de Havilland Mosquito B Mk.IV

A famous and well regarded type both during the War and after, the Mosquito filled a wide variety of roles.

img_0245

Let’s take a look at a pure bomber variant.

Geoffrey de Havilland’s company had developed a number of racers and light airliners in the 1930s that were pioneering in their aerodynamics and construction.  Mainly, that means they were fast.
At the same time, the Royal Air Force was looking at a number of bigger, long range bombers that could penetrate deep into enemy territory.  Some effort was also made towards modern but smaller bombers for tactical roles.  Some in the RAF wanted light, fast types that could rely on speed as their primary defense.  But experience with the Bristol Blenheim had made most skeptical about this end.  The biggest obvious problem being that even if a fast bomber was built, someone else would build a faster fighter in short order.  Especially since this was a period of rapid development in engines and aerodynamics.  No matter how advanced a design, by the time it was engineered with a bomb load, bomb aiming, defensive armament and other systems; it had already been surpassed by a smaller, cheaper fighter.
deHavilland thought he could skip a generation ahead.  He knew how to build a very low drag airframe and Rolls-Royce’s new Merlin engine had tons of potential for growth.  He also had the idea of working with a lightweight wood laminate; which had very appealing strength to weight numbers in addition to being a non-strategic resource.

img_0247

img_0248

img_0249

Getting the plane built would still prove to be a challenge due to external events; mainly, a war.  Serious design work started in October 1939, a month into World War II.  Actual construction of the prototype started in March of 1940.  In June of that year France was defeated and Britain was faced with a true national emergency. The Air Ministry ordered all effort to focus on five primary combat types (Spitfire, Hurricane, Wellington, Whitley and Blenheim) plus some essential trainers and transports.  A prototype of a plane that wouldn’t be produced for two years was not a priority, so it was ordered stopped.
But deHavilland appealed the decision and guaranteed that all priority work would continue AND 50 new Mosquitos would be delivered by the end of 1941.  This promise was not met, only 20 Mosquitos were done by then; but otherwise deHavilland was good at his word and the new type quickly proved its worth.

img_0246

The Mosquito was extraordinarily versatile.  Two obvious differences in early types were a bombardier (clear) nose or gun (solid) nose.  And these could be bombers, recon, fighter-bomber or night fighter types.  Add in specialized naval strike and later higher output engines and the proliferation of Marks and missions was amazing.

img_0250

The Mosquito B Mk IV at left and NF Mk II at right are very closely related.  Difference in nose and canopy are apparent, the NF also has radar.  The bomber version is lighter unloaded.

This particular aircraft was a part of Bomber Command’s Pathfinder force from 1943 to the end of the War, extraordinary longevity for a combat aircraft.  The primary mission was to fly ahead of the main bomber force and drop flares or ground markers (usually incendiaries, something to burn long and bright) on the primary target so the main effort could be concentrated at that point.  They also flew a number of diversionary or spoofing raids, sometimes even marking non-targets for the night just to confuse the Luftwaffe.  Further, the B Mk IV was plenty capable as a bomber and they would often hit targets apart from the Main Force purely for their own sake.  In fact, when Bomber Command’s “Battle of Berlin” wound down in February of 1944 the great city was mostly just targeted by Mosquitos for the rest of the War.  And as to the Mosquito’s value as a pure bomber; it carried almost the bomb load of a B-17 at almost the same range…   at twice the speed…   with a two man crew.

De Havilland Mosquito

A B Mk IV taking on its load.

img_0003

A look at the bomb bay.  Normal load is 2000 lbs, but the Mosquito was powerful enough and sturdy enough that some, with bulged bomb bay doors, could carry a single 4000 lb “Cookie”.

img_0251

This is the Tamiya kit.  It was built alongside one of that company’s new P-38 Lightning kits, and its fascinating to see how state-of-the-art has changed in 20 years.  No doubt this kit is well engineered and vastly superior to the old Monogram kit many of us built as kids.  Everything went together well here with a nice balance between buildability and fine detail.

~ Dave 

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
This entry was posted in Bomber - Strategic, Britain and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to de Havilland Mosquito B Mk.IV

  1. It’s just a beautiful aircraft no matter what angle you look at it from, and that’s a really nice example you have put together.

  2. jfwknifton says:

    Your finished model has really done justice to a beautiful aircraft. I saw a list once of the countries that supplied the wood for the Mosquito and it truly was a whole world effort. That use of wood was its weakness as well as its strength, though. If you had a crash in a Mosquito, you had little protection, even for a belly landing.
    You rightly point out that the Mosquito carried “almost the bomb load of a B-17 at almost the same range… at twice the speed… with a two man crew.” And that comparison could even be extended to the Lancaster, where casualties were enormous. As far as I remember, for the Mosquito, it was 0·5%.

    • atcDave says:

      I hadn’t heard that about sourcing the wood! But I’m pretty sure Balsa is a primary type and I’m sure that’s not native to England! So I can’t say it surprises me it was a widespread project.
      Another failing for the Mosquito was operations in tropical climates. Wood construction and new glue compounds were not really intended for high heat and humidity.
      But obviously the advantages gained were significant.

      It always amuses me that Mosquito night fighters triggered something known as “Mosquito panic” in the Luftwaffe’s night fighter force. Now I should mention I’m often highly skeptical of such nicknames being applied to enemy aircraft. ‘Whispering Death”, “Fork Tailed Devil” and such are clearly allied propaganda and complete nonsense.
      But I’ve read German pilot accounts about the “Mosquito Panic”; as undignified and ridiculous as it sounds, it was apparently quite real!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I do recall accounts of how the British let leak tales of a program to improve pilot’s night vision, in part due to a diet rich in carrots, to cover the fact that they had developed a radar that fit in a plane. The German response was to put their pilots on a diet high on carrots to improve their night vision.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah that was highly successful misinformation! Greatly helped by the fact German scientists had previously concluded it was “impossible” to fit any radar system on an aircraft.
        With only a couple of notable exceptions, radar and electronics remained an area of clear allied superiority throughout the War.

  3. Ernie Davis says:

    The Mosquito was always a favorite of mine, probably second only to the Spitfire among British aircraft. Though I admit I’m more partial to the night fighter variants or the fighter/bomber. The fighter/bomber if I recall had some great success in some tactical bombing raids, including one that freed a large number of French resistance fighters from custody.

    • atcDave says:

      Yes that’s right. It was a ferocious little aircraft. I think, all told, this is the fourth Mosquito I’ve built in my life but the first bomber.
      We had one fly at Thunder Over Michigan a few years back. It is fast and beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s