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de Havilland Mosquito

De Havilland Mosquito

In October 1938 the design team under Geoffrey de Havilland, with R.E. Bishop and C.C. Walker, started work on a light bomber constructed entirely of wood to offset the demand for strategically vital materials that war would inevitably bring. After a 1940 order of 50, built to Specification B, I/ 40, the first prototype de Havilland Mosquito flew on 25 November 1940, powered by two 1,460-hp (1089-kW) Merlin 21s. It displayed the most outstanding performance from the very start, being faster than the RAF's contemporary interceptor fighters. Of the initial production batch 10 were converted to de Havilland Mosquito B.Mk IV Series I light bombers with glazed nose and internal bomb bays: the first of these, W4072, flew for the first time on 8 September 1941. The main production version was the Mosquito B.Mk IV Series II which had Merlin 21, 23 or 25 engines in lengthened nacelles. No. 105 Squadron, then based at Marham in No. 2 (Bomber) Group, received its first Mosquito B.Mk IVs in the spring of 1942. Its first mission was to Köln on 31 May 1942, the morning after the 'One Thousand Bomber' raid. Crews learned to use the Mosquito's speed as the primary method of evading enemy fighters, for the type was entirely unarmed. Low-altitude missions with shallow-dive approaches to the target soon proved to be the Mosquito bomber's forte by day, and one of No. 105 Squadron's first major attacks was a daring low-level strike on the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo. Such was the demand for Mosquitoes as reconnaissance and night-fighter aircraft that bomber units were slow in formation: by the autumn of 1942, No. 139 Squadron was working up on Mosquito B.Mk IVs. Both Nos 105 and 139 Squadrons were over Berlin on the morning of 30 January 1943, and caused fury and consternation during a series of speeches by Nazi leaders who were celebrating an anniversary of the Führer's appointment as Chancellor of the Third Reich. Reconnaissance and bomber Mosquitoes roamed over Germany and the occupied territories at will during 1943-4.
The specialist Jagdgruppen Nrn 25 and 50 were formed in the Luftwaffe in 1943 with souped-up Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 fighters, but gained no success. In Bomber Command 54 Mosquito B.Mk IVs weremodified with bulged bomb bays to carry a single 1814-kg (4,000-lb) HC bomb, and these served in the Fast Night Striking Force equipped with Oboe Mk I-III. Canada built the Mosquito B.Mk VII with 1,418-hp (1057kW) Packard Merlin 31s. Fifty-four Mosquito B.Mk IX aircraft with extra bombload and Merlin 72 engines were produced. The most efficient was the Mosquito B.Mk XVI with a pressurized cabin, comprehensive navigational equipment and a bulged bomb bay. Canada's de Havilland subsidiary also produced the Mosquito B.Mk XX and Mosquito B.Mk 25 before the war's end. Production totalled 7,785.

Specification de Havilland Mosquito B.Mk XVI

Type: two-seat medium bomber
Powerplant: two 1,680-hp (1253-kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 72 V-12 piston engines
Performance: maximum speed 656 km/h (408 mph) at 7925 m (26,000 ft); cruising speed 394 km/h (245 mph); initial climb rate 853 m (2,800 ft) per minute; service ceiling 11280 m (37,000 ft); maximum range 2389 km (1,485 miles)
Weights: empty 6638 kg (14,635 lb); maximum take-off 10433 kg (23,000 lb)
Dimensions: span. 16.51 m (54 ft 2 in); length 12.47 m (40 ft 11 in); height 3,81 m (12 ft 6 in); wing area 42.18 m2 (454 sq ft)
Armament: four 227-kg (500-lb) bombs internally and two more under wings, or one 1814-kg (4,000-lb)bomb
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