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All Mosquito (or similar) Bomber Command force in WWII ?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Justin Smith, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith Member

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    What would have been the pros and cons of an all Mosquito (and/or other fast medium bomber) force during WWII ?
    I have often thought about this. The cost, in terms of money and, more importantly, crew deaths, of the heavy bomber assault on Germany was huge. In fact, as we all know, RAF bomber crews had a less than 50% chance of survival from just one tour. From November 1943 to March 1944 Berlin was repeatedly bombed, the loss rate of the heavy bombers (predominantly Lancaster's) was 5.1%, for the Mosquito it was 0.5%. Even allowing for a significant increase in the light / medium bomber loss rate it`d still be far below that for the slower heavies.
    OK a force of thousands of lighter bombers would not have been able to drop the same weight of bombs as the force of heavies actually fielded, but the cost (money and men) would have been far less. Further, one of the main successes of the bomber offensive was to keep thousands of guns and fighters back in Germany for home defence, and surely they would still have been required.

    A Mossie could take 4,000lbs if bombs versus a Lancaster`s (approx) 14,000lbs.
    A Mossie couldn`t take a Tallboy or Grand Slam but would the inability to deliver those weapons have made a material difference to the outcome of the war.
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    This question is quite frequently raised and I admit, on the face of it seems quite beguiling.

    However, one has to do a reality check. the '400lb of bombs' is more accurately '4000lb of bomb' . These were of course the single 4000lb 'Cookies' dropped by a very few B.IXs and more usually the B.XVI ( both specially modified ) during 1944-45. The more normal Mosquito bomb load of smaller-capacity stores was 2000lb-3000lb.

    Two key points would need careful consideration under the realities of war ; firstly, aircrew training. Mosquitoes are challenging to fly and both navigator/bomb aimer and pilot needed to be above average ; there were no 'bus drivers' in the Mosquito squadrons.

    Secondly - industrial capacity. Mosquito mass-production was a wartime triumph but they are complex to build, requiring great skill and experience of working with wood. de Havilland and their many subcontractors were geared up for what they achieved, but I'm not sure that a massive increase would have been viable. Also, supplies of spruce and balsa wood were not inexhaustible......

    I do think that this is a theory which can work on paper, but not in reality.
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The other factor is that the enemy had a vote. During WW2 the Germans focused research and development effort on what they considered the biggest threats. By mid 1943 that threat was of C.1,000 four engined bombers devastating a city. The Mosquitoes, annoying though they might have been, were a minor threat. The Germans developed a night fighter force based around twin engined aircraft carrying the ordnance needed to bring down a four engined bomber. These were not fast enough to catch a Mosquito. If the British had relied on an all Mosquito force, wouldn't the Germans put effort into a really fast night fighter, perhaps based on the Me410 or expedited development of the Dornier 335 or Me 262?
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Also, tactics would play a part. A bomber stream would negate the Mossie's better maneuverability. So, the Britsh would have to develop a better way to control a 1,000 Mossie raid.

    Also, how fast was a fully loaded Mossie? I didn't think they were that fast all bombed up.
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Fair points. Area- or saturation-bombing depended on concentration of dropped explosive in as short a time as possible and also a 'mix' of HE and incendiaries. This would be difficult to achieve with light bombers.

    Speed depended on height, which was a further reason for the very low loss rates among Mosquitoes. The LNSF B.Mk XVIs with their pressurised cabins could cruise at 245mph at a height of 35,000ft ( approx. 15,000ft higher than most heavy bombers ). It's important to note that these raids were 'nuisance' raids designed to deprive the Germans of sleep. The big 'Cookies' simply tumbled from the bomb-bay with the objective of landing somewhere in Berlin....

    To achieve accuracy the Mosquitoes would need to use much lower altitudes as they did when marking targets for the following Main Force, which brings us full circle......
     
    Carronade likes this.
  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    For discussion, let's consider four Mosquitos comparable to one heavy bomber. A Lancaster or Halifax carried seven crewmen, two of them gunners. The Mossies would have eight crewmen, all highly trained, including four pilots vs. one. Two men in a Mossie had to do the work of five in a heavy, flying the same missions, distances, etc. so their training might be more extensive, although some aspects of flying a twin-engine plane may be less challenging.

    The Mossies would have twice as many engines and four times as many bombsights, radios, etc. although their electronic suite might be less complex than a Lanc's; for example, would they have H2S? That also means they might lack some of the capabilities of the heavies.

    Four times as many planes would probably mean 2-3 times as many ground crew and support staff. More fuel, oil, spare parts, etc. On the other hand there would be a saving in ammunition and maintenance of turrets and guns.

    Takeoff intervals might be a bit shorter but they'd still need more airfields to put the same tonnage of bombs aloft at one time, and it would probably take longer and be more complicated to organize the bomber stream, assuming they still used that technique.

    Martin makes a good point that the historical Mosquito production may have maxed out the capacity of the wooden aircraft sector.

    "the loss rate of the heavy bombers (predominantly Lancaster's) was 5.1%, for the Mosquito it was 0.5%. Even allowing for a significant increase in the light / medium bomber loss rate it`d still be far below that for the slower heavies."

    It wouldn't be a one-for-one comparison, for example, 51 per 1000 Lancasters, 20 per 4000 Mosquitoes, even before we consider the different modus operandi. Still favors the little guys, just not as much.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Good points from Carronade. I'd only make the small observation again that actually, although many twin-engine aircraft were relatively easy to fly ( eg B-25 Mitchell ) the Mosquito was something of a 'throughbred'. It was capable of very high performance but the power-to-weight ratio allied to small tail surfaces made it particularly tricky to handle during takeoff and landing. It really wasn't an aircraft for inexperienced pilots and relatively high numbers were lost at UK airfields.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Looking back at this, I had a thought, which turns out to be @Justin Smith's original thought ;) As Martin said, the woodworking industries that built the Mosquito could not expand indefinitely, but Justin's question was "Mosquito (or similar)". If Bomber Command had adopted the philosophy of relying primarily on fast, unarmed bombers, they could develop aircraft with similar characteristics to the Mossie but of conventional construction, all-metal or metal frame.

    There would probably still be a proportion of four-engine bombers for missions requiring their payload or performance (hopefully long-range aircraft would still be available for the Battle of the Atlantic). The RAF would still be able to use Tallboys and Grand Slams if desired, although the latter do not seem to have had much impact on the overall course of the war since they were first used only in March 1945.
     
  9. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    The problem there could be - which bombers ? After all, Mosquito design commenced in 1939 and the prototype flew in January '41 ( and it was primarily a private effort by de Havilland ). So bombers capable of mass operational use in 1943/44 would need to have been in advanced stages of development by at least 1942.
     

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