Monday 9 October 2023

Guest Review: Mosquito By Rowland White

Built of lightweight wood, powered by two growling Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, impossibly aerodynamic, headspinningly fast and armed to the teeth, the de Havilland Mosquito was the war-winning wonder that should never have existed: the aircraft the RAF didn't think it wanted then couldn't do without.

Flying on operations barely eighteen months after a single prototype was ordered off the drawing board, it was the answer to its pilots' prayers: a stunningly versatile warplane capable of leaving the Luftwaffe in its wake to attack when and where the enemy was least expecting it.

Excelling as a spyplane, night-fighter and pathfinder for Bomber Command's heavies the Mossie's reputation was cemented by a series of daredevil bombing raids across occupied Europe, including on Berlin itself, where only surprise, speed and precision could ensure success.

So when Churchill's top secret Special Operations Executive needed to destroy the Gestapo HQ in the centre of downtown Copenhagen to prevent a devastating Nazi last stand that might prolong the war for many months, there was only one machine for the job - the Mosquito.

This is the story of that legendary aircraft told through that one impossible mission. 

Review: I was very interested to read this book about the de Havilland Mosquito, a twin-engined fighter-bomber aeroplane since the prototype was developed at a country house not very far from where my parents used to live. It made its maiden flight towards the end of 1940 and entered operational service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1941. Its construction was unusual in that, to avoid excessive use of essential materials such as aluminium and steel, it was built mainly of wood. This earned it the nickname of the “Wooden Wonder”, and meant that its lightweight construction gave it incredible speed.

Although ostensibly a book about the development and operational deployment of the Mosquito during the Second World War, the book is also an account of the struggles of the Danish Resistance following the Nazi occupation of their country in 1940. The Resistance was supported by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). The Mosquito aircraft fulfilled many roles for the RAF. In addition, Mosquitoes were flown by the civil airline British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to carry high value cargo, diplomatic material and, sometimes, important passengers from neutral countries over enemy-controlled airspace, where its ability to fly at high speed at altitude enabled it to avoid enemy interception. Probably the most important of these routes was from neutral Sweden to Scotland, overflying occupied Norway en route. However, one of the most famous roles of the aeroplane was as a low level bomber in daylight precision raids against discreet targets. Hence, the raid to breach the walls of Amiens Prison in France and attacks against the German Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus and Copenhagen in Denmark are described.

I found this to be a very interesting book about such a famous aeroplane, but I also learnt a great deal about the German occupation of Denmark during the War, much of which I was not aware. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in aviation and the history of the Second World War.

To order your copy now, just click here!

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