AVRO Lancasters Best RAF Strategic Bomber of World War Two

 

 

 

 

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AVRO Lancaster

photo above from the official  Royal Air Force history site which you can below. At the end of the post I have put the long description and details from their site.

http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/avrolancaster.cfm

“Born out of the failure that was the Manchester, the Lancaster has become the one bomber most associated with the RAF night offensive over Germany.” RAF

 

Avro_Lancasters_flying_in_loose_formation

Avro Lancasters of No. 50 Squadron (No. 5 Group), based at Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire, UK. These wartime aircraft carry the exhaust shrouds intended to conceal the exhaust flames from night fighters

Lancaster B Mark Is of No 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force, based at Skellingthorpe, flying in spread formation. The two aircraft beyond the wing tip are ‘VN-D’ and ‘VN-J’ the former, serial number JA899, was missing on the night of 24 – 25 June 1944 with Pilot Officer L G Peters and crew.

Official RAF photo Imperial War Museum

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A Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster I (s/n NG128, coded “SR-B”) of No. 101 Sqn out of Ludford Magna and flown by Fg Off R.B. Tibbs as part of a thousand-bomber raid, dropping its load over Duisburg, Germany, on 14-15 October 1944. Note the large aerials on top of the Lancaster´s fuselage, indicating that the aricraft is carrying ‘Airborne Cigar’ (ABC), a jamming device which disrupted enemy radio telephone channels. Over 2,000 sorties were dispatched to the city of Duisburg during 14-15 October 1944, in order to to demonstrate the RAF Bomber Command’s overwhelming superiority in German skies (“Operation Hurricane”). Left image: the Lancaster releases bundles of ‘Window’ over the target during a special daylight raid on Duisburg. Right image: a fraction of a second later, the aircraft releases the main part of its load, a 4000lb HC “cookie” and 108 30lb “J” incendiaries.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

Lancaster_B_MkI_44_Sqn_RAF_in_flight_1942

Three Avro Lancaster B.Is of No. 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force, based at Waddington, Lincolnshire (UK), flying above the clouds. Left to right: W4125,`KM-W’, being flown by Sergeant Colin Watt, Royal Australian Air Force; W4162,`KM-Y’, flown by Pilot Officer T.G. Hackney (later killed while serving with No. 83 Squadron); and W4187,`KM-S’, flown by Pilot Officer J.D.V.S. Stephens DFM, who was killed with his crew two nights later during a raid on Wismar.

Official RAF Photo IWM

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Sergeant H H Turkentine, the bomb aimer on board an Avro Lancaster B Mark I of No. 57 Squadron RAF, at his position in the nose of the aircraft. Sergeant Turkentine were killed with the rest of the crew of Lancaster R5894 ‘ DX-T’ (“T for Tommy”) when it collided with high tension cables near Scampton upon returning from a raid on Berlin in the early morning of 2 March 1943.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

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Flying Officer J B Burnside, the flight engineer on board an Avro Lancaster B Mark III of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, checks settings on the control panel from his seat in the cockpit.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

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Flight -Sergeant J Morgan, the rear gunner of an Avro Lancaster of No 630 Squadron RAF at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, checks his guns in the Nash & Thompson FN120 tail turret before taking off on a night raid on the marshalling yards at Juvisy-sur-Orge, France.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

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The bomb load used for industrial demolition (Bomber Command executive codeword ‘Abnormal’), loaded in the bomb-bay of an Avro Lancaster of No. 9 Squadron RAF at Bardney, Lincolnshire, before a night raid on Stettin, Germany. ‘Abnormal’ consisted of 14 x 1,000-lb MC high-explosive bombs.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

Lancaster in flight RAF history

Lancasters in flight

official RAF photograph  http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/avrolancaster.cfm

From the official history site of the Royal Air Force. The link appears above.

“When it became clear to Avro’s Chief Designer, Roy Chadwick, in 1938 that the new Rolls Royce Vulture engines intended for the Manchester were suffering from a lack of development, the company set about revising the design to include an additional pair of engines, preferably the well-proven Merlin. As a matter of fact, so dire was the Manchester situation that the Ministry of Aircraft production seriously considered scrapping the production line at the Avro factory at Newton Heath in Manchester after its contract for 200 Manchesters had been completed, and switch to the rival Handley Page design, the Halifax. Fortunately, the plan never came to fruition and Avro was allowed to continue development of the Manchester III (the name Lancaster had not yet been chosen).

In September 1940, a contract was signed with Avro for two prototype aircraft, the first of which was to fly within four months. To do this, Avro was to use as many existing Manchester components as possible to reduce cost and the timescale. Within a month, Avro had had prepared the requisite technical drawings for the Lancaster and things progressed smoothly with the first flight being made on 9 January 1941. The first aircraft was very much a hybrid design, and a more representative aircraft followed in May 1941. The second prototype had larger tail fins, a new undercarriage and improved Merlin engines and the true potential of the aircraft could now be tested. Test flying continued throughout the summer and the first production Lancaster I was flown on the last day of October 1941.

The first Lancaster squadron was No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, based at Waddington and commanded by Wing Commander RAB Learoyd VC and deliveries commenced on Christmas Eve 1941. Shortly after, No 97 Squadron traded in its Hampdens for Lancasters and both units commenced their operational work-up. By May 1942, No 44 Squadron was ready for operations and during the night of 10th/11th March 1942, a number of its aircraft took part in a raid on Essen.

Barely a month later, Lancasters from both Nos 44 and 97 Squadrons, had carried out a daring, low-level daylight attack on the MAN diesel engine factory at Augsburg, deep in Germany. A number of diversionary raids in northern France partially failed to draw enemy fighters away from the Lancaster’s route further south and as result four aircraft from the twelve involved were shot down before reaching the target. The remaining aircraft successfully attacked, with a number of direct hits being achieved, but three further aircraft failed to return. Only one aircraft of the six despatched from No 44 Squadron survived – that of Squadron Leader JD Nettleton, the squadron commander. For his leadership, Nettleton was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Throughout the remainder of 1942, the transition to Lancasters in Bomber Command was relatively slow, but the increase in the total tonnage of bombs in operations was increasing rapidly because of the ability of the Lancaster to carry bombs greater than the 4,000lb High Capacity (the only aircraft that could do so).

Lancaster bombers
One of the new Lancaster squadrons, No 106, was frequently chosen to carry out a number of high-risk attacks. It’s leader was Guy Penrose Gibson and early in 1943, Gibson was chosen to recruit the best Bomber Command pilots available to form a new, elite squadron in No 5 Group to perform one very daring attack. Gibson chose as many pilots as possible from his old squadron and made up the rest with many he had previously flown with who had since joined other squadrons.

The new recruits were told to report to Scampton but given no clue as to why they had been picked and what lay ahead for them. In the weeks that followed, the crews were ordered to carry out as much low flying as possible and an identity for the new squadron chosen – No 617. Finally, in May 1943 the reason for the enormous amount of low-level flying was revealed to the crews – three dams in the heart of the Ruhr that would, it was believed, bring the industrial reason to a halt if they could be breached. More information will appear elsewhere in the site about No 617 Squadron’s daring raid on the dams in May 1943, but suffice to say that no similar raid has ever been attempted since, and the success of the operation, despite the great bravery of the crews involved, failed to live up to expectations of the ‘boffins’ who had dreamt the plan up.

No 617 Squadron was not disbanded, and remained as part of No 5 Group for the remainder of the war for highly-specialised attacks, culminating in the use of the incredible 12,000lb ‘Tallboy’ and 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ attacks on the ever-elusive Tirpitz (which was finally sunk in late-1944) and the destruction of a number of important bridges in Germany during the final months of World War II.

Elsewhere in Bomber Command, the Lancaster continued on more mundane duties (including minelaying). The Battles of the Hamburg, theRuhr and Berlin in 1943 and early 1944, the famous attack on the V1 establishment at Peenemünde in August 1943 were some of the high points of the Lancaster’s service. At the other end of the scale, ovr 60 Lancasters alone were lost during the raid on Nuremberg in March 1944. Almost half of all Lancasters delivered during the war (3,345 out of 7,373) were lost on operations with the loss of over 21,000 crew members.

The basic Lancaster, the B.I was such an excellent airframe, that few changes were made to improve it. The B.II was a Bristol Hercules-powered variant built to counter possible supply problems with the Merlins; the B.III was powered by improved Merlins and, along with the B.I, the standard mount of many Lancaster squadrons. The final version built in significant numbers was the Mark X which was built under licence in Canada.

Of those 7,000+ aircraft built, only two airworthy examples exist as a tribute to the many thousands who lost their lives in Bomber Command; one with the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the second based in Canada.”

 

 

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/