[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he De Havilland DH.103 Hornet was a Spec. F.12/43 long-range day  fighter capable of reaching a top speed of at least 480 mph (772.5 km/h). Although it arrived too late to participate in the Second World War, it was ordered both by the RAF and by the Royal Navy. For the Royal Navy it was intended to operate from aircraft carriers, fitted with an arrester hook and foldable wings. Royal Navy also used a two-seat version  as a long-range night fighter. With the arrival of the first generation of jet planes, it was in fact the last operational piston-engine warplane, together with Hawker’s SeaFury.  In total 211 Hornets and 178 Sea Hornets were built, including the prototypes.

DH Hornet & Sea Hornet, De Havilland's ultimate piston-engined fighter by Tony Butler, David Collins and Martin Derry

DH Hornet & Sea Hornet, De Havilland's ultimate piston-engined fighter by Tony Butler, David Collins and Martin Derry

The twin-engine Hornet was based on the successful wartime Mosquito, although it was as a single-seater somewhat smaller and lighter. While the Mosquito was constructed entirely of wood, the Hornet was of mixed construction.

The high speed dictated by Spec. F.12/43 could be easily met; in fact the top speed of the  prototype was 491 mph or 790 km/h and although later versions with operational equipment were somewhat slower, it was a phenomenal speed that is even impressive today! Tony Butler and his colleagues describe in 144 pages the development of the early Hornet and Sea Hornet, their operational careers both at RAF and Royal Navy and their operational use in Malaya as an attack bomber. In their book some 220 photos are published, including a number of rare colour shots  as well as some drawings. The book also contains not less than 17 pages of colour profiles and 3-views of all versions used. One small point of criticism is that in the list of technical details and performances no metric numbers are used!

For the rest I can only say it is an impressive book on a impressive fighter!

Book details:

Title: DH Hornet & Sea Hornet.-De Havilland’s ultimate piston-engined fighter
Authors: Tony Butler, David Collins and Martin Derry.
ISBN: 978-1-905414-12-3
Type/size: soft-cover at A4 size
Number of pages: 144
Publisher: Dalrymple and Verdun Publishing, UK (www.dvpublishing.co.uk)
Price: £ 24.95

Nico Braas

Sample book provided by Bill Anderson from Dalrymple & Verdun publishing