In World War Two, the main British bomber was the Lancaster.

It had a crew of seven: pilot, flight engineer, navigator, bomb aimer, wireless operator, mid-upper gunner, tail gunner.

It had an average speed of around 245 mph.

It had four twelve-cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin engines.

It carried an average 4,000lb bomb load.

And it weighed a massive sixteen tons when empty.

It was a slow moving, heavy bomber.

Slow moving because of the weight and the need for so much defensive armour.

The thinking was that that the more defensive armour they put on the bomber, the better the chance it would survive an attack.

So the Lancaster had eight machine guns manned by three gunners.

The Americans took this view even further.

Their main bomber was the B17 ‘Flying Fortress’.

It had a crew of ten: pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, radio operator, top turret gunner, ball turret gunner, left-waist gunner, right-waist gunner, tail gunner.

It had 13 machine guns, and it also weighed a massive 16 tons.

The British and American theory was, the more guns a bomber had the more chance of survival it had.

But Geoffrey de Havilland had a different idea.

You needed a lot of guns for when the enemy attacked you, but what if the enemy couldn’t catch you?

What if the bomber was too fast for German fighter planes?

Everyone thought it was ridiculous idea of course.

German fighters were over 100mph faster than any allied bomber.

This was Geoffrey de Havilland’s moment of creative genius.

If he got rid of everything that made a bomber capable of defending itself, he could make it extremely light.

So light it wouldn’t need to defend itself.

So, instead of adding more and more things to defend it, he stripped more and more things away.

And he designed the de Havilland Mosquito.

Unlike the heavy metal bombers it was made completely of wood.

It had two engines instead of four because it was half the size.

He got rid of all the guns, so he didn’t need any gunners.

The Mosquito could carry a 4,000lb bomb load like the bigger bombers.

But it only needed a crew of two.

Geoffrey de Havilland kept taking more and more things away.

Until the Mosquito weighed just 7 tons.

Nearly ten tons lighter, less than half the weight, of the bigger bombers.

So it could fly at nearly 400 mph like a fighter, faster than a Spitfire.

German fighters couldn’t catch it.

British bomber crews loved it because their survival rate was many times greater than in the bigger slower-moving bombers.

All because Geoffrey de Havilland realised the power of strategy.

Strategy is not about adding more and more stuff.

Strategy is about taking stuff away.

Taking away everything, until there’s only one thing left.

One single powerful thought.

One thought that’s leaner and more efficient than the competition.

That’s what strategy should be.


That’s why David Ogilvy said “Strategy is sacrifice.”