Air Weapons

Light Bomber (1941)

de Havilland



Without a doubt one of the most versatile and remarkable aircraft of the war, the de Havilland Mosquito performed admirably in practically every role imaginable from light bomber to night fighter to reconnaissance. The Mosquito was made primarily of plywood and carried no defensive armament, relying on its impressive speed and nimble fight characteristics to elude the Germans. It's first role was that of a light bomber, appearing unexpectedly inside occupied Europe bombing priority targets as deep as Berlin and equipped with bombing aids like Oboe path finding radar. During the great night bombing offensive, Mosquitoes were equipped with airborne radar and soon became the primary British night fighter of the war, and more than a match for most German equivalents. Among the Mosquito's other roles were photo reconnaissance and and anti-shipping strike for which it was armed with a nose-mounted 57-mm cannon. Mosquitos were also built in Canada and Australia and served in every theater that Commonwealth forces were involved in with other users being New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA. Overall and true to its name, the Mosquito was the ultimate nuisance weapon which haunted the Germans until the end of the conflict: among its most famous missions were strikes against Gestapo headquarters in The Hague, the bombing of a French prison filled with resistance fighters, and even an attack against a Berlin broadcasting station which interrupted a speech by Hermann Göring himself.

The D.H.98 prototype first flew on 25 November 1940. Four major classes of Mosquitos were built, the first of which were the photo-reconnaissance versions which began with the PR.I, the first Mosquito variant to enter service and which was fast enough to outrun a Bf 109. A supercharged Merlin 72/73 engine was introduced in the PR.IX and the PR.XVI, the main mid-war variant while late-war models included the PR.32 and PR.34, this one becoming the RAF's principal post-war photo-recon aircraft. The next major class of Mosquitos were the bombers. They began with the B.IV which began operations in 1942 performing raids deep into Germany with minimal losses. Subsequent bombers were adapted for high-altitude missions, these were the B.IX which also had external stores, the B.XVI with a pressurized cabin, and the B.35 which had increased range but was used post-war. Mosquitos were also adapted into excellent night fighters, by far the RAF's finest of the war. The basic F.II was a day-fighter while the NF.II was equipped with AI radar. Subsequent variants different mostly on account of powerplant configuration and radar type, these were the NF.XIII, NF.XIX, and NF.30. Conversions of either bomber and earlier night fighter units resulted in the NF.XII and NF.XVII from NF.IIs and the NF.XV from B.IVs, post-war models included the NF.36 and NF.38, the latter being the last British-produced Mosquitos. Lastly, the Mosquito fighter-bombers were most widely produced of all despite only two main variants being developed: the FB.VI and the FB.VIII of which only a couple dozen were built. These aircraft were equipped with a bewildering array of armament and were involved in a number of spectacular missions over Europe and with Coastal Command also. Other variants included the T.III dual-control trainer and the TR.33 and TR.37 torpedo-reconnaissance aircraft. Lastly, Canadian-built variants were generally based on British designations, these were the B.VII (B.V), B.XX (B.VII), FB.21 (FB.VI), PR.40 and FB.40 (FB.VI) with a number of trainer versions also produced.

Preceded by:

Blenheim (1937)

Succeeded by:

Canberra (1951)


DesignMosquito B.IVMosquito NF.IIMosquito FB.VIMosquito PR.34
TypeLight BomberNight FighterFighter-BomberReconnaissance
Length12.43 m12.45 m12.45 m12.65 m
Height4.648 m4.648 m4.648 m4.648 m
Wing Span16.51 m16.51 m16.51 m16.51 m
Wing Arean/an/an/an/a
Empty6,759 kg6,486 kg6,486 kg7,544 kg
Maximum10,115 kg9,072 kg10,115 kg11,567 kg
Wing Loading239.8 kg/m²215.1 kg/m²239.8 kg/m²274.2 kg/m²
Speed612 km/h595 km/h612 km/h684 km/h
Ceiling10,363 m10,516 m10,058 m10,973 m
Range1,786 km1,432 km2,044 km5,632 km
Engine2 x Merlin 21
917 kW
2 x Merlin 23
1,089 kW
2 x Merlin 25
1,219 kW
2 x Merlin 76/113
1,275 kW
Guns-4 x 20-mm
Hispano Mk. II
4 x .303-in
Browning Mk. II
4 x 20-mm
Hispano Mk. II
4 x .303-in
Browning Mk. II
Payload907 kg-907 kg-