By the mid-1930s the initial strategy of the British was to develop a multirole twin-engined medium bomber. This solution required very powerful engines that at the time we're hard to produce and maintain. Following the footsteps of both the Americans and the Soviets, they instead started development on a larger, heavier airframe with four smaller, but readily available, engines that could still guarantee excellent range and airlifting capability. Initially still called Manchester from the previous twin-engine endeavour, by January 1941 the second prototype was renamed the Lancaster. Its first flight was a huge success, having later seen improvement by the use of a new elliptical twin-finned tail, greatly increasing stability and field of fire for the dorsal gun over the Manchester's three-fin design.
The Lancaster had a very tough and durable airframe. It gained a reputation for consistently being able to fly the return journey on only two engines, and even on a single engine for short distances. The standard crew consisted of seven men. The pilot, the flight engineer (there were no controls on the other cockpit seat, so there was no co-pilot), the bomb aimer (who doubled as an operator for the nose turret gun as needed), the navigator, the wireless operator for comms, the 360° mid-upper gun turret operator, and finally the rear gunner. The initial underside turret was quickly dropped, considered pointless for being too slow and hard to operate in order to keep a target within its sights.
It first saw service with the RAF Bomber Command in 1942 and soon became the main aircraft for the night-time bombing campaigns that followed. It was also a delivery system for the largest payload of any bomber of its time, the 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam earthquake bombs. By the end of the war in Europe, the 'Lanc' had conducted 156,000 sorties being operated in almost every major bombing raid of the European conflict. It became known as the RAF's 'shining sword' and was called by a commander of the Luftwaffe "the best night bomber of the war". The most successful survivor of the fleet flew 139 missions, but around half of the more than 7000 built were lost and never made it past a few missions.
After World War II the Lancaster took on the role of long-range patrol and air-sea rescue aircraft. It was also used for photo-reconnaissance and aerial mapping, as a flying tanker for aerial refuelling and as the Avro Lancastrian, a long-range, high-speed, transatlantic passenger and postal delivery airliner.
Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611 Just Jane is currently in the final stages of restoration to airworthy condition with the Lincoln Aviation Heritage Center and can be visited at former RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire.
"The achievements of the Lancaster and the men who flew it have been widely acclaimed, and the aircraft has been described as the greatest single factor in winning WWII, an exaggeration but a pardonable one". - Goulding and Garbett, 1966
80% Combed Cotton, 17% Polyamide, 3% Elastane. We use seamless knitting to create a sock with no stitches.
Wash inside out (40ºC/100ºF max). Do not tumble dry, iron, bleach or dry clean.
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