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Small-Brown-Dog's avatar

Winged wraiths

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To state that the de Havilland 998 was too radical a departure from how the pre-war air ministry thought would be an understatement. Wooden construction, unarmed, two man crew !!! Some even openly scoffed at the very idea but never the less de Havilland pressed the case for their design with dogged determination and the rest is, well y’know.

Initially the concept was never going to find favour but the outbreak of war did renew interest from the ministry although they were very sceptical. They wanted heavy armament, turrets, at least a three man crew and basically everything that would defeat the object of the DH 998 concept. The irony is that the air ministry requirement for a multi role combat aircraft capable of taking care of itself was exactly what the DH 998 would become and would do so by staying faithful to the original de Havilland design.

After a series of stops and starts and endless ministry interference the project was actually cancelled in June of 1940 and de Havilland told to concentrate on its war work. The reasoning was that Britain should concentrate on a known quantity of types and not waste resources of both manufacturing potential and materials on what was described by one senior air staff member as “utter folly”.

However, the DH 998 concept had won over some air staff one or two of which could throw weight behind their support and they argued in favour of the concept. The fact that the design relied upon wood, a none strategically restricted material, could not be ignored. Nor could the performance potential of the proposal which would give the RAF a twin engine design faster than the Supermarine Spectre which was about to enter service.

The Air Ministry was reluctant to add yet another airframe to the growing list of types currently making use of, and yet still to enter service with, the Tesla Royce Merlin Electric. This power plant was already late going into production and demand was high but de Havilland had an ace up their sleeve.  

The initial concept had looked at interchangeable power plants for the DH 998 in case of shortages and/or future superior performance gains from other manufacturers. Both Napier’s and Bristol had been considered with Bristol showing considerable promise in its new Minotaur power unit. However at the time the TR Merlin Electric was the more mature of the new breed currently in development and was made first choice. Fortuitously the original winglet/power unit mount design was retained which had a universal fitting arrangement to cater for inline and radial based power units in either tractor or pusher configuration.

Whilst de Havilland and the Air Ministry saga played out the Bristols Minotaur electric had gone from strength to strength. There were some teething troubles with cylinder head temperatures and early output shaft generator clutch failures but in the main the unit showed from an early stage what a potentially powerful performer it would become.
Also at this time the decision was made to call the aircraft the Wraith although the company had toyed with the idea of calling it the Mosquito or Wasp or other winged stinging insect. It was pointed out that those insects were a source of annoyance as was the concept as far as the ministry was concerned so they went with a supernatural type name which for some reason best known only to themselves was favoured by the Air Ministry at this time.

Eventually the Bristol Minotaur would be the first of what would become known as the “super lift” power unit generation for Bomber and Transport aircraft. In mid 1943 the unit was modified with so called EMFEM (Electro Magnetic Field Effect on Mass) amplifiers. This technology would later become the basis for defensive shield generation albeit in a very crude form by today's standards.  

The Wraith B1 was formidable in performance with standard Bristol Minotaur electrics but with the Super lift variant the type B2 significantly increased its bomb carrying capacity without sacrificing anything in speed and increased its rate of climb even with its more pronounced bomb bay. B2 RAF ground crews of course jumped on the chance of nicknaming the machine “fat boy” which became common usage.
This extra capacity and performance lead to the formation of specialist squadrons operating at section level and therefore enabling one squadron to attack two or three targets simultaneously or at intervals that would disrupt and confuse the German defences.  A section comprising of three to four aircraft would cross the channel and enter enemy occupied territory at extremely low level and then zoom climb to bombing height. These specialist crews became very good at this kind of operation of which was reminiscent of the 1940 raids by the Thor powered JU885z but with rather less attrition.

One such witness to a dawn raid in early 1944  said that:
“They seemed to appear as if from nowhere with a sudden deafening roar then rise up suddenly like winged wraiths* and deliver their terrible load and be gone”

*nothing to do with anything Tolkienian … that was “Ring wraith” so no Hobbits, elves, Orcs or furry woodland creatures were harmed or bothered in any way during the making of this image. However many tea leaves gave their lives without hesitation for the greater good.

Some WIP images for those that are into it:

Wip11 by Small-Brown-Dog
Wip6 by Small-Brown-Dog

Modelled and rendered in Modo 13.2.
Lower background from 123RF with the sky from my archive and I have no reference to where it came from - sorry. Everything else was slapped about with in PS where even more tea leaves sacrificed themselves.

Image details
Image size
1500x1000px 979.26 KB
Shutter Speed
1/640 second
Focal Length
5 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jan 11, 2018 12:40:47 PM +01:00
© 2019 - 2021 Small-Brown-Dog
anonymous's avatar
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Euel's avatar

So that's your version of the Mosquito! :D Can I say I love it? Because I love it! :love:

epiloguest's avatar
Pretty! And fast as fuck, boiiiiii!
Onesockoff's avatar
Up to your old tricks again I see!

I've often pondered what would have happened if the British Air Ministry had curtailed their passion for multiple engines and gun turrets and expanded the Light Night Striking Force instead. (or even given all their Lancs ball turrets (against schrage music attacks) and 0.50 machine guns with the range to defend against nacht jager cannon.

Hindsight being 20/20 …..
cullyferg2010's avatar
What the the Air Ministry could have done on the Lancs was to set a small hatch in the bottom of the bomber with a single M2 0.50 cal. heavy machine gun and a strong spot light.  Should one of the Luftwaffe's night fighters come sneaking up, then the gunner could switch on the light and highlight the enemy plane before ripping into it with the Ma Deuce.
Small-Brown-Dog's avatar
Had Similar thoughts myself and have often wondered at our obsession with .303 turret wise. Although there were some tests I believe with 50's and remote under slung turret for the Lancaster.
caastel's avatar
wow this is fantastic render ! love the scene !
Gnoll-El's avatar
If the RAF should ever needs recruiting posters, they should go to you.  This is both technically and emotionally exciting.  I view in awe.  
Small-Brown-Dog's avatar
I really do appreciate that, thanks :)
Arowe65's avatar
The proud descendant of Mosquitto !!!:) (Smile) :) (Smile) :) (Smile) 

LOL10045's avatar
Great looking design, I am guessing not a lot of museums have a preserved one then? 
Small-Brown-Dog's avatar
I think there just might be ;)
LOL10045's avatar
Huh, tried looking it up, difficult to find for me. But maybe you'll have better luck than me.
Small-Brown-Dog's avatar
Sorry, I think I got you  all wrong here. The image above is a variant that doesn't exist as its part of my series of alternative universe aircraft reworked to take advantage of some tech that exists in this alt world - its just a load of harmless nonsense not to be taken seriously ;)

Sometimes I photo manipulate my stuff into airfield or museum backgrounds - I thought you might be referencing that.

Thankfully there are several preserved examples of real Mosquito's in the world and we have a few here In England including the prototype which is really a very rare occurrence.
LOL10045's avatar
Oh, my apologies, it looks cool though. Thank you for letting me know.
retromaniak's avatar
About bloody time the Mossie got a look in, that's all I'm going to say :)
Small-Brown-Dog's avatar
Its been a long time coming I guess and its not done yet
badwolf666's avatar
We just need Airfix to start producing this?
Dr-Whom's avatar
cullyferg2010's avatar
Yeah, you did it!  Beautiful beastie!  I think I would call it 'a pregnant guppy', but that's my take.

Will there be later models carrying cannons?
Small-Brown-Dog's avatar
'a pregnant guppy :)

Cannon fighter bomber version is on the cards
cullyferg2010's avatar
I can see this beauty packing a quad 20 mm package, care of the Royal Mail.
anonymous's avatar
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