Category Archives: Reconnaissance


De Havilland “Mosquito” F-8, 25th BG(R) -802 RG(P) (Matchbox)

TYPE: Photo-reconnaissance aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and radio-operator/navigator

POWER PLANT: Two Packard “Merlin” 31 or 33 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,460 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 408 mph at 28,000 ft

COMMENT: Until the end of WW II the de Havilland Company Canada rolled out 1,133 “Mosquito” aircraft of different subtypes.  The “Mosquito” B Mk XX was the Canadian version of the “Mosquito” B. Mk. IV bomber aircraft of which 145 were built. From these 40 were converted into F-8 photo-reconnaissance aircraft for the USAAF and used with the 8th USAAF in the European Theatre of Action. It had the same Packard “Merlin” engines and was equipped with three overload fuel tanks, totaling 3,500 L in the bomb bay. Additionally, for range extension it could also carry two 230 L or 450 L drop tanks.
The de Havilland “Mosquito” of 25th BG(R) -802 RG(P) were painted in normal RAF P.R. Blue finish. In August 1944 the vertical tail was colored in red and in September 1944 all tail surfaces were painted red. This marking was necessitated by frequency of misidentification of “Mosquito” as enemy type. Similar marking were used on BoeingB-17G of 652 BS.
The 25th Bombardment Group (Reconnaissance) was constituted in the days after D-Day and activated in England in August 1944 to carry out photographic and mapping missions over mainland Europe as the Allied armies pushed east. The Group were designated a Bombardment Group but they did not drop bombs. Instead they flew bombers to drop ‘chaff’ screenings for other Bomb Groups. ‘Chaff’, strips of metallic paper, would interfere with the enemy’s ability to detect aircraft using radar (Ref.: 24).

Republic XF-15 “Reporter” (Airfix, Parts from Airmodel, Vacu-formed)

TYPE: Photo-reconnaissance aircraft


POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-65 “Double Wasp” radial engines, rated at 2,000 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 376 mph at 17,000 ft

COMMENT: In autumn 1944, two Northrop P-61B “Black Widow” night fighters were extensively modified in an attempt to improve the performance and to extend the long-range in order to use these aircraft as long-range escort fighters.  Designated XP-61E the fuselage decking was cut flush with the wing to allow a large blown canopy to be fitted. The center and aft section of the fuselage nacelle housed additional fuel tanks and the nose radar was supplanted by four machine guns. The XP-61E’s were tested in the early month of 1945 but the second was lost in an accident on April 1945 and in view of the changing course of the war, further development of the “Black Widow” in this role as long-range escort fighter was abandoned. The first and remaining prototype was converted to the XF-15 “Reporter”, a long-range photo-reconnaissance aircraft, tested after the war. Due to the on-coming new turbojet powered aircraft a production order never was placed (Ref.: 9).

Supermarine ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX, 7th Photographic Group, 8th USAAF (Matchbox)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter, fighter bomber, photo-reconnaissance


POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce ‘Merlin 66’ liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,720 hp

PERFORMANCE: 404 mph at 21,000 ft

COMMENT: By the end of 1941, the ‘Spitfire’ Mk. V was experiencing increasing difficulty in combating the newer versions of the Messerschmitt Me 109 and found itself completely outclassed by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. So the need for a higher performance was a matter of the most vital urgency. In order to achieve the desired performance improvement with the least possible delay, it was decided to install the Rolls-Royce ‘Merlin 60’ Series engine in the basic ‘Spitfire’ Mk.VC, this marriage of convenience being designated ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX. Despite the fact that the ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX was considered solely as an interim type, it was to be produced in larger quantities than any other Spitfire variant, in total 5.665 aircraft being manufactured. Logical evolutions of the ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX were the photo-reconnaissance P.R. Mks. IX, X, and XI. A universal camera installation provided accommodation for two F.8 or F.52 vertical cameras, or two F.24 vertical and one F.24 oblique camera. A number of Spitfire P.R.Mk. IX was delivered to the 8th USAAF and the aircraft shown here belonged to the 7th Photographic Group, stationed at Chalgrove, U.K. (Ref.: 12)

Hughes XF-11 (Anigrand, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range reconnaissance-aircraft


POWER PLANT: Pratt & Whitney R-4360-31 Wasp Major, rated at 3,000 hp each


COMMENT: The Hughes XF-11 was designed as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft. Its design based on the Hughes D-2, a fighter and bomber project of early 1940, and resembled somewhat to the Lockheed P-38 Lightning but was much greater. So it had a tricycle landing-gear, two engines, twin boom and a pressurized central crew nacelle. In 1943 the USAAF ordered 100 F-11s, but only two examples were completed immediately after WWII. The first aircraft crashed in 1946 with Howard Hughes at the controls and the second prototype was completed and successfully flown in 1947. (Ref.: 23)