The De Havilland Mosquito was an outstanding aircraft and this book does it full justice, at least in the bomber and strike variants. The readable text is well supported with three photographic sections and the price is very aggressive for the size and quality of the book. Those purchasing on-line from the publisher’s bookshop will find an even lower price with the current discount.
NAME: Mosquito Menacing the Reich, Combat Action in the Twin Engine Wooden Wonder of World War II
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, 1939-1945, Second World War, RAF, bombers, strike aircraft, Mosquito, technology, non strategic war materials
DESCRIPTION: The De Havilland Mosquito was an outstanding aircraft and this book does it full justice, at least in the bomber and strike variants. The readable text is well supported with three photographic sections and the price is very aggressive for the size and quality of the book. Those purchasing on-line from the publisher’s bookshop will find an even lower price with the current discount. As Britain prepared for war it was realized that strategic war materials could rapidly become difficult to find and demand for aircraft and ships would place great pressure on the main factories, making it desirable to farm work out to smaller companies and even to those that had not previously produced combat aircraft and boats, or components required in their manufacture. For the Royal Navy, the innovative Fairmile designs for flat pack warships was one solution, producing a kit of parts brought together from all over Britain and from very small companies and groups of craftsmen, with the assembled kits then being sent to small shipyards and yacht builders for rapid assembly, using the minimum of strategic war materials to created scaled down wooden destroyers and other coastal craft. The aviation industry followed similar approaches to producing designs for emergency fighters, bomber aircraft and assault gliders. In the event, Britain was able to increase production of metal Hurricanes and Spitfires to meet the need for home defence fighters and to import aircraft from the US and Canada. Wooden troop and cargo gliders were to be built in some numbers, but only the Mosquito came into service from the wooden designs prepared in the run up and early days of war. While some of the wooden single engine fighter designs might have struggled to achieve the performance of the Hurricane and Spitfire, the Mosquito was to prove an incredibly formable and versatile aircraft. Taking two Rolls Royce Merlin engines and fitting them to a very clean and sleek fuselage and wings constructed by laminating wood, De Havilland produced an aircraft that could carry a similar bomb load to some heavy bombers and achieve a speed greater than contemporary fighters. The performance was so spectacular that US commanders prohibited their pilots from racing against the Mosquito to avoid embarrassment and urgently pressed the British for large numbers of Mosquito aircraft to be allocated to the USAAF. The author has concentrated his attention on the bomber and strike variants of the Mosquito. The versatility of the design made the Mosquito suitable for adaptation to serve as a night fighter, carrier aircraft, interdiction fighter, escort, pathfinder, bomber, anti-shipping strike aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and even to carry the highball variant of the bouncing bomb. The fighter bomber version carried four rifle calibre machine guns and four 20mm canon in the nose with either 60lb rockets under the wings or bombs up to and including the 4,000lb bomb in an internal bomb bay. Only the superlative four engine Lancaster carried heavier bombs, eventually carrying the 22,000lb ‘earthquake’ bomb. Even with a full bomb or rocket load the Mosquito could be thrown around like a single seat fighter and out run interceptors sent against it. It was not until the arrival of the Me 262 jet in the final stage of the war that the Mosquito could be caught in a straight race. The method of construction was not ideal for use from carriers or over the sea at low level because the laminated wood was prone to delaminate in those conditions, but it still became a formidable anti-shipping weapon and was given folding wings to allow it to be carried aboard even the smaller RN carriers. The need to attack U-Boats setting out on patrol or returning to port was to lead to the development of the Molins Gun for fitment to a Mosquito. This 57mm canon was able to penetrate the hardened hull of a submarine running on the surface and the magazine and loading system was developed from a cigarette machine. Only a small number of Mosquito aircraft were adapted and performed adequately in trials and in combat, but it was found that the 60lb unguided rocket was more effective and this was carried by the Mosquito on racks under each wing capable of carrying a total of eight rockets. The same rockets were equally effective against bunkers, rocket launching sites, armoured vehicles, and both surface vessels and U-Boats. The Mosquito also served as a pinpoint bomber and as such was a very suitable pathfinder, marking targets for hundreds of heavy bombers and as a bomber against special value targets. On one special raid a Mosquito tossed its bomb through the front door of a Gestapo building, sliding down some stairs and into the air raid shelter. The author has collected together first hand accounts and many of the most exciting operational reports. An aviation enthusiast who fails to add this title to his or her library does not deserve to be described as an aviation enthusiast.