The Avro Lancaster

Avro Lancaster B Mk.II DS816, JI-O of 'B' Flight. 514 Sqn was one of the few to be equipped from the outset with the Bristol Hercules-powered Mk.II Lanc. The variant was intended to solve the concern that a shortage of Rolls-Royce Merlin engine might hamper the suply of Lancasters in 1943 / 44. In the event, the shortage did not materialise and the surviving Mk.IIs were withdrawn in Autumn 1944, the final operational deployment being 23rd September 1944 to Neuss. Some 300 were produced. The Mk.II occasionally featured a ventral machine gun (not on DS816 however), as the variant was not fitted with H2S. Other features included the bulged bomb bay. The aircraft climbed more quickly than other variants, though not quite as high. It could carry a lower bomb weight but the Hercules engine, being air-cooled, was more resistant to damage than the Merlin. DS816 was one of the first aircraft to be assigned to 514 Sqn on its formation and took part in the Battle of Berlin. She failed to return from her 41st sortie, an operation against Valenciennes on 15/16th June 1944, being shot down at Croisilles, Pas de Calais. Only her navigator, P/O AH Morrison RAAF, survived. Image by Aviation Design Studio.

Avro Lancaster Mk.I PD265, JI-G. Mk.I and Mk. III Lancasters gradually replaced the Mk.II from June 1944 onwards. The first operational sortie by Mk. I Lancs were on 21st June 1944 to Domleger, having been beaten into 514 Sqn service by Mk.III PB143, JI-B, which attacked Montdidier on 17th June 1944. Whilst the Mk.I Lancaster was powered by Rolls-Royce Merlins, the Mk.III aircraft, whilst built in England, were powered by Packard Merlins, built in the USA under licence. The yellow stripes on the fin denote a G-H Leader aircraft. PD265 was lost on her 38th operation, shot down by flak on 21st November 1944 having just bombed the Rhein-Preussen synthetic oil plant at Homberg. Her pilot, F/O Geoff France, and Navigator, F/O Frederick Eisberg were the only survivors. Image by Aviation Design Studio.

BBMF Lancaster MkI PA474 overflies Brooklands Aerodrome, workplace of designer Sir Barnes Wallis, May 2013.  The flight was to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the legendary Dams Raid in 1943.  (c) Dani Maimone Photography.