“Not that close, skipper!”

The result of getting too close to an exploding Dornier do 217

The fighter and fighter-bomber versions of the Mosquito carried very powerful gun armament, sometimes 4 x 303″ Browning machine guns and 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon. That’s rather like concentrating the fire of a Hurricane 2c AND a Boulton Paul Defiant onto a single enemy target at the same time – and remember, those two other types were both more than adequate night fighters/intruders, with many kills to their credit.

Not only that, but the firepower of the Mossie was concentrated in the space of only a few square feet, with no need to worry about ‘point harmonisation’ of the guns as in the Hurricane, and more markedly, the Spitfire. Consequently, the weight of shot was closely grouped already, and delivered a concentrated burst out to a longer distance.

Sometimes this had its disadvantages (see photograph). Here we see the result when a Hatfield-built NF.II, DZ757, RA-Q of 410 Sqn, RCAF, got very close to a Dornier Do 217 over the Netherlands, on the night of 26/27th September, 1943, before opening fire. The Dornier literally blew up in the faces of the pilot, Flt Lt M A Cybulski, RCAF and his navigator, Fg Off H H Ladbrook. Despite losing an engine, this Mossie made the long crossing over the North Sea safely and recovered to RAF Colby Grange, Lincolnshire, which by 1943, had become the only nightfighter station in what was to become forever known as ‘Bomber County’.

It just shows that the doubters in the Air Ministry who said that a wooden aircraft couldn’t stand up to ‘modern’ combat had it all wrong!

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