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Avro Lancaster

Specifications:
  • Crew: 7: pilot, flight engineer, navigator, bomb aimer, wireless operator, mid-upper and rear gunners
  • Length: 69 ft 5 in (21.18 m)
  • Wingspan: 102 ft (31.09 m)
  • Height: 19 ft 7 in (5.97 m)
  • Wing area: 1,300 ft² (120 m²)
  • Empty weight: 36 828 lb (16,705 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 63,000 lb (29,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4× Rolls-Royce Merlin XX V12 engines, 1,280 hp (954 kW) each
  • Maximum speed: 240 kn (280 mph, 450 km/h) at 15,000 ft (5,600 m)
  • Range: 2,700 nmi (3,000 mi, 4,600 km) with minimal bomb load
  • Service ceiling: 23,500 ft (8,160 m)
  • Wing loading: 48 lb/ft² (240 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.082 hp/lb (130 W/kg)
  • Armament Guns: 8× 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns in three turrets, with variations
  • Bombs: Maximum normal bomb load of 14,000 lb (6,300kg) or 22,000 lb Grand Slam with modifications to bomb bay.

For the last three years of the Second World War the Avro Lancaster was the major heavy bomber used by Bomber Command to take the war to the heart-land of Nazi Germany. With an impressive performance and excellent flying characteristics it soon established its superiority over other allied four-engined bombers operating in Europe.

The first RAF squadron to convert to the Lancaster was No. 44 Squadron RAF in early 1942. In 1942-45, Lancasters flew 156,000 operations and dropped 608,612 tons of bombs.

With an impressive performance and excellent flying characteristics it soon established its superiority over other allied four-engined bombers operating in Europe.

Avro Lancaster BI PA474
Avro Lancaster B.Mk.1 R5868-7325M
Avro Lancaster BI PA474

Avro Lancaster BI PA474

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 – she entered storage. With gun turrets removed it was assigned to Photographic Reconnaissance duties with 82 Squadron in East and South Africa.

On return from squadron service PA474 was loaned to Flight Refuelling Limited to be used as a pilotless drone. Flight Refuelling used an Avro Lincoln instead and PA474 was then transferred to the Royal College of Aeronautics to be used for trials on the Handley Page laminar flow wing. The test wings were mounted vertically above the rear fuselage.

In 1964 she came under the control of the Air Historical Branch for possible display in the proposed RAF Museum. During this time she appeared in two films: Operation Crossbow and The Guns of Navarone. Following a request from 44 Squadron the Lancaster moved to RAF Waddington for restoration back to wartime standard including fitting back the front and rear turrets.

PA474 was transferred to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 1973. In 1975 a mid-upper turret was found in Argentina and fitted. During the winter of 1995 the Lancaster was fitted with a new main spar to extend her flying life.

After completing a ‘major’ servicing at Duxford across the winter of 2016-17, PA474 is now painted on its port side as Lancaster BIII W5005, ‘AR-L’ “Leader” with nose art depicting a kangaroo in wellington boots playing the bagpipes, representing the mixed nationalities (Scottish, Australian and Welsh) of its crew at the time.