The Internet Museum of World War II Aviation | home
Great Britain | Blackburn Roc | Firebrand | Defiant | Beaufighter | Mosquito | Fairey Firefly | Fairey Fulmar | Gladiator | Gloster Meteor | Hawker Hurricane | Hawker Tempest | Hawker Typhoon | Spitfire
Great Britain was very fond of their twin engine utility aircraft, and the De Havilland Mosquito was the best of the group. It was, arguably, the most versatile aircraft used during World War Two, its competitors being the Beaufighter and Junkers 88. For much of the war, the Mosquito was faster than its enemy fighters, and it was built almost entirely of wood. It was first concieved to be a bomber that could out perform enemy fighters, and utilize the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. A quick note about the Merlin, almost every aircraft in the War that used it excelled beyond that of its former configuration, ie the P-51 Mustang, P-39 Airacobra, Beaufighter, etc. All these aircraft (and more) adopted the Merlin after trying other engines and disliking them. The Mosquito however used the Merlin right away.
In 1917, Geoffrey de Havilland bulit the D.H.4, which was to become one of the First World Wars most successful aircraft, and by far ythe most successful light bomber. The company of de Havillands aircraft was Airco, and from it the immortal phrase Airco DH4 shall forever endure. But after the Armistice, no industry suffered more than perhaps the military aircraft builders, and Airco nearly ran entirely out of business. After the RAF emerged as a seperate branch of service than the Army, and the Royal Army Air Service was no more, de Havilland found a new, hardly inexhaustible source of business and a new chance for him and his company to succeed. De Havilland became very famous for his high speed twin engined racing aircraft, and the design of the Mosquito came almost naturally for such a designer based on a career of high speed wooden aircrft production.
It was soon discovered that the Mosquito had much potential for a fighter, but official intrest was limited. However, four 20-mm cannons were installed in the first drawings, showing trememdous foresight, because they were eliminated from the first models, which were without gun armament. The idea from the beginning was to be empty of all weight except petrol, engines, and bombs, to be able to outspeed enemy fighters. Anyways, this set up was soon thought to be rather risky, and it was thought after the Blackburn Roc and Boulton Paul Defiant disasters that there should be a few forward firing guns. Though many Mosquitoes fought with bombs and rockets only, many more were given very heavy armament in the nose and used as fighters.
After a few slight changes to accommodate the guns, the first Mosquitoes entered service in mid-1942 as a night fighter. Armament was four .303-calibre machine guns and four 20-mm cannon, all centralized in the nose. Radar was also fitted. Uses for the Mosquito were endless, and they saw action as fighters, night fighters, anti submarine, anti shipping, meduim bomber, reconnaissance, interceptors, intruders, and many other services.
Because it was wooden, it was highly fragile and could only take a few hits before being fatally stricken. However, because of their speed they could usually escape danger before they were hit. Some Mosquitoes were even used from aircraft carriers, striking an enemy position from the sea and escaping before taking any damage.