The Lincolnshire's Lancaster Association is a Registered Charity that holds a unique position as the support Group for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The Association was formed from the Lincolnshire Lancaster Committee, which was a small group of people who came together when the Lancaster was moved from RAF Waddington to RAF Coltishall in 1973. The original aims of the Committee were to ensure that the Bomber would return to Lincolnshire and that a Lancaster would remain in the county for ever as a memorial to the many aircrew who lost their lives whilst based here during World War II.
At that time 'S for Sugar' R5868 which had stood as RAF Scampton's gate guardian, had been relocated to the Bomber Command Museum which was under construction at Hendon. PA474 had been taken to RAF Coltishall from RAF Waddington, leaving Lincolnshire and the East Midlands without a Lancaster. The Committee requested that when PA474 was due to retire that she should be brought back to Lincolnshire. The projected flying life span in the 1970's was not expected to last more than 5 years! Today there is talk that the flying life of the Lancaster could be another 50 years! A request was also made that the Lincoln City Coat of Arms be placed on the nose of the Bomber to identify the link between the county and the area.
The Committee was successful, not only was PA474 returned to the county, but its operating unit (BBMF) was transferred to RAF Coningsby. The Lancaster was officially adopted by The City of Lincoln a few years later.
Following a request from the RAF to help produce the hardware that made the fitting of the mid-upper turret possible, it was decided to change the name of the Committee and invite public membership. Registered Charity status was achieved, and today the Association with nearly 6000 members worldwide, continues to give invaluable support to the Flight.
Bringing Spitfire TE311 to Life!
In March of this year Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVIe TE311 emerged from the RAF Coningsby paint shop with her long-awaited new paint scheme representing 131 (Polish) Wing and pilot Aleksander Gabszewicz.
Formed in April 1941 from two Polish Squadrons (302 and 303 Squadron RAF respectively) the Wing was known as the 1st Polish Fighter Wing and was headed up by Commanding Officer Group Captain Aleksander Gabszewicz VM KW DSO DFC (6th December 1911 – 10th October 1983). Gabszewicz originally served as a Non Commissioned Officer in the Polish Army before the outbreak of World War Two and in 1938 was attached to the air wing of the Border Defence Corps. He is regarded by some as downing the first German Aircraft of the Second World War, a Heinkel He 111 over Ciechanow. As the war progressed Gabszewicz made it to the UK where he served in the ranks of 607 Squadron RAF and 303 Polish Squadron RAF and was later posted as Flight Commander in 316 Polish Squadron where he became the Commanding Officer in June of 1943. With further postings to 11 Group HQ and later as an instructor with 50 OTU he was made Wing Commander in of the 2nd Polish Wing and finally the 1st Polish Wing. He was also appointed as the Commanding Officer of RAF Coltishall in the UK in February of 1945 which as many of you know was also one one of the previous homes of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Gabszewicz aircraft features a boxing bulldog. Much has been made of the 'boxing bull dog' with some sources saying it was created by one of Gabszewicz's Ground Crew, Sgt Wojciech Milewski who was also a boxer. However, there are also sources which claim that the nose art was part of a series of insignias designed by Disney as part of the US war effort. Whatever the source of the nose art, we think you will agree that the aircraft in its new scheme is a fitting tribute to the many Polish Fighter Pilots of the Second World War.
Over the past years we have helped the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight financially many times.
In the very early days the Lancaster did not have a mid-upper turret fitted. The turret had been found in Argentina and had arrived in the UK but funds had not been available to manufacture the deflection cam which had to be fitted before the turret could be put into place. The deflection cam can be seen on the aircraft, it fits round the bottom of the mid-upper turret. When the turret rotates, small rollers below the guns lift them at the right moments to stop the gunner shooting into the back of the cockpit or into the rudders.
The word came from HQ Strike Command engineering asking, would we like to undertake this work, which also relied on us to finance the job. We said yes, arranged the production of a postal cover, which we hope would cover the cost, found an engineering firm to do the work, and from plans supplied by the RAF the work was done - paid for by the money we had raised from the sales of the covers.
In a few words this sounds very easy, but the job took about 2 years and generated hundreds of hours of work for the few of us who were involved at the time. When the cam was eventually put into place on the bomber it was such a good fit that one could not get ones fingers underneath it to lift it off. A marvellous achievement by the engineers who worked only from the plans, the fuselage tapering to the tail and curving down at each side from the centre line.
It was only found in 1999 that the wrong drawings had been given to us, and a new one was made as part of the Lancaster’s major service undertaken during the winter of 1999/2000 - but this time not at our expense.
Through our growing public image we were able to help by locating spare parts which were still lying around with various bits and pieces coming from farmyards and garden sheds. We were able to secure engine spares and tyres on the commercial market. In the early days we supplied a fax machine for the office. GPS electronic satellite navigation equipment has been purchased for the Lancaster and Dakota, and both have now been up-dated with the latest types as technology has moved on.
As the years have moved on we have become involved in more expensive projects. We had dummy cannons made for one of the Hurricanes, which gave it a completely new image. During the following season we were asked where the new Hurricane had come from, and the pilots had to get used to the barrels sticking out of the wings - no accidents were reported!
Many parts, which cannot be seen, were made which have been fitted into the Lancaster; the biggest being the ammunition tracking that fits inside the rear fuselage and supplied ammunition to the rear turret from a point below the mid-upper. This took a year to make and complete with blank rounds can just be seen inside the aircraft when the door is open.
Up to the end of 2000 the most expensive job has been the transfer of all of the manuals and associated information onto CD ROM. All the manuals date back to the war years and with constant use have deteriorated badly. The large fold -out diagrams being badly affected where they fold. They are all historic documents and should be in an archive not in every day use. It took almost 2 years to do the necessary work. The documents, which had almost filled a large room, were reduced down to about 12 CD ROMS, which do not fill a shoebox. We also supplied the necessary PC and a special printer.
With the introduction of this system it now means that any information that is needed can be found in seconds. Under the old method it could easily take half a day going through book after book to find whatever was needed - today it takes seconds. The necessary page can be printed out for use in the hangar without the worry of damaging it beyond future use. This system alone has cost us just under £44,000, but it has proved invaluable to the Flight. The time it saves during a year is estimated to be equivalent to giving then almost two extra engineers. We have only being able to finance this work with the help, and generosity of our members. We have received bequests and donations, which along with the money raised from souvenir sales, have made all of this possible.
Code of Conduct
The Associations list of codes from the official code of conduct written which applies to all members and volunteers.
No member shall commit any act which would bring disrepute to the Association in any way.
No member should attempt to gain access to parts of airfields or premises without the express permission of the owner or administrator of such property.
No member shall enter or interfere with any aircraft without the knowledge and permission of the owner.
No member should purport to be acting on behalf of the Association without the express authority of the Committee or its delegated member responsible for any field of responsibility.
No member should acquire or disseminate information which he knows is subject to military or industrial security restrictions.
No member should commit any act in any country which would contravene the laws of that country or bring into jeopardy any members of the Association resident therein.
No member should pass any information about the administration of the Association which could be of commercial value to other bodies to the detriment of the Association.
No member should use the facilities of the Association on behalf of non-members.