The aircraft for today is the Avro Lancaster which was a four-engine heavy bomber serving eh British Royal Air Force during World War II. The aircraft was designed and produced as the contemporary of Handley Page Halifax by Avro. Both of these bombers at the time had nearly the same specs and were approved at the same time by the RAF for service.
The origin for the Avro Lancaster came from the previously built Avro Manchester that was developed by Avro back in the 1930s as a medium bomber. The aircraft design for Avro Lancaster was built upon the upgrades of the Avro Manchester by the famed aeronautical engineer named Roy Chadwick and was powered by the Roll Royce Merlin engines. The first time the Avro Lancaster flew for RAF was during 1942 as the RAF’s strategic bomber over the skies of Europe. However, the RAF was quick to realize the capabilities of the Avro Lancaster as the nighttime bomber. Seeing the increased use of the Avro Lancaster, other than RAF other countries also started ordering the Avro Lancaster in place of the Stirling and Halifax bombers.
Then in 1943, the role for the Avro Lancaster was changed from that of a bomber to be a jet engine testbed aircraft for building turbojet engines. For a brief period of time, Avro Lancaster also served the role of the Navy’s bomber as well as the role of submarine patrol aircraft and was also used as the aerial mapping and photo-reconnaissance aircraft. In it later das, the Avro Lancaster was limited to the use of being an aerial refueling tanker.
Born Out of a Failure:-
The Avro Lancaster holds the title of being one of the most important bombers of World War II to serve the RAF but what is most interesting is that this aircraft was born out of a failure. The aircraft in question that led to the creation of the Avro Lancaster was Avro Manchester which was the twin-engine medium grade bomber built back in July of 1939. The aircraft as hampered in its service due to its two-engine design and only 202 of these Manchester bombers were created.
The engineers of the Avro learned from the mistakes of Manchester and developed a four-engine design for a heavy bomber along with a revised set of wings. The key difference in this new aircraft was the presence of the Rolls Royce Merlin engines of the X series.
First Flight and induction into RAF:-
The very first prototype of the Avro Lancaster was ready for its test flight at the start of 1941 and took it to the skies on 9th January of that very same year. World War II was in full swing at that time and this Avro Lancaster prototype was then sent for fast evaluation to the Boscombe Down and got the approval for mass production. In October of 1941, the aircraft was serving in the RAF as their active heavy bomber with bombing runs on the European theater of war.
Suffered briefly from lack of Merlin Engines:-
The Avro Lancaster was so widely needed by the RAF in the war that it actually suffered from production delays like having a shortage of the Merlin X series engines. In order to counter this problem, Avro came up with an idea to install the Bristol Hercules VI/XVI piston engines in the newly produced Avro Lancasters. After that, the engine shortage was resolved and also saw many improvements and many upcoming models of the Avro Lancaster were fitted with Merlin engines of XX, 22 and 24 series.
Proved its mettle as a Nighttime Bomber:-
Early on in the RAF, Avro Lancaster started its role as the heavy bomber for the day time raids. However, it was needed to be escorted by a whole fleet of the fighter aircraft to perform its missions and often suffered devastating losses. One such instance was when the formation of 12 Avro Lancaster aircraft managed to destroy a German target led in Augsburg but also lost 7 of these aircraft in the crossfire.
This and many other incidents led to the Bomber Command to force this aircraft to took on the mantle of the nighttime heavy bomber and it was the right call to do so. The Avro Lancaster was able to showcase its true mettle during the night-time bombing raids. As for the few daytime bombing raids, these Avro Lancaster formations were escorted by their fighter group.
Sinking a German Battleship:-
The one major wartime achievement credited tot eh Avro Lancaster was when a formation of these Avro Lancasters sunk a battleship of the German named KMS Tirpitz on 12th November 1944. Two of the Avro Lancaster formations engaged the battleship as they carried the special bombs with designation “tallboy” weighing about 12000 lbs which were built to destroy the armored targets. This battleship was a major loss to the German navy that was already losing in the sea-based warfare.
Total number of sorties Avro Lancaster participated in:-
A total of 59 bomber command squadrons were formed of Avro Lancaster bombers which carried out a little over 156000 sorties for bombing raids during the course of the entire World War II. During these sorties, the Avro Lancasters dropped nearly 6811600 tons of bombing ordnance.
During the World War II era, the Avro Lancaster was only operated by Britain’s Royal Air Force as one of their primary heavy bombers. However, following the end of the war, other nations also saw the potential of this bomber which performed exceptional service during war times. Other nations to get their own fleets of Avro Lancaster were as follows.
- The Soviet Union on the lend/lease basis
Powerplant and pother specs:-
One single Avro Lancaster in all its variant forms was powered by 4 of the Rolls Royce Merlin XX V12 water-cooled and inline piston engines. These engines were able to propel this heavy bomber for a top speed of 287 mph for a maximum range of 25299 miles while being at a ceiling of 24508 feet.
The standard armament configuration for an Avro Lancaster included the following.
- 2 Browning machine guns of 0.303 calibers fixed on the nose turret
- 2 Browning machine guns of 0.303 calibers on the dorsal turret
- 4 Browning machine guns of 0.303 calibers in the tail turret
The aircraft had internal ordnance carrying capacity of 4000 to 22000 lbs for the conventional drop bombs. In the case of special missions, the aircraft was used to deliver bombing payload of the following bombs.
- Grand Slam of 22000 lbs
- Tallboy of 12000 lbs
- Upkeep of 9250 lbs
Over the course of its entire service wit various world nations, nearly 7377 Avro Lancasters were manufactured and the last of them retired back in 1963 from Canada.