Under the RADAR: The worst and the best RAF night fighter

Under the RADAR: The worst and the best RAF night fighter


Hello, my name is Martin. I am a Visitor Experience Assistant here at Cosford I’d like to talk to you today about the best
night fighter and the worst night fighter. This is the Boulton Paul Defiant.
I’ll let you decide where it sits. This aircraft as a night fighter has some
problems you can see at the front here. It has flame retardant exhaust ports but
these would glow bright red to white at night. It’s also a very slow airplane: it
was only flying at 17 miles an hour faster to the Heinkel 111. In around
1942, thanks to technical advances, the Heinkel 111 now left it standing and it
was taken out of use. The Boulton Paul Defiant was designed initially as a day
fighter. All its offensive weapons were in this turret. There was no forward
capability at all. The turret could work at 90 degrees to the fin and either
direction, but not forward at all. Professor Lindemann, Churchill’s
scientific adviser, claimed that aircraft meeting at 600 miles an hour couldn’t
fight head-on, so there’s no need for forward firing weapons. He thought the
only way he could fire was sideways into each other like ships. I think it’s possibly the worst night fighter of World War Two. And now to, possibly in my opinion, the best night fighter of the Royal Air Force: the de Havilland
Mosquito. De Havilland designed this aircraft initially as an unarmed fast
bomber Due to its wooden construction and its
smooth skin and the twin Merlin engine power plants, it made it the fastest
bomber of World War Two. The Mosquito was a very successful bomber and also
reconnaissance aircraft. Ultimately became a night fighter and replaced the
Plexiglas window, you can see behind me, with a gun pack of four guns and radar,
making it a very successful night fighter. Over the same period of time, the
Mosquito managed to shoot down twice as many aircraft as the Defiant had in the
year previous, even though there were fewer Mosquitoes flying then there had
been Defiants. Perhaps one of the greatest tributes to this aircraft was
by Hermann Goering, head of the German air force. He once said that whenever he
hears or sees a Mosquito, he turns yellow and green with envy. ‘The
British who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock up a wooden wonder in their sheds.’ If you’d like to see the Boulton Paul Defiant whether de Havilland Mosquito, please come to the RAF Museum Cosford.

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