Mosquito being armed with 4,000lb bomb

Mosquito being armed with 4,000lb bomb

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Mosquito Bomber/ Fighter-Bomber Units of World War 2, Martin Bowman. The first of three books looking at the RAF career of this most versatile of British aircraft of the Second World War, this volume looks at the squadrons that used the Mosquito as a daylight bomber, over occupied Europe and Germany, against shipping and over Burma. [see more]


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Mosquito, in full De Havilland DH-98 Mosquito, British twin-engine, two-seat, mid-wing bomber aircraft that was adapted to become the prime night fighter of the Allies during World War II. The Mosquito had a frame of wood and a skin of plywood, and it was glued and screwed together in England, Canada, and Australia. The plane was designed in 1938 and entered service in 1941.

As a night fighter, the Mosquito downed more than 600 Luftwaffe planes over Germany and as many V-1 missiles (buzz bombs) over England and the English Channel. As a bomber, it proved able to carry twice the bomb load for which it was designed. The Mosquito had a maximum speed in excess of 400 miles per hour (640 km/h) and a range of more than 1,500 miles (2,415 km) with a 4,000-pound (1,816-kilogram) bomb load. Its original armament included four .303-calibre machine guns and four 20-millimetre cannons, all firing through the nose. The airplane was produced in so many modifications for so many missions, however, that armament varied widely through the war and later, when it was used in the air forces of countries around the world. Including production in the three continents where it was made, there were 42 “marks,” or versions, of the 7,780 Mosquitos that were built. It served as a bomber, fighter, night fighter, high-altitude fighter, and photo-reconnaissance plane, and it was even used to fly a wartime airline connection over enemy territory between Britain and Sweden.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

Was there an American Mosquito type aircraft?

Oct 30, 2007 #1 2007-10-30T19:55

Oct 30, 2007 #2 2007-10-30T20:29

Oct 30, 2007 #3 2007-10-30T23:28

. which was, of course, a British design.

There was the B-42/B-43, however.

Oct 30, 2007 #4 2007-10-30T23:58

I can see why the Douglas B-42 was called the Mixmaster. Allow me to clarify, I meant a Mosquito-type aircraft active during WW2. The B-42, which had its maiden flight during WW2 was designed as a fast bomber, but with its 8,000 lb. bombload it would reach the mid to low 400 mph point, which could still be intercepted by the Ta-152, Me-262 and other high speed interceptors.

IMO, Mosquitos would have been ideal for the Doolittle Raid in April 1942. The stated requirements for the raid were for a cruising range of 2,400 miles (3,900 km) with a 2,000 pound (900 kg) bomb load. If the Mosquito halved her 4,000 lb. bombload in place of extra fuel, perhaps the Mossie would do the trick nicely, and you'd fit more on deck. Of course, the Mosquito did not reach operational use until the end of 1942.

Oct 31, 2007 #5 2007-10-31T23:45

Nov 01, 2007 #6 2007-11-01T14:06

Neither aircraft made it into WWII but they could have if the programs had been properly resourced. There is no real reason The ME-109Z could not have been constructed in the late 1930s using two ME-109Ds for the original prototype.

The ME-109Z especially would have been a huge improvement over the ME-110 as a long range bomber escort. For that matter, so would the FW-187 if the German Air Ministry had not jerked Focke Wulf around concerning the aircraft specifications. Sort of like the way the U.S. Army Air Corps wrecked any chance the P-39 had for becoming a decent aircraft by imposing poorly thought out requirements on the design.

Extract, to save you having to find the relevant paragraph.
Bf 109Z "Zwilling"

This experimental aircraft was essentially two Bf 109F airframes (together with outer wing panels) joined together by means of a new wing, and new tail section, in a manner that was paralleled by the USA's F-82 Twin Mustang. Two variants of this aircraft were proposed, one being an interceptor armed with five 30 mm cannons, and the other a fighter-bomber with a 1,000 kg bomb load. Only one Bf 109Z was ever built, and it was never flown, having been destroyed in an Allied bombing raid while in hangar

De Havilland Mosquito versions

Prototype E0234 / W4050 at Hatfield, after its journey from Salisbury Hall prior to its maiden flight. The aircraft was painted bright yellow, as were most prototypes at this stage of the war to avoid anti-aircraft fire from gunners who didnt recognize the aircraft, but the film stock (orthochromatic) reproduces colours in different shades of grey than the human eye expects to see, so the aircraft appears to be a dark colour. W4050 is currently undergoing complete restoration.

As conceived - faster than a Spitfire!
Faster than anything else flying at the time!


The B.IV had a glass nose for a bombardier and although designed to carry four 112 kilogram (250 pound) bombs, this was ingeniously increased to four 225 kilogram (500 pound) bombs before Series I aircraft reached operational units in 1941. The first B.IV Series II was delivered in May 1942, and the first strikes were performed at the end of the month.

Although initially being used for bombing attacks, Bomber Command decided that the best use of the Mosquito bomber was as a "pathfinder" marking enemy targets with coloured flares that following waves of bomberss would use as an aiming point. B.IVs were fitted with the latest top secret electronic navigation aids for night and overcast conditions, including "Oboe" and "H2S".

Bomber Command then began to employ the growing number of Mosquitos for nuisance attacks and from 1943, many B.IV Mosquitos carried a single 4,000 lb High Capacity "Cookie" bomb in their modified internal bomb bay, and could deliver it to a precise location in Berlin at a comparitive fraction of the running-cost and operational-losses of the contemporary Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress or the superb Avro Lancaster.

60 B.IVs were also modified to carry the "Highball" antiship bomb, a design based on Barnes Wallis's famous 'Dam Buster' skipping bomb.


wingspan: 16.51 meters
wing area: 33.54 sq. meters
length: 12.43 meters
height: 4.65 meters
empty weight: 5,942 kg
max loaded weight: 10,150 kg
maximum speed: 612 KPH (380 MPH)
service ceiling: 9,450 meters
range: 1,965 kilometers

Two Rolls Royce Merlin XX = lots of horse power!


181 PR.34s were built (50 by Percival in England) and although intended for service in the Far East, they were mostly deployed the Pacific in August 1945. These late models had phenomenal performances.

wingspan: 16.51 meters
wing area: 33.54 sq. meters
length: 12.65 meters
height: 4.65 meters
empty weight: 7,545 kilograms
max loaded weight: 11,565 kilograms (25,500 pounds) maximum
speed: 685 KPH (425 MPH / 370 KT)
service ceiling: 13,100 meters (43,000 feet)
range: 5,375 kilometers



* W4050 - W4050 is currently undergoing complete restoration at the De Havilland Heritage Centre & the Mosquito Aircraft Museum, Salisbury Hall UK.

More Mosquito stuff


This website is a work in progress. I try to update it once a month.
If you have any information, images or you flew Mosquitos, please contact the editor
email: webmaster @ (remove spaces)

Website dedicated to
Stanley Passby
02 Aug 1916 - 20 Dec 2005
(Airspeed and Dehavillands engineer)

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito vs North American B-25 Mitchell

OPTIONAL (Model Dependent):
Between 500lb and 4,000lb of internal stores in bomb bay (reconnaissance equipment, specialized mission equipment, leaflets, munitions, extra fuel, etc. ).
1 x 57mm autocannon in nose (in place of 4 x cannons).
4 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in underfuselage gunpack.
2 x 250lb / 500lb bombs underwing
8 x High-Explosive, Armor-Piercing rockets underwing.
1 x Torpedo externally held under the fuselage

Model-specific armament included:

8 x 12.7mm M2 Browning Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) OR 1 x 75mm Automatic cannon in fixed, forward-firing mounting(s) in nose assembly.

2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in fixed, forward-firing gun pack at lower fuselage left.
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in fixed, forward-firing gun pack at lower fuselage- right.
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in dorsal turret (power-assisted in some models).
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in ventral turret (power-assisted in some models).
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in left beam position.
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in right beam position.
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in tail gun position (deleted in some models).

1 x Torpedo carried under fuselage (model-specific).
8 x 250lb Conventional drop bombs carried on 8 x External hardpoints (model-specific).

From Quora - Is this claim about Mosquito true?

Was construction of parts for the De Havilland Mosquito the most
outsourced of any WW2 aircraft?
Hermann Göring said, “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito… The
British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a
beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is
building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet
again.” It was faster than any of his fighters.[1]

In addition to over 5500 being made in British piano and furniture
factories, over 1100 Mosquitos were produced in Canadian workshops,
which also had a lot of skilled woodworkers. Australia produced over 200

The Mosquito could deliver the same bomb-load to distant targets as the
heavily armoured, four-engine B-17 flown by the American Air Force.
Since German fighters could not catch it, the Mosquito ended the war
with the lowest loss rate of any aircraft in RAF Bomber Command service.

It also shot down a lot of German fighters since it could sneak up
behind them while they were sneaking up on British heavy bombers and
open fire with its four 20 mm cannons in its belly and four .303 machine
guns in its nose. It carried a radar receiver which could detect German
night fighter radars for that purpose. Night-fighter Mosquitos downed
over 600 enemy aircraft during the war.

Mosquito fighter/bombers being produced in Canadian factory[2]

[1] de Havilland Mosquito - Wikipedia
[2] De Havilland Mosquito
16.4K views166 upvotes1 share11 comments


Later, one can read this in comments:

James Page
2h ago
Just to clarify, the only way the Mosquito could deliver the same
payload as the B17 was when it was designed to carry the 4000 pound
“cookie”. It could never carry the number of bombs the B17 could.

Jacob Klaren
1h ago
Well it almost could. It can carry 1800kg of bombs. The B17 could carry
around 2000kg of bombs on long distance missions. For short distance
missions it can carry 3600kg of bombs but this would reduce the range to
little over 600km.

Jim Wilkins

"a425couple" wrote in message news:rqj0r.

The Eighth wanted to engage and destroy German fighters, not dodge them.
Offense wins wars, defense only prolongs them. The British promoted what
they could do and dismissed what they couldn't -- escort the bombers.

"The fighters were no longer constrained to holding close formation with
bombers. Instead, they would fly ahead, look for German fighters, and attack
them where they found them."

"Bomber crews were dismayed at first, but the results were dramatic. Within
a few months, the Allies had seized air superiority from the Germans and
held it for the rest of the war. The average monthly loss rate for Eighth
Air Force heavy bombers fell from 5.1 percent in 1943 to 1.9 percent in

"Spaatz deliberately used the bombers as bait. By attacking the German oil
supplies, they would lure the Luftwaffe up into direct combat, where US
fighters waited for them. German airpower would be destroyed by attrition."

"The Luftwaffe in western Europe wrote off 34 percent of its fighter
strength in January, another 56 percent in February."

"“It is generally conceded that the air war against Germany was won during
the phase of our operations between the beginning of February 1944 and
D-Day,” Doolittle said years later."

Good as it was, the Mosquito was not a day fighter like the P-38.

Geoffrey Sinclair

> Is this claim about Mosquito true?

The archives of the group show it continuing to crop up and be

Since Quora seems to be a registered users site and I do not feel like
registering feel free to copy this post as a reply to the queries.

> "The Mosquito could deliver the same bomb-load to distant targets
> as the heavily armoured, four-engine B-17 flown by the American
> Air Force."

> Taken from:
> David Moe
> 19h ago
> Lives in Canadian Rockies (2006–present)
> Was construction of parts for the De Havilland Mosquito the most
> outsourced of any WW2 aircraft?

The answer to that is what is the definition of outsourced? Start with
the electronics, the oxygen systems, the engines and so on, representing
quite a lot of the value. For example in late 1944 the P-61 airframe was
estimated to cost about $150,000, a fly away P-61 was $250,000, while
the B-25 was $90,000 out of $155,000 and the B-26 $110,000 out of
$200,000. The aircraft companies concentrated on airframes.

Very few aircraft factories actually made lots of parts, they tended to
assemble them from suppliers. How many parts the aircraft company
made is another matter and would vary, small production runs would
have a bias to in house parts. Remember pre war De Havilland were
doing a lot of wooden aircraft, it would have the relevant workshops,
similar for companies doing metal work. With the arrival of mass
production the aircraft companies were stretched financially and
management wise to assemble the large numbers required before
you talk about setting up a major increase in workshop capabilities,
including mass production tooling.

The book Mosquito by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J.F. Bowyer note
over 400 sub contractors were involved in Mosquito production in Britain,
there is a 5 page list of some of them in Appendix 19.

Supplying the Ford B-24 production line at Willow Run were 965
subcontractors located in 287 cities in 38 states.

Simply put the Mosquito may have had more sub contractors or not or
at different times.

For the US aviation industry as a whole airframe employment expanded by
15.9 times, engine 21.25 times, propeller 22.8 times, subcontractors 51.6
times, GFE (Government Furnished Equipment) 17.2 times from January
1940 to their peaks. Note the rise in subcontractors.

> Hermann Göring said, “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito… The
> British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a
> beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building,
> and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again.” It was
> faster than any of his fighters.[1]

> In addition to over 5500 being made in British piano and furniture
> factories, over 1100 Mosquitos were produced in Canadian workshops, which
> also had a lot of skilled woodworkers. Australia produced over 200
> Mosquitos.

For the record, Britain produced 6,424 Mosquito, Canada 1,133
and Australia 212.

Eight TR.37 Sea Mosquito, RAF serials VT730 to VT737, are often
reported as being built but there is no record of them in the official
production reports, nor of them being delivered, they are not counted

For the detailed record, production by country by mark, B = Bomber,
FB = Fighter Bomber, NF = Night fighter, PR = Photographic reconnaissance,
T = Trainer, TR = Torpedo Reconnaissance (Naval). Mark numbers in
Roman Numerals to XX/20.

Australia, 178 FB.40, 23 PR.41, 11 T.43

Britain, the II, XII, XIII, XVII and XIX were night fighters, the VI a
bomber, the XV a high altitude fighter, the XVIII the Tsetse fighter
bomber with 6 pounder gun.

Prototypes: one each of the mark I (Reconnaissance), II (Fighter) and
V (Bomber) and 2 TR.33.

10 PR.I, 394 II, 361 T.III, B.IV 273, IV PR 27, 2,288 VI, 5 PR.VIII,
54 B.IX, 90 PR.IX, 97 XII, 270 XIII, 5 XV, 400 B.XVI, 435 PR.XVI,
100 XVII, 18 XVIII, 280 XIX, 530 NF.30, 4 PR.32, 50 TR.33,
181 PR.34, 276 B.35, 163 NF.36, 6 TR.37, 101 NF.38

Canada (mark VII and XX were bombers) 25 VII, 245 XX,
3 FB.21, 4 T.22, 400 B.25, 435 FB.26, 21 T.27

How did the piano and furniture factories get completed airframes
out of their workshops? Or were they doing ultra grand pianos and
one piece room length wardrobes pre war and so had the lifting
gear and wide enough doors?

Mosquitoes were assembled in aircraft assembly factories, using
parts from suppliers. Some of those suppliers did furniture and
piano work pre war but note with the rise of gliders and plenty of
wooden training aircraft there was plenty of aviation work for the
entire wood industry.

> The Mosquito could deliver the same bomb-load to distant targets as the
> heavily armoured, four-engine B-17 flown by the American Air Force.

The Mosquito could lift, as an absolute maximum, 5,000 pounds of
bombs, 4,000 pounds carried internally, in versions that began arriving
in 1943, the B-17 as an absolute maximum either 17,600 or 20,600
pounds, with 12,600 pounds carried internally, in versions that began
arriving in 1941.

Now comes the difference between real world and theoretical.

The first 4,000 pound bomb dropped by a Mosquito was on 23
February 1944

To bomb Berlin from Britain with 5,000 pounds of bombs a Mosquito
would need to be on economic cruise at around 10,000 feet, B-25/26
sort of flight plan, and even then would have a very small fuel reserve.
Or they could carry 4,000 pounds of bombs internally, put fuel tanks on
the wing stations and come in at 30,000 feet plus at 300 mph plus.

The usual conditions apply to the bomb tonnages mentioned below,
they are good put not perfect.

Figures for Mosquito raids where the target is given as Berlin by
month, fields are month, number of effective sorties, number lost,
bomb tonnage in short tons, average bomb load, that is bomb
tonnage divided by effective sorties. Richard Davis figures.

Mar-44 / 52 / 0 / 49 / 1895.38
Apr-44 / 54 / 0 / 65 / 2410.07
May-44 / 108 / 0 / 153 / 2824.89
Jun-44 / 212 / 5 / 376 / 3545.96
Jul-44 / 250 / 4 / 415 / 3316.10
Aug-44 / 240 / 1 / 371 / 3088.40
Sep-44 / 194 / 4 / 294 / 3026.31
Oct-44 / 300 / 4 / 400 / 2668.59
Nov-44 / 251 / 1 / 370 / 2948.59
Dec-44 / 165 / 1 / 227 / 2755.88
Jan-45 / 367 / 1 / 490 / 2672.13
Feb-45 / 815 / 3 / 1,070 / 2625.33
Mar-45 / 1,618 / 7 / 2,077 / 2567.83
Apr-45 / 995 / 4 / 1,426 / 2866.97

Totals / 5,621 / 35 / 7,783 / 2769.26

So the Mosquitoes were carrying 4,000 pound bombs to Berlin,
but that was clearly a minority of the sorties. If you assume the
loads were either 2,000 or 4,000 pounds then around 40% of
the sorties carried the heavier load. The above figures are
from 125 nights of raids, minimum average bomb load for a
given night was 1,629 pounds (on 15 nights the average was
below 2,000 pounds, 10 of these nights were in 1945), maximum
nightly average bomb load was 3,689 pounds with 11 nights
having an average of 3,400 pounds or greater and all bar 1 of
these in June and July 1944, the other the following September.

One explanation for the less than 2,000 pounds average bomb
load is siren tours, one or two bombs per city times several cities.

Also, given the usual size of the Mosquito raids, particularly in 1944,
an error of 1 aircraft credited with attacking per night would often be
able to shift the average 5 to 10%. The average number of Mosquito
sorties per raid on Berlin in the March 1944 to April 1945 period is 45.

Since the B-17 was sold as a continental defence aircraft, bombing
approaching shipping, it was optimised to carry the 1,600 pound
Armour Piercing bomb, 8 of them for 12,800 pounds internal, it meant
the bomb bay topped out at 6,000 pounds of High Explosive bombs,
external racks could add to the bomb load but at a reported significant
performance cost. The lower HE bomb load weight meant the B-17 fuel
tanks could be full.

It is fun trying to find B-17G range with bomb load figures, the RAAF
official history says 2,350 miles with 4,000 pounds, 2,250 miles with
6,000 pounds.

The B-17 missions in Europe required rapid climbs and tight formations,
as a result the early F models had a effective radius of around 300 miles,
way below what was done in the Pacific, the extra wing tanks from the
late F models onward were therefore required for attacks on distant targets.

The 8th Air Force flew 274,921 effective heavy bomber (B-17 and B-24)
sorties in WWII, dropping 714,719 short tons of bombs, average load
5,199.5 pounds.

The US heavy bombers in the Mediterranean flew 147,111 effective
sorties January 1943 to the end of the war dropping 378,824 short
tons of bombs, average load 5,150 pounds.

Average bomb loads US aircraft attacking Berlin, basically
the tonnage of bombs credited as dropping on the target
divided by the aircraft credited with bombing the target,
Richard Davis figures. Note that many to most of these raids
had bombers attacking targets other than "Berlin", the usual
targets of opportunity or different aiming points, which
explains some of the differences between despatched and
attacking figures.

Berlin on 9 March 1944, 361 B-17s despatched, 332 credited
with attacking, average bomb load 4,630 pounds.

Berlin on 22 March 1994, 474 B-17s and 214 B-24s despatched
621 bombers credited with attacking Berlin, average bomb load
4,425 pounds (around 80 bombers attacked other targets, including
32 the Berlin/Basdorf industrial area)

Berlin on 29 April 1944, 446 B-17s and 233 B-24s despatched,
581 bombers credited with attacking Berlin, average bomb load
4,900 pounds.

Berlin on 7 May 1944, 600 B-17s despatched, 525 credited
with attacking Berlin, average bomb load 4,810 pounds. The
B-24s sent to Osnabruck average bomb load 5,435 pounds.

Berlin on 8 May 1944, 500 B-17s despatched, 384 credited
with attacking Berlin, average bomb load 4,765 pounds. The
B-24s sent to Brunswick average bomb load 4,790 pounds.

Berlin on 19 May 1944, 588 B-17s despatched, 493 credited
with attacking Berlin, average bomb load 4,325 pounds. The
B-24s sent to Brunswick average bomb load 5,710 pounds,
or around 1,000 pounds more than 11 days earlier.

Berlin on 24 May 1944, 616 B-17s despatched, 459 credited
with attacking Berlin, average bomb load 4,500 pounds.

Berlin on 21 June 1944, 866 B-17s and 366 B-24s despatched,
to many targets, 560 bombers credited with attacking Berlin,
average bomb load 4,900 pounds.

Berlin on 3 February 1945, 1,093 B-17s despatched, 934 credited
with attacking Berlin, average bomb load 4,890 pounds (interestingly
the 215 bombers who used H2X to sight their bombs had an average
load of around 70 pounds more, which is a warning to treat the figures
as a guide, not absolute).

Berlin on 26 February 1945, 840 B-17s and 367 B-24s despatched,
to many targets around Berlin, 1,089 bombers credited with attacking
3 targets in Berlin, average bomb load 5,100 pounds. Interestingly
the Alexander Platz rail station strike, all B-17, had the highest average
of 5,810 pounds, the North rail station strike, all B-24, the lowest at
4,480 pounds. Strike assignments from Freeman, Mighty 8th War Diary.
If this is correct presumably this was done to allow the B-24s to fly that
little bit higher. This hints at the possibility that, on average, the B-24
carried fewer bombs to Berlin than the B-17 in 1945 anyway.

Berlin on 18 March 1945, 982 B-17s and 347 B-24s despatched,
1,219 bombers credited with attacking. The raid list has 7 entries,
for the targets attacked, by between 25 and 498 bombers,
bomb load averages from 3,860 to 5,170 pounds, overall average
bomb load 5,052 pounds.

Berlin on 28 March 1945, 446 B-17s despatched, 403 credited
with attacking, average bomb load 5,155 pounds. By March 1945
many groups were flying with 9 crew, leaving one gunner behind
and there was widespread removal of some gun turrets as well.
The advantages of air superiority.

In summary when flying for maximum range with bomb load the
B-17 was well ahead of the Mosquito. With the limitations of
the B-17 bomb bay and the operational conditions the air
forces were under in Europe the gap narrowed considerably
in 1944 but the B-17 was still ahead.

> Since German fighters could not catch it, the Mosquito ended the war with
> the lowest loss rate of any aircraft in RAF Bomber Command service.

There are plenty of post war research confirmed kills of Mosquitoes by
German day and night fighters.

If you use Bomber Command War Diaries the lowest loss rate for "any
aircraft" was in fact the Radio Counter Measures B-24 at 0.45% of
sorties, Mosquito second at 0.78%. Of course the RCM aircraft were
never exposed to the same risks as the bombers but the claim as
written is false.

> It also shot down a lot of German fighters since it could sneak up behind
> them while they were sneaking up on British heavy bombers and open fire
> with its four 20 mm cannons in its belly and four .303 machine guns in its
> nose. It carried a radar receiver which could detect German night fighter
> radars for that purpose. Night-fighter Mosquitos downed over 600 enemy
> aircraft during the war.

The Mosquito bombers did not carry guns, the Mosquito night fighters
deleted the machine guns when centimetric radar sets were fitted, the
mark VI fighter bombers continued to carry the 4 machine gun 4 cannon
armament but did not carry radar until late in the war when the ASH sets,
which were actually Air Surface search sets, were fitted to some and in
any case the mark VI were largely confined to the 2nd Tactical Air Force,
not Bomber Command.

Sort of like the B-17 could carry lots of bombs and airborne life rafts
and quite a few passengers and so on, just not at the same time.

> Mosquito fighter/bombers being produced in Canadian factory[2]
> Footnotes
> [1] de Havilland Mosquito - Wikipedia
> [2] De Havilland Mosquito
> 16.4K views166 upvotes1 share11 comments


Diagram of a Mark 1, 4000lb High Capacity bomb

The bombs then called Blockbusters were the RAF's HC (High Capacity) bombs. These bombs had especially thin casings that allowed them to contain approximately three-quarters of their weight in explosive, with a 4,000 pound bomb containing over 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of Amatol. Most General-purpose bombs (termed Medium Capacity—or MC—by the RAF) contained 50% explosive by weight, the rest being made up of the fragmentation bomb casing. Blockbusters got larger as the war progressed, from the original 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) version, up to 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg).

The Mark 1 4000 lb bomb was a welded, cylindrical shell, made of 0.31-inch (7.9 mm) thick steel. The body of the bomb was 30 inches (76 cm) in diameter and 88 inches (2.2 m) long. The nose of the bomb was conical and a 27-inch (69 cm) long cylindrical tail was fitted (a lightweight, empty cylinder with a closed end). A T-section steel beam was welded to the inner surface of the bomb to strengthen it. Ώ] Subsequent Mark II and Mark III HC bombs differed in detail the conical nose was replaced with a domed nose and the number of fuzes was increased from one to three, in order to guarantee detonation. The Mark IV bomb did not have the T-section beam. The Mark V and Mark VI bombs were versions manufactured in the United States. ΐ]

The larger 8,000 lb bomb was constructed from two 4,000 lb sections that fitted together with bolts, although these sections were of a larger 38 in (97 cm) diameter. Α] A 12,000 lb version was created by adding a third 4,000 lb section. Β] Γ]

The 4,000 lb high capacity design was little more than a cylinder full of explosives—it was unaerodynamic and did not have fins. When fitted with a nose spoiler and a drum tail the bomb fell straight. These bombs were designed for their blast effect, to cause damage to buildings - specifically to blow roof tiles off, so that the smaller 4 lb (1.8 kg) incendiary bombs could reach the building interiors. These high capacity bombs were only used by the RAF, being too big to fit in the bomb bays of other countries' aircraft.

In 1947 Alfred Brooks of Stourbridge was awarded the Order of the British Empire, for creating the Blockbuster. The local newspaper referred to him as "Blockbuster Brooks".


A blockbuster bomb or cookie was any of several of the largest conventional bombs used in World War II by the Royal Air Force (RAF). The term blockbuster was originally a name coined by the press and referred to a bomb which had enough explosive power to destroy an entire street or large building through the effects of blast in conjunction with incendiary bombs.

An important feature of the Lancaster was its large 33 ft (10.05 m) long bomb bay. Initially, the heaviest bomb carried was the 4000 lb (1814 kg) high capacity (HC) ‘Cookie’. Bulged doors were added to 30% of the Lancaster force to allow the aircraft to carry 8000 lb (3628 kg) and later 12,000 lb (5443 kg) ‘Cookies’.

The first type of aircraft to carry bombs operationally was the Wellington, but they later became part of the standard bomb load of the RAF’s heavy night bombers, as well as that of the Mosquitoes of the Light Night Strike Force, whose aircraft would sometimes visit Berlin twice in one night carrying bombs, flown by two different crews. The 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) and the 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) could be carried only by the Avro Lancaster which needed to be slightly modified with bulged bomb-bay doors.

The first use of the 8,000 lb was by 15 Squadron Lancasters against Berlin on 2 December 1943. Bad weather and other factors meant their effectiveness was not noted.

The 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) “cookie” was regarded as a particularly dangerous load to carry. Due to the airflow over the detonating pistols fitted in the nose, it would often explode even if dropped, i.e., jettisoned, in a supposedly “safe” unarmed state. The Safety height above ground for dropping the 4,000 lb “cookie” was 6,000 feet (1,800 m) any lower and the dropping aircraft risked being damaged by the explosion’s atmospheric shock wave:

We were flying at 6,000 feet which was the minimum height to drop the 4,000 pounder. We dropped it in the middle of town [Koblenz], which gave the aircraft a hell of a belt, lifted it up and blew an escape hatch from out of the top.

— Jack Murray, pilot of “G for George”, reporting on G for George’s mission on 17th April 1943.

In August 692 Squadron [Mosquitos] at Graveley had a run of bad luck. On the 25th Squadron Leader W.D.W. Bird and Sergeant F.W. Hudson were killed when they crashed at Park Farm, Old Warden near Bedford. It was believed that the pilot misread his altimeter. On 27 August 1944 on a trip to Mannheim Flight Lieutenant T.H. Galloway DFM and Sergeant J. Murrell swung on take-off, caught fire and blew up. The ‘Cookie’ went off, but was not detonated, so it did not cause too much damage. Galloway and Murray got out when the Mosquito caught fire and ran to safety. Over the target Flying Officer S.G.A. Warner and Flying Officer W.K. McGregor RCAF were shot down and killed and the searchlights and flak followed them all the way down. On 10/11 September it was the old Milk Run again to Berlin. Terry Goodwin DFC DFM a 692 Squadron pilot at Graveley flew this operation, his last on the Mosquito and he had a rather anxious time, as he recounts:

After Hugh Hay had finished his tour I had several good navigators with nothing to worry about. However, when my last trip was coming up there was a new navigator posted in. He was a Warrant Officer with no trips in at all. I just could not figure that out when all crews at that time had a tour under their belts and knew what the score was. I took him for a cross-country, which was not satisfactory as he had trouble with the Gee. I did not know whether it was a ‘short’ or a ‘long’ trip: either the Ruhr or Berlin. It turned out to be the ‘big city’.

The night was clear. The take-off with the 4,000lb ‘Cookie’ was good. The aircraft was singing right along with all gauges OK. The track was out over the North Sea towards Denmark then a sharp turn right south-east to a point just west of Berlin then straight east for the bombing run. When we were approaching this turning point it was clear with no moon. I could see the coast outline right from Denmark south. The tram trolleys of Hamburg were still making their blue sparks and then shut down fully. Then the sprog navigator said to me, “I don’t know where we are!” I told him to get the course from the turning point and I would tell him when to start all over again. He did and got us just west of Berlin on time or at least I thought we were on time. I told him to log the time, then go and dump the Window down the chute. There was no action outside as we ran up looking for the ‘TIs’. Jerry was playing it very careful giving nothing away. Where was that PFF type? The TIs should be going down! Then all hell broke loose. Every searchlight in the city came on right on us and the flak was too damn close. I turned sharp right and dived 2,000ft, straightened out back on course, held it, turned left and climbed and got more flak but further away. And this kept on and on. Finally the lights were bending east so I thought we should be through the city. I turned back west and still no PFF. I told the navigator to drop the ‘Cookie’ (I don’t think we got a proper picture) because the flak was hard at us again. Then the TIs went down right ahead of us so we were pretty close. But the flak kept on and I twisted and dived and climbed and kept that up. I knew we were down to about 17,000ft when I suddenly saw the light flak opening up. You knew it was pretty if it was not so damn serious. I turned and climbed out on the west side of Berlin. I told the navigator to log the time. We had been in it for 11 minutes with Jerry’s undivided attention. Were there any fighters? Not that I saw, maybe I was just too busy. It would not have been a safe place for them with all that flak around. We did get home and logged 4 hours and 30 minutes. The next morning the Flight Sergeant found me and then showed me the aircraft. It was full of flak the main spar of the tail plane was getting an 18-inch splice. He dug a piece of flak out for me. One piece had just nicked the intercooler rad, then the fairing for the main rad. but not the tubes, but was spent as it bounced around the engine.

Berlin at this time was the ‘favourite’ destination for the Mosquitoes. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights at 8 (PFF) Group stations were routed to the Big City over towns and cities whose air raid sirens would announce their arrival overhead, although they were not the targets for the Mosquitoes’ bombs. Depriving the Germans of much needed sleep and comfort was a very effective nuisance weapon, while a 4,000pounder nestling in the bomb bay was a more tangible ‘calling card’. The ‘night postmen’ had two rounds: After take-off crews immediately climbed to height, departed Cromer and flew the dog-leg route Heligoland-Bremen-Hamburg. The second route saw departure over Woodbridge and went to The Ruhr-Hannover-Munich. Two Mosquito bombers, which failed to return from the attack on Berlin on 13/14 September, were claimed shot down south-east of the capital by Oberfeldwebel Egbert Jaacks of I./NJG10 and at Braunschweig by Leutnant Karl Mitterdorfer of 10./JG300.

The ever-increasing Mosquito strength was put to good effect on 1/2 February, 1945 when 176 Mosquito sorties were flown on eight separate targets. Ludwigshafen, Mainz, Siegen, Bruckhausen, Hannover, Nuremburg and Berlin were all hit the latter involving 122 Mosquitoes. Berlin would suffer mercilessly at the hands of the LNSF during the final months of the war and, from 20/21 February, the capital was attacked on 36 consecutive nights. Averaging 60 Mosquitoes per raid, 2,538 sorties were flown to Berlin, of which 2,409 were successful. Some 855 cookies were dropped on the city during this period alone and the LNSF continued to bomb Berlin right up to the arrival of the Russian forces in late April 1945.

4000 lb HC bomb

Mark I: first production design

Mark II: three nose pistols

Mark III: no side pistol pockets

Mark IV: no stiffening beam

Filling was Amatol, RDX/TNT, Minol, or Torpex. In 1943, 25,000 of these were used this rose to 38,000 in 1944. In 1945 up to the end of the war a further 25,000 were used.


Who knows how the threat will develop and what technological advances will occur in the next 100 years? The unification of Europe and the end of the Cold War have considerably reduced the local threat but distant countries can now pose a threat through the use of long-range ballistic missiles and the possibility of the spread of weapons of mass destruction. A missile shield covering Europe is possibly the answer to these distant threats.


This history has drawn upon information and images posted on a number of websites. In particular I would like to acknowledge the following sites for the images they have made available. I believe the images I have used to be in the public domain though I have not been able to contact the webmaster of some of the sites to confirm this. Should some material be under copyright I will rectify when notified.

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