A Messerschmitt 110 night fighter has been unfortunate to cross swords with a Mosquito night intruder over Germany during the closing years of World War II. The German aircraft had just taken off from its base when it was gunned down into a railroad siding. As German railguards assist the hapless pilot from his seat, the victorious Mosquito makes a low pass.
Night time aerial warfare in the European theater was not as obvious to the ground observer as daylight combat. Massive bomber attacks with their attendant contrails could be seen for miles. At best, night aircraft would be heard streaking across the dark void.
Night combat posed different sets of skills and threats unknown to daylight aircrews. The Allied pilots and navigators intruding into enemy airspace in darkness faced the Luftwaffe Me110's, Ju-88's and FW190's. These enemy aircraft were tasked with seeking out marauding enemy planes and disposing of them and their crews who were intent on completing their assigned interdiction, mapping and bombing missions. But not all night combat ended in the favor of the Luftwaffe. When shot down behind their own lines, those Germans who survived uninjured would have only wounded pride, the necessary paper reports to complete, and the ride back to the geschwader to fight another day.
In Robert Bailey's painting, DELAYED DEPARTURE, a Me110 has just left its base, but by unfortunate chance has met a Mosquito in the night sky. The crew of the downed aircraft are assisted out by German rail guards. Meanwhile, the victorious Mossie crew decide to make a low passin order to observe their victory, startling those on the ground. Because of the hissing steam coming from the locomotive, those passengers on the platform are oblivious to the action. This time, the German night fighter crew have been very lucky indeed.