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A Most Secret Squadron

A Most Secret Squadron Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2009 Title A Most Secret Squadron
Author Des Curtis Publisher Grub Street Publishing
Published 2009 ISBN 978-1-906502-51-5
Format 308 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $39.95

Review

Many folks know the story of the famous Dambusters, the specially modified Avro Lancasters that dropped the bouncing bomb against the major dams along the Ruhr river. Some even know that this famous squadron was 617 Sqn RAF.

Did you know that there was smaller version of the bouncing bomb that was adapted to the de Havilland Mosquito? The Highball bouncing bomb was intended to be an anti-shipping weapon that could be used against the German heavy cruisers and pocket battleships.

The squadron designated to deliver the Highball was 618 Sqn RAF, and given its maritime mission, it was assigned to Coastal Command. The Highball Mosquitoes were trained and equipped to keep the Kriegsmarine Surface Fleet from breaking out of the North Sea. These Mosquitoes never saw action as the Germans never appeared and the squadron was assigned to operate the 'Tse Tse' variant of the Mosquito from aircraft carriers in the Pacific to deliver the Highball against high value Japanese capital ships. The aircraft were shipped to Australia and never saw action.

Even after 618 Sqn sailed around the world to sit out the war again, a detachment in the UK was given a new Mosquito variant armed with a 57mm cannon and designated as Mk.XVIII. These Mosquito Mk.XVIIIs were designed to hunt U-Boats and other surface targets of opportunity, retaining the squadron's maritime mission.

This new title from Grub Street Publications is penned by Des Curtis, DFC. If anyone should know the background and history of 618 Sqn and these U-boat hunting Mosquitoes, it would be the author as he was there. This interesting title takes you into the capabilities and missions of the de Havilland Mosquito and its crews in areas that have not been covered adequately previously.

The coverage of this informative title is presented as follows:.

  • The Battle of the Atlantic
  • Dr. Barnes Wallis and Weapon Development
  • The Creation of 618 Squadron in Coastal Command
  • The Squadron Shakes Down, and Wonders
  • The War Lords Deliberate
  • Overcoming Distance
  • Everything Changes
  • The New Theatre
  • New Artillery of the Sea
  • Warriors Above and Below the Sea Meet
  • Appendices

This is a nicely compiled and presented title that puts the Mosquito into a new perspective and how its crews rose to the missions even when the mission seemed elusive. While we know how effective the Wallis bomb was against the German dams, the weapon could have been crucial had the Germans opted to attempt to break out of the North Sea. These weapons could have been devastating against the Imperial Japanese Navy, but in the end, the Highball bouncing bomb was a contingency weapon that wasn't used.

This title is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!

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