Monday, March 19, 2012

de Havilland Mosquito

de Havilland
C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

Picture:  450 x 339 at 183 dpi  -  Pilot Friend

Crew:                    2     pilot
                                     navigator / bombardier

Power:                  2 x Rolls Royce 1230 hp Merlin 21 12 cylinder 
                               liquid cooled in-line piston engine

Performance -
Max. Speed:        612 kph / 380 mph
Ceiling:                 9455 m / 31,000 ft
Range:                 1963 km / 1220 miles
Climb:                   878 m / 2880 ft per minute

Weight -
Empty:                  5947 kg / 13,100 lb
Max. Take Off:     10,160 kg / 22,380 lb

Size -
Wingspan:           16.51 m / 54 ft 2 in
Wing Area:           42.18 sq m / 454 sq ft
Length:                  12.47 m / 40 ft 10 in
Height:                  4.66 m / 15 ft 3 in

                              908 kg / 2000 lb bombs

Chief Designer:   Ronald E. Bishop

Picture:  738 x 925  - The Blueprints

Despite Munich Britain was preparing itself for war with Germany during 1938.  The Air Ministry wanted large, modern, metal alloy bombers with plenty of armament to protect them on their dangerous missions over Germany.  Geoffrey de Havilland was offering them a small, fast bomber that had no protective guns.  Its defense would be the ability to outrun attacking fighters. It would be very fast because it would be made of laminated wood glued together.  Furniture makers could help construct it.  Frankly, it sounds crazy.  

Picture:  704 x 511 at 200 dpi  -  Bomber Command Museum

Let's say you've looked over the drawing board designs, you've talked with de Havilland and he seems to know what he's talking about.  Are you going to risk your career going to bat for this scheme?  Think about it.  What has he done?  He's made a couple of racing planes.  He made a good looking commercial airliner that failed where it counted.  Now he wants to build for you an unarmed bomber made of wood and glue.  Things can look good on paper that don't pan out in real life.  This idea is dead on arrival.

Picture:  488 x 650 at 300 dpi  -  Military History

Geoffrey de Havilland has a political connection who believes in this plane.  Patrick Hennessy just happens to run British aircraft production.  Build the plane.  Let's see what it can do.  The Mosquito first flew 25 November, 1940.  It more than met expectations.   It would be the world's fastest combat aircraft until 1944 and it had extraordinary agility.  Lose the gun turrets and you save more than fifteen percent in weight.  You also go from a six man bomber to just two people manning the plane.  It was an audacious design.

Picture:  486 x 635 -  Tech Support Guy

The Mosquito was put to a lot of good uses - photo-reconnaissance, pathfinder for large bombing raids, bomber, fighter-bomber for ground support, anti-shipping missions.  Speed and agility can accomplish quite a bit.  It also makes it more likely you return from your mission.  Even the best planes have an Achilles heel, though.  Moist, warm tropical air in the Pacific had an unfortunate surprise for those flying the high performance Mosquito.  Wood puffs up, glue loosens and the plane sometimes just came apart in flight.  Your favorite chair just went out from under you and its a long way down.  

Picture:  2400 x 1800 at 700 dpi  -  Wikipedia

The Mosquito is credited with truly pinpoint, one of a kind missions that required treetop flying and delivering bombs that nearly sailed through windows.  More than one Gestapo headquarters was attacked in just this manner.  A prison break of French resistance fighters was successfully carried out at Amiens in February 1944, resulting from an attack of Mosquitos.  Who would have thought people used to making dining tables and heirloom chairs would be instrumental in putting together fuselages and wings for a plane taking on such demanding missions?  

Picture:  1150 x 988  -  Malcolm Clarke  

The people at de Havilland kept producing these planes until 1950.  Nearly 8,000 would be built with different configurations for different needs.  Over 2,500 would be the FB Mk VI, a fighter bomber and the most widely used Mosquito.  They not only exhibited awesome flight characteristics but they also filled a real need.  Yet, the military never wrote the specifications for it.  Thinking outside the box sounds great but it's too risky for most people.  You can think outside the box and wind up without a job.  No thanks.  I'll just leave crazy stunts like that to people like Geoffrey de Havilland.  

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