Alan Dicey's review of 'Mosquito: The Illustrated History' and 'Mosquito: A Pictorial History of the DH98' by Philip Birtles


As you might expect, these books are strongly related. Both have a similar layout, beginning with the background to the aircraft, and the design and construction of the prototype. Flowing on, there are separate chapters detailing Bomber, Photo-Reconnaissance, Fighter and specialist variant development. The earlier book has pictures from the Highball trials, which are not in the more recent one. Next the production in the UK and abroad is analysed, followed by a description of the production process.

Both books then go on to describe Mosquito operations, in chapters dedicated to photo-reconnaisance, fighter, bomber and fighter-bomber types. Other duties, exports and civil operations are covered in the final two chapters.

Appendices cover Specification and Performance, Production, Squadrons and Preserved Mosquito's. The production details are not those seen in most other books which (to my knowledge) miss out B MkIV production in the DZ340-390 area. As Birtles is a de Havilland man, it is possible that he had access to records that were not available to other authors.

The later book has more pictures, and most are confined to one page or the other, unlike the earlier book which splashes several pictures across two pages. However, there are a surprising number of new pictures in the later book, and many of the earlier pictures are not repeated. A completist would want both books for this reason alone, but the later book is definitely the better one, and has the signal virtue of being in print at the time of writing (August 2001).

All the famous highlights of the Mosquito's glorious career are covered; "Cats-Eyes" Cunningham and other night-fighters, bombers in the LNSF and Pathfinder operations, the pinpoint fighter-bomber raids on Amiens prison and various Gestapo headquarters, intruder and coastal strike operations, navalised variants and civil operations on the "ball-bearing" run to Sweden. If you only have one Mosquito book, this is a strong candidate for that place.

Alan Dicey, August 2001

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