23 December 2009

Although the USAAF used the De Havilland Mosquito PR.Mk XVI primarily in the photo-reconnaissance role in Europe, there were two lesser-known types of missions flown by the two squadrons of the 25th Bomb Group at were equipped with the Mosquito.

"Mickey ships" were specially-modified Mosquitos that were equipped with the H2X radar set used on the B-17 Flying Fortress. A bulged nose housing held the H2X scanner with the amplifier and electronics crammed in the nose and bomb bay. The radar scope itself, though, was in the rear fuselage. Before the approach to the target, the observer had to climb over the equipment in the bomb bay and into the rear fuselage where he either photographed the radar display or filmed it with a movie camera. The purpose of the "Mickey ships" was to get radar navigation images of the approaches to German targets. These images would be then correlated with maps to provide the B-17 navigators with poor-weather approaches to high-priority targets in Germany.

The H2X drew a current that often was more than the electrical system of the Mosquito and the equipment often arced, aborting the mission. If bailout was necessary, the observer had to climb over the equipment and jump out the bomb bay- assuming of course, the crew remembered to open the bay doors.

The other lesser-known USAAF Mosquito mission was code-named "Red Stocking" and were done in conjunction with the OSS, the CIA's predecessor. Equipped the special equipment, the Red Stocking Mosquito flights flew deep into Germany to detect and record UHF transmissions from OSS agents in the field. The bomb bay was modified to take the receiving equipment, an oxygen system, and accommodations for the observer who operated the receiving set.

The OSS agent carried what was called the "Joan-Eleanor" device, which was a four-pound radio set that beamed the agent's reports on a very narrow beam that was nearly impossible for German counterintelligence to detect via triangulation. A Red Stocking Mosquito would fly overhead a predetermined point at a particular time so the OSS agent could point the Joan-Eleanor antenna in the right direction. The missions were flown singly and at high altitude, often at night. In one mission, a Red Stocking flight circled over Berlin at over 30,000 feet to communicate with several OSS agents in the city.

Source: Wings of Fame, Volume 18. AIRtime Publishing, 2000, "de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito (Bomber and PR Variants" by Martin Bowman, p84-87.

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