Douglas Havoc I (Intruder)

The Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) was designed to operate as a night time intruder over occupied Europe, and was produced by modifying late production French DB-7s. These aircraft, originally given the designation Boston II, had arrived in Britain after the fall of France. The RAF soon realised that they were not useable daylight bombers, the role in which the British ordered DB-7B/ Boston III was expected to operate, but their two-speed supercharged engines made them superior to the early production DB-7s that were being used as training aircraft under the designation Boston I.

It was decided to use the Boston IIs as night fighters and intruders, with the new name of Havoc. While the night fighter version quickly settled down as the Havoc I (Night Fighter), the intruder was given a series of names, including Ranger, Moonfighter and Havoc IV before becoming the Havoc I (Intruder).

Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) of No.23 Squadron
Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) of No.23 Squadron

The Havoc I (Intruder) required far fewer modifications than the night fighter. Most of the work simply involved replacing French equipment with its British equivalents. Like the DB-7 it carried four forward firing fixed machine guns, although the French 0.30in guns were replaced with standard British 0.303in guns. The dorsal gun was also retained but the ventral gun was removed. British bomb racks were installed, giving the Havoc I (Intruder) the capacity to carry 2,000lb of bombs, although the standard bomb load was only 1,000lb. The main modification needed for night time operations was the use of flame damping engine exhausts to make the aircraft less visible.

The Havoc I (Intruder) entered service with No.23 Squadron, which operated it from March 1941 until August 1942. The Havocs flew at low level across northern France, Belgium and Holland, attacking German airfields and communications. The Havocs were supplemented by the Boston III (Intruder) in July 1942, and were then used by No.605 Squadron, only finally going out of use in October 1942.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 September 2008), Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) ,

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