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