Strategic bombing — Fortresses and Mosquitos

Photo by Charles E. Brown

The De Havilland Mosquito was a fast bomber that De Havilland developed on his own with his funds early in World War II, because the Royal Air Force was not interested. It was made of wood, because aluminum was not available, and powered by two large Merlin engines. Once it flew the RAF was interested, and production began. Their first combat was bombing Berlin to interrupt the celebration of the tenth anniversary of Hitler's Reich.

Once it dropped its bombs it was a fighter on a par with the Me 109. It carried almost as large a bomb load as a Flying Fortress, with almost as much range, but was so fast it required no fighter escort. It had a crew of two while ten were on the Fortress.

Later in World War II when the Nazis had to do their bombing under cover of night, the heavy radar of the day was put in Mossies so they became effective night fighters to defend England. Because it is made of wood very few Mosquitos remain.

The Mosquito had the lowest loss-ratio of all allied aircraft in World War II.

As the war ended the U. S. started a scientific survey of strategic bombing and its effectiveness. As London and Coventry had already shown, bombing of civilians often increased resolve. Links to the resulting studies of the European and Pacific theaters are on this site.

Copyright © 2004 John F. Yeaman