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WW2 Mosquito

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The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft with a two-man crew that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. The Mosquito was one of the few operational front-line aircraft of the World War II era to be constructed almost entirely of wood and, as such, was nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder". The Mosquito was also known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews.[4] Originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber, the Mosquito was adapted to many other roles during the air war, including low- to medium-altitude daytime tactical bomber, high-altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike aircraft, and fast photo-reconnaissance aircraft. It was also used by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) as a transport.

When the Mosquito entered production in 1941, it was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world.[6] Entering widespread service in 1942, the Mosquito first operated as a high-speed, high-altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft, and continued to operate in this role throughout the war. From mid-1942 to mid-1943 Mosquito bombers were used in high-speed, medium- or low-altitude missions, attacking factories, railways and other pinpoint targets within Germany and German-occupied Europe. From late 1943, Mosquito bomber units were formed into the Light Night Strike Force and used as pathfinders for RAF Bomber Command's heavy-bomber raids. They were also used as "nuisance" bombers, often dropping 4,000 lb (1,812 kg) "cookies", in high-altitude, high-speed raids that German night fighters were almost powerless to intercept.

As a night fighter, from mid-1942, the Mosquito was used to intercept Luftwaffe raids on the United Kingdom, most notably defeating the German aerial offensive, Operation Steinbock, in 1944. Offensively, starting in July 1942, some Mosquito night-fighter units conducted intruder raids over Luftwaffe airfields and, as part of 100 Group, the Mosquito was used as a night fighter and intruder in support of RAF Bomber Command's heavy bombers, and played an important role in reducing bomber losses during 1944 and 1945. As a fighter-bomber in the Second Tactical Air Force, the Mosquito took part in "special raids", such as the attack on Amiens Prison in early 1944, and in other precision attacks against Gestapo or German intelligence and security forces. Second Tactical Air Force Mosquitos also played an important role operating in tactical support of the British Army during the 1944 Normandy Campaign. From 1943 Mosquitos were used by RAF Coastal Command strike squadrons, attacking Kriegsmarine U-boats (particularly in the 1943 Bay of Biscay offensive, where significant numbers of U-boats were sunk or damaged) and intercepting transport ship concentrations.

The Mosquito saw service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and many other air forces in the European theatre, and the Mediterranean and Italian theatres. The Mosquito was also used by the RAF in the South East Asian theatre, and by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) based in the Halmaheras and Borneo during the Pacific War.

Once the design of the DH.98 had started, de Havilland built several mock-ups, the most detailed of which was at Salisbury Hall, in the hangar where E0234 was being built. Initially, this mock-up was designed with the crew completely enclosed in the fuselage behind a completely transparent nose (similar to that of the Bristol Blenheim or Heinkel He 111H), but this was quickly altered to a more solid nose with a more conventional canopy.

The construction of the prototype began in March 1940, but work was cancelled again after the Battle of Dunkirk, when Lord Beaverbrook, as Minister of Aircraft Production decided there was no production capacity for aircraft like the DH.98, which was not expected to be in service until early 1941. Although Lord Beaverbrook told Air Vice-Marshal Freeman that work on the project had better stop, he did not issue a specific instruction, and Freeman ignored the request. In June 1940, however, Lord Beaverbrook and the Air Staff ordered that production was to focus on five existing types, namely the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, Vickers Wellington, Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley and the Bristol Blenheim. Work on the DH.98 prototype stopped, and it seemed that the project would be shut down when the design team were denied the materials with which to build their prototype.

The Mosquito was only reinstated as a priority in July 1940, after de Havilland's General Manager L.C.L Murray, promised Lord Beaverbrook 50 Mosquitoes by December 1941, and this, only after Beaverbrook was satisfied that Mosquito production would not hinder de Havilland's primary work of producing Tiger Moth and Oxford trainers and repairing Hurricanes as well as the licence manufacture of Merlin engines. In promising Beaverbrook 50 Mosquitoes by the end of 1941, de Havilland was taking a gamble, because it was unlikely that 50 Mosquitos could be built in such a limited time; as it transpired only 20 Mosquitos were built in 1941, but the other 30 were delivered by mid-March 1942.

During the Battle of Britain, nearly a third of de Havilland's factory time was lost because the workers took cover in the factory's bomb shelters.[31] Nevertheless, work on the prototype went quickly, such that E0234 was rolled out on 19 November 1940.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Britain, the original order was changed to 20 bomber variants and 30 fighters. It was still uncertain whether the fighter version should have dual or single controls, or should carry a turret, so three prototypes were eventually built: W4052, W4053 and W4073. The latter, both turret armed, were later disarmed, to become the prototypes for the T.III trainer. This caused some delays as half-built wing components had to be strengthened for the expected higher combat load requirements. The nose sections also had to be altered, omitting the clear perspex bomb-aimer's position, to solid noses designed to house four .303 machine guns and their ammunition.

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