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Bristol Beaufighter

During the 1930's and the lead up the outbreak of WW2, there was no provision in the RAF's armoury for a long range fighter, a night fighter, nor a fighter capable of being armed with cannon.

Despite no official requirement, the designers at Bristol proposed a heavily armed twin engined fighter, with certain similarities to production Bristol aircraft for ease of manufacture. The Air Ministry was impressed, the prototype flew on the 17th July 1939, and deliveries started in mid 1940.

A total of 5,534 were produced and saw action until the end of the war, seeing action on all fronts. It was ideally suited for service with Coastal Command, being strong and capable of long range with the capability of carrying cannon, rockets, bombs and torpedoes.

Very few survive today, but there is a nice example in the RAF Museum Hendon and an example under construction at Duxford. 

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De Havilland Mosquito

The more famous Mosquito had a similarly troubled gestation period. De Havilland planned the Mosquito as an unarmed high speed bomber during 1938, using wooden construction to save on hard to obtain metals. The Air Ministry was unimpressed, suggesting De Havilland concentrated their efforts on making wings for bombers, and only in 1940 agreed for the project to proceed.

The yellow prototype was constructed in Salisbury Hall, near Hatfield, and was first flown on 25th November 1940. The rest is history, and with immediate impressive results the Mosquito became famous for it's speed, range and sheer adaptability. Banff Wing aircraft were heavily armed for anti shipping strikes, yet as fighters could dice with Messerschmitt 109's and Focke-Wulf 190's.

7,781 aircraft were constructed, in Britain, Australia and Canada.

The yellow prototype still exists and is on display in the De Havilland Heritage Centre. An immaculate example of the bomber version is also on display, and next to it is a Mk VI under restoration. The Mk VI is the fighter bomber / intruder version, as used by the Banff Wing and 2,584 were built (more than any other version) but it is a rare sight today.


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Websites for RAF Hendon museum, De Havilland Heritage centre and Duxford can be found on the links page.

Beaufighter firing rockets.      Beaufighter at RAF Hendon. 

  Mosquito VI armed with cannon and rockets.      Mosquito VI cockpit under construction. De Havilland Heritage Centre.

 Mosquito VI machine guns in nose. De Havilland Heritage Centre.      Mosquito VI under belly structure for 4 20mm Hispano cannon.  De Havilland Heritage Centre.

 Mosquito long range fuel tanks.  De Havilland Heritage Centre.      60lb rocket head.      Mosquito VI nose section.  De Havilland Heritage Centre.

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  Robbie Reid  2010