de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Multirole Heavy Fighter / Fighter-Bomber
The classic British de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito night fighter found few challengers during World War 2.
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Discussions of war-winning World War 2 aircraft regularly seem to leave out one of the most famous and successful of the conflict - Geoffrey de Havilland's twin-seat, twin-engined DH.98 "Mosquito". The type was a true "multirole" performer in that in was used as a fighter, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance mount, night fighter, anti-ship platform, patrol, intruder and interceptor against the best the Reich could offer - very few Axis aircraft could even catch it. The aircraft was designed from the outset as a multirole weapon and served throughout most of World War 2 and into the Cold War years before finally being retired. Her crews enjoyed her basic creature comforts (heated cockpit), fighter-like performance, handling, and speed and inherent offensive capabilities (cannon, machine gun, bombs, torpedoes and rockets), making her a star in the history's greatest air war. The DH.98 earned the nickname of "Wooden Wonder" in reference to its heavy use of wood throughout her design.
Origins of the DH.98 was owed to development of all-wood de Havilland racing planes appearing in the mid-1930s as the designation of DH.88 "Comet". The extensive use of a wood (plywood/balsa) with stressed skin approach proved them somewhat of a revolutionary departure from the metal-skinned airframes beginning to take hold in military inventories around the globe. The Comet went on to claim the London-Melbourne Centenary Races and de Havilland then moved to produce an airliner-minded design utilizing the same wood approach, this giving rise to seven examples of the beautifully streamlined DH.91 Albatross first flying in 1937. Despite his wooden designs being consistently rejected by the British Air Ministry, de Havilland persisted when authorities sought a new medium bomber design through Specification P.13/36. However, once again, a modified form of the Albatross was rejected by the Air Council due to the focus falling on metal-skinned designs.