The awesome De Havilland Mosquito night fighter variant. Operating from mid 1942 with 100 Group RAF, it soon gained a fearsome reputation with Luftwaffe bomber crews as a deadly hunter killer. Equipped with the AI Mk IV, or AI Mk VIII radar, and armed with 4 Browning .303 machine guns in the nose, and 4 x 20mm mk2 Hispano cannons under the cockpit floor, only the redoubtable, and equally deadly Bristol Beaufighter equalled it for firepower! Intended to replace the ‘Beau,’ in all theatres of war, it was discovered that the climate in the far east caused fatal airframe failures to the Mosquito…the tropical climate, and the humidity caused the purpose made bonding of the plywood fuselage of the ‘Mossie,’ to delaminate, an issue that didn’t effect the aluminium Beaufighter. The Japanese quickly dubbed the Beaufighter ‘Whispering Death,’ as it’s Bristol Pegasus engines couldn’t be heard until she was on top of you! An incredible ground attack aircraft, especially when fitted with 8 rocket rails beneath it’s wings, Coastal Command soon found that the Beaufighter was an equally lethal submarine killer…which left the lions share of Mosquito production to Bomber Command! Ironically, Dambuster legend Guy Gibson flew a Mosquito only once, on his 175th sortie, acting as Master Bomber for a Lancaster raid on Munchen Gladbach on the night of 19th September, 1944. He went down in flames over Steenbergen, Holland, on the way home, under circumstances that are still being argued about to this day! The pictures are largely self explanatory, the night shot of a burst of fire was the armourers testing the cannon at the ‘butts,’ following a repair of an electrical fault that prevented them from firing.
Night image; © Imperial War Museum