During the Second World War, the British De Havilland Mosquito light bomber achieved success in raids through its sheer speed. Traveling at up to 392 mph, it could outrun virtually all piston-engined interceptors, removing the need for it to carry defensive weaponry. Later in the war though, German jets like the ME-262 could travel at speeds in excess of 500 mph, seemingly making the Mosquito obsolete. How did the Mosquito compete with these jets successfully, despite the obsolescence of its only major advantage?

  • $\begingroup$ "Outrun" is a bit of a simplification; the Mosquito also had much better maneouverability than earlier light bombers (it was by no means designed for dogfighting but had more than just speed in its favour) example $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    May 11, 2018 at 9:10

4 Answers 4


The Mosquito was a great aircraft but it was not faster than Germany's Messerschmitt ME-109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 piston powered fighter aircraft.

It also did not successfully compete with the jet powered Messerschmitt Me 262. The limited numbers of ME-262 were probably the only reason the Mosquito could survive in the same airspace.

On 26 July 1944 the first aircraft to be shot down by a ME-262 was in fact a Mosquito: Mosquito Operational History

"a 262 A-1a, caught and severely damaged the Mosquito in a pursuit. The Mosquito, which managed to escape into cloud, later crashed at its destination airfield in Italy, and the airframe was written off"

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    $\begingroup$ If it made it home, did it really get shot down? :) $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Mar 5, 2016 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's considered shot down in the damage done resulted in the airplane not being usable anymore. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Mar 7, 2016 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ Actually the Mosquito was faster than the BF109 (~400 to 450 mph vs 379 mph) and barely faster than the FW-190. However it was able to fly far higher than either, unless the german aircraft were specially modified for high altitude intercepts. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2018 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ It is difficult to directly compare aircraft performance because there are many variables. (operation weight, operational altitude, external stores, etc.) I have never heard of a 450 mph Mosquito (415 mph is the usual quoted top speed and the ME109K had a top speed 440 mph) wwiiaircraftperformance.org is a great resource for researching WW II aircraft performance. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2018 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ The account mossie.org/stories/Norman_Malayney_2.htm gives a good description of the speed during the combat with a flight of ME-262's $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2018 at 14:52

There's a pretty good account of two of the early encounters between photo recon Mosquitos and an ME-262 at this link: http://www.mossie.org/stories/Norman_Malayney_2.htm

In both cases while the ME-262s were about 50 mph faster than the Mosquitos, because the Mosquito was much more maneuverable than the ME-262 both survived.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jul 10, 2018 at 20:43

By the time that the ME-262 became operational, there was a huge lack of fuel, oil and resources in germany. They also lacked trained, experienced pilots. This means that missions in the ME-262 were limited, and they did not usually go up to shoot down photo-recon mosquitos. Instead the ME-262 and other german fighters of the time were reserved for anti-bombing missions were they tried to shoot down enemy bombers. This means that encounters between the Mosquito and the ME-262 were not that common, and if they found each other, the ME-262 would usually win.


the first encounter between the Mosquito and the Me262 was reported by the Mosquito crew (Wall and Lobban) on 25th of July 1944, while the Me262 pilot Scheiber reported the encounter on 26th July 1944. Scheiber reported the Mosquito as a kill but the the latter survived and landed safely at a friendly base in Italy.

available records do not specify if said Mosquito was able to operate again, but damage was described as non-lethal. the navigator did mention that the "outer dome" was blown out, but if it could fly from Germany to Italy then likely the damage was not enough to warrant a kill. it probably flew again.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Stack Exchange. It would improve your answer if you could include some sources for the information you've provided. $\endgroup$
    – Cooper
    May 10, 2018 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ Proper capitalisation of sentences would also give a bit more credibility. $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    May 10, 2018 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ see my above comment, but there's the link mossie.org/stories/Norman_Malayney_2.htm BTW your credibility could be much enhanced without the snark @Transistor $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2018 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Larry: It's not a snark. It's an encouragement to write properly as is recommended on most of the SE sites. Bad writing makes the posts difficult or confusing to read and reflect poorly on the author as well as lowering the overall quality of the SE sites. We make allowances if English is not a first language but there is nothing in the user profile to indicate this (and all European languages use capital letters at the start of sentences). $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Jul 12, 2018 at 15:05

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