Aviation History

The incredible story of the RAF Mosquito Pilot that was able to land his Aircraft with the Tip of a Bullet from a Luftwaffe Ju 188 in his Liver

A good Ju 188 gunner could make his mark even on a Mosquito, as happened over the English Channel, some 30 miles south of Dungeness, in Kent, on the night of Nov. 6–7, 1943.


The Junkers Ju 188 was the epitome of mid-war German twin-engined aircraft design, representing the enhancement of an earlier type and incorporating increased performance and technological sophistication.

As part of the 1939 ‘Bomber B’ programme, it was intended as a replacement for the Ju 88 and He 111 medium bombers, taking advantage of uprated Jumo and BMW engines and incorporating a radically redesigned cockpit area with all-round visibility for high-speed bombing, torpedo-bomber carrying, FuG 200 radar, and camera-equipped reconnaissance operations.

What emerged, from the autumn of 1943, was a sophisticated bomber and reconnaissance aircraft-and intended nightfighter.

Actually as told by Robert Forsyth in his book Junkers Ju 188 Units of World War 2, a good Ju 188 gunner could make his mark even on a Mosquito, as happened over the English Channel, some 30 miles south of Dungeness, in Kent, on the night of Nov. 6–7, 1943.

Sqn Ldr John Selway and his navigator/radar operator Plt Off Norman Bamford of No 85 Sqn had taken off from West Malling on a patrol in a Mosquito at 2235 hrs. They had been vectored towards an ‘Fw 190’, which they had shot down in flames south of Hastings at 2355 hrs. They were then given a second vector on another ‘Bandit’ heading south about 20 miles away. The Mosquito closed to 6000 ft, but the enemy aircraft was so far below that Selway could not have descended sufficiently without overshooting, so he turned to starboard, then back to port.

Contact was regained on what was believed to have been a Ju 188 ‘travelling very fast and weaving at about 20,000 ft’. Selway closed to some 1000 ft, but with range decreasing very rapidly, so Bamford told his pilot to throttle back. At that moment a burst of fire from the Ju 188 hit Selway, inflicting a serious wound to his stomach, and he was unable to return fire. The pilot lost control and the Mosquito went into a dive, the engagement abandoned. Despite his wound, Selway managed to level the nightfighter off and land it back at West Malling, with his airspeed indicator and altimeter having been shot up as a result of a bullet entering the cockpit between the windscreen and the armour plate below it, which then smashed into the instrument panel. After landing, Selway walked into the crewroom unaided, and as Jimmy Rawnsley later wrote;

‘For a while he just stood there discussing the affair with the others in his usual light hearted fashion. He started to drink some tea, but fortunately “Rigor” Mortimer snatched the cup away from him, thereby possibly saving his life. When he started to undress, the onlookers were shocked to see that his clothes were liberally soaked in blood.’

Selway was immediately taken to hospital, where, in an emergency operation, the tip of a bullet from the Ju 188 was removed from his liver. He survived, but it was the end of his second tour.

Junkers Ju 188 Units of World War 2 is published by Osprey Publishing and is available to order here.

Photo credit: German Federal Archive and Royal Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  • RAF Mosquito was made of wood/plywood and known as the “Wooden Wonder.”

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