4 Engine Lancaster of Royal Air Force Bomber Command

The Avro Lancaster four engine strategic bomber began to reach RAF Bomber Command Squadrons in the early winter of 1942. After horrifying losses of their slow and under-powered pre-war bombers, Bomber Command ceased to bomb during the day and turned to night bombing. And the “Lanc” was the state of the art in night bombing.

 

Copyright-RHPaver
Copyright-RHPaver

PA474 is one of only two Lancaster aircraft remaining in airworthy condition out of the 7,377 that were built (the other is in Canada with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at Hamilton, Ontario). PA474 rolled off the production line at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory at Hawarden Airfield, Chester on 31 May 1945, just after the war in Europe came to an end, so she was prepared for use against the Japanese as part of the ‘Tiger Force’. However, the war in the Far East also ended before she was deployed and she did not take part in any hostilities.

(photo and caption courtesy of http://www.raf.mod.uk/bbmf/theaircraft/lancasterpa474.cfm. Photo copyrighted by RH Paver.)

raf.mod.uk/Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster

The following is courtesy of the RAF/Ministry of Defense Battle of Britain Memorial Site

 

“The Avro Lancaster is the most famous and successful RAF heavy bomber of World War Two. It is a legend that lives on today and the contribution made by the aircraft and its crews to the freedom of our nation will, hopefully, never be forgotten. The prototype Lancaster took to the air for its first flight from Woodford, Manchester, on 9th January 1941; the first production Lancaster flew later that year on 31st October.”

 

Lancaster_bomb_bay_Jan_1944_IWM_CH_18554

IWM caption : 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.

(continued from Mod/RAF site:)   The Lancaster WWII The first RAF unit to receive the new aircraft for operations (on Christmas Eve 1941) was No 44 Squadron at Waddington, quickly followed by 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa. The performance of the Lancaster was simply outstanding. It could carry a maximum bomb load of 22,000 lb, its maximum level speed with a full load at 15,000 feet was 275 mph and it could cruise routinely at altitudes above 20,000ft at a range speed of 200 mph. With a full bomb load the aircraft had a range in excess of 1,500 miles. The Lancaster’s performance, its ruggedness, reliability and to many its sheer charisma, endeared it to its crews who were proud to fly this famous thoroughbred.

An impressive total of 7,377 Lancasters were built between 1941 and early 1946. Of these, some 3,500 were lost on operations and another 200 or so were destroyed or written off in crashes. The vast majority of those Lancasters that did survive the war were simply scrapped when their services were no longer required, as the reverence in which the aircraft is now held had yet to develop to the point where their preservation seemed important.

The Lancaster did not carry the weight of the night bombing offensive against Nazi Germany on its own but was supported by other earlier twin-engine bombers such as the Wellington and the other four-engine RAF heavy bombers – the Stirling and the Halifax – as well as medium bomber versions of the twin-engine De Havilland Mosquito.

Lest we forget the price paid in blood and sorrow to defeat the Third Reich:

In total some 125,000 aircrew served in Bomber Command during World War Two; over 73,700 of them became casualties, either killed, wounded or shot down and made PoWs.”

 

Lancaster_I_NG128_Dropping_Load_-_Duisburg_-_Oct_14_-_1944

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.(TI).

Photos and caption courtsey of Imperial War Musuem

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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/