the Air Ministry and deHavilland compromised on a specification calling for a reconnaissance/bomber weighing less than 20,000 lbs with a ceiling of 32,100 feet and a top speed of 397 mph. Work on the design for the DH 98, as the model was called, began in earnest. However, with the fall of France in 1940, all efforts were geared towards defense of the home islands and the Mosquito was shelved.

However, being made primarily of wood and thus not having an impact on production of existing plane designs, the company was allowed to continue development of the air frame. Finally, on November 25, 1940, the first prototype, bearing a bright yellow paint job, made its maiden flight.

Despite being designed as a bomber, the prototype was tested for the reconnaissance role.  The plane’s agility and performance sparked interest in using the Mosquito as a heavy fighter. The original production order for fifty bombers was thus amended to be ten Mosquito I photo-recon planes, thirty Mosquito II night fighters and ten Mosquito IV bombers. The Mosquito III designation was reserved for a dual-control training version to be produced sometime in the future.

One problem that was discovered during the initial production run was excessive tail buffeting caused by disturbed airflow over the engine nacelles. Therefore, in the subsequent production runs, the nacelles were lengthened so that they extended beyond the trailing edge of the wing. The ten Mk.IV bombers produced under the original production run were thus designated as “Series I”, while subsequent Mk.IVs were designated “Series II” aircraft.

Originally designed to carry four 250 lb. bombs, it was found that four 500 lb bombs could be fit into the bomb bay if they had their stabilizing fins shortened. The first Mosquito raid took place on May 31, 1942, when four Mk.IVs made an attack on Cologne the day after the first “thousand bomber” raid. The Mosquito soon gained a reputation for making high-speed, precision attacks on high-value targets.

 

Sources:
Green, William; Famous Bombers of the Second World War; Doubleday and Company, Garden City, NY; 1958.
Scutts, Jerry; Tempest/Mosquito In Action Part I; Squadron/Signal Publications; Carrollton,  TX; 1992.

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Mosquito B-MK-IV

The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito is a British multi-role combat aircraft with a two-man crew which served during and after the Second World War. It was one of few operational front-line aircraft of the era constructed almost entirely of wood and was nicknamed “The Wooden Wonder”.[4][nb 1] The Mosquito was also known affectionately as the “Mossie” to its crews.[5] Originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber, the Mosquito was adapted to roles including low to medium-altitude daytime tactical bomber, high-altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike aircraft, and fast photo-reconnaissance aircraft. It was also used by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) as a fast transport to carry small high-value cargoes to, and from, neutral countries, through enemy-controlled airspace.[6] A single passenger could be carried in the aircraft’s bomb bay, which would be adapted for the purpose.

 

Strengths:

Firepower  – The Yak-9UT’s 37mm and twin 20mm cannons give it an incredible salvo weight of 13.2 lbs. per second.

Speed  – A top speed of over 400 mph gives the Yak-9UT performance on par with the best planes of each country.

Weaknesses:

Durability – Small and light, the Yak was incapable of absorbing much combat damage.

Range  – A thirsty engine and small fuel capacity limits the Yak’s range.

Ammo Load – The fast firing 37mm cannon goes through its supply of 30 rounds in a surprising hurry.

 

 

 

The de Havilland Mosquito operated in many roles during the Second World War, being tasked to perform medium bomber, reconnaissance, tactical strike, anti-submarine warfare and shipping attack and night fighter duties, both defensive and offensive, until the end of the war.[92]

In July 1941, the first production Mosquito W 4051 (a production fuselage combined with some prototype flying surfaces – see section of Article “Prototypes and test flights”) was sent to No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU), operating at the time at RAF Benson.[93] Consequently, the secret reconnaissance flights of this aircraft were the first active service missions of the Mosquito. In 1944, the journal Flight[94] gave 19 September 1941 as date of the first PR mission, at an altitude “of some 20 000 ft.”

On 15 November 1941, 105 Squadron, RAF, took delivery of the first operational Mosquito Mk. B.IV bomber, serial no. W4064.[95] Throughout 1942, 105 Sdn., based at RAF Horsham St. Faith, then from 29 September, RAF Marham, undertook daylight low-level and shallow dive attacks. Apart from the famous Oslo raid, these were mainly on industrial targets in occupied Netherlands, plus northern and western Germany.[96] The crews faced deadly flak and fighters, particularly FW 190s, which they called “snappers.” Germany still controlled Continental airspace, and the FW 190’s were often already airborne and at an advantageous altitude. It was the Mosquito’s excellent handling capabilities, rather than pure speed, that facilitated those evasions that were successful.[97] During this daylight-raiding phase, aircrew losses were high – even the losses incurred in the squadron’s dangerous Blenheim era were exceeded in percentage terms. The Roll of Honour shows 51 aircrew deaths from the end of May 1942 to April 1943.[98] In the corresponding period, crews gained three Mentions in Despatches, two DFMs and three DFCs.

 

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Sources:
 Stepaniets, A.; ‘Yak’ Fighters of WWII Period; Mashinostroenie Publishing, Moscow; 1992.
Stapfer, Hans-Heiri; Yak Fighters In Action; Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, TX; 1986.
Gordon, Yefim and Khazanov, Dmitri; Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War Volume One: Single-Engine Fighters; Midland Publishing Limited, Leicester, England; 1998.