The Avro Lancaster.

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

As is quite often with my blog, several things have conspired over the last week or so, to make a post on a second world war bomber seem like an appropriate way for me to spend a couple of hours: a chance visit to a model shop in Holborn, a TV programme about Second World War airplanes, catching the end of the Dam Busters film on Saturday afternoon and a visit to the Imperial War museum to look at some paintings I’d read about last Friday, all suggest that this is the post to write.

When I was younger I loved aircraft and like many kids in the 1970’s, spent hours making Airfix models. I must have had twenty or thirty of them at one time or another all hanging on bits of dusty cotton from my bedroom ceiling.

I always liked the big planes best, The Rockwell International B1, Concorde, The Vulcan Bomber and of course The Avro Lancaster. Big planes were always more fun to build than little single seater fighters, and there was more plastic to paint in intricate camouflage patterns once they were finished.

The Lancaster was possibly the most famous and successful of all the large second world war planes. It first saw active service in 1942 having been developed specifically for nighttime operations, and in all over 7000 of these all metal monsters were produced.

Possibly most famous for being the planes that carried Barnes Wallis’s  bouncing bomb’s to such success at the dams in the Ruhr Valley in Operation Chastise in May 1943, the Lancaster was also instrumental in many other missions including the infamous Operation Gomorrah in which over an 8 day period at the end of July 1942, Hamburg was engulfed in firestorms during the heaviest aerial bombing of the entire war, all part of Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris’s controversial aerial bombing tactics.

The Lancaster was designed by Avro’s Chief Designer, Roy Chadwick and was reputedly one of the very few warplanes in history that was ‘right’ from the outset. It had a crew of seven (Pilot, Flight Engineer, Navigator, Bomb Aimer, Wireless Operator, Upper and Rear Gunners) and was powered by four Rolls Royce Merlin engines which made a very distinctive sound, a sound I can just about remember from visiting air shows with my father as a kid. The double tail fin and the perspex nose and tail housings were equally distinctive and made the Lancaster instantly recognisable from the ground.

At the Imperial War Museum they have the front end of one of these wonderful planes on display and I had forgotten how big they were, to fly in one must indeed have been an unforgettable experience.

Having just written all this about bombing and war, I would like to say for the record that I do not consider myself a “war-head” in any way. So whilst I accept that war planes are designed to kill people, the driver for this post was more about coincidence, childhood and the wonder of large planes in general, rather than glorifying war.

  1. March 16, 2011 at 06:35

    i want to get one

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