De Havilland Mosquito

The de Havilland Mosquito was a British combat aircraft that excelled in a number of roles during the Second World War. Originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber, uses of the Mosquito included: low to medium altitude daytime tactical bomber, high altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike and photo reconnaissance aircraft. It served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and many other air forces both in the Second World War and postwar. The Mosquito aircraft was primarily made of laminated plywood. 

De Havilland had little experience of working with the Air Ministry and when a contract was specified for new bombers, the all-wood design approach was considered to be out of keeping with official policy. In October 1938 the Ministry rejected their proposal, sceptical about the idea of a wooden plane and the concept of the unarmed bomber. The support of Sir Wilfrid Freeman eventually proved decisive and a contract for fifty aircraft, including one prototype, was finally placed on 1 March 1940. 

The Mosquito is often described as having been faster than enemy fighters, although this is not completely true. Nonetheless the speed advantage of enemy fighters was slim enough that by the time those aircraft could reach interception altitude, the Mosquito would have completed its bombing run and would be racing for home. 

The first bomber squadrons to receive the Mosquito B IV used it for several low-level daylight raids. One of the first was the Oslo raid on 25 September 1942, carried out by four aircraft of 105 Squadron, after which the Mosquito was publicly revealed for the first time. The Mosquito continued to successfully serve in a variety of roles throughout World War II. 

Mosquitos flying with the Israeli Air Force saw action during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Although, at the time, the Mosquito was being taken out of service, 13 aircraft of various marks were taken out of storage. An additional 13 TR 33 Mosquitos were purchased from a British scrap dealer in 1954.

De Havilland Mosquito
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1940
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia View
Canada View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1941 View
United States of America View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited 7781 View

Role Light bomber
Night fighter
Maritime strike aircraft
photo-reconnaissance aircraft
First flight 25 November 1940
Introduction 1941
Status Retired
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Produced 1940–1950
Number built 7,781

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2: pilot, navigator/radar operator
  • Length: 41 ft 2 in (13.57 m)
  • Wingspan: 54 ft 2 in (16.52 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 5 in (5.3 m)
  • Wing area: 454 ft (42.18 m)
  • Empty weight: 13,356 lb (6,058 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 17,700 lb (8,028 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 18,649 lb (8,549 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Rolls-Royce Merlin 21/21 or 23/23 (left/right) liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,480 hp (21 & 23) (1,103 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 318 knots (366 mph, 668 km/h) at 21,400 ft (8,500 m)
  • Range: 782 nm (900 mi, 1,448 km) 410 gallon fuel load at 20,000 ft
  • Service ceiling 29,000 ft (8,839 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,740 ft/min (8.8 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 39.9 lb/ft (195 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.189 hp/lb (311 W/kg)


  • 4 x 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon (fuselage)
  • 4 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns (nose)


  • AI Mk IV or Mk VRadar (NF variants)

End notes