The Lancaster PA474 was built as a B Mk 1 (B1) by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd at its Broughton factory near Chester in 1945 and was to be part of the British Tiger Force for strategic bombing in the Far East.
Following the end of the war with Japan the aircraft was not needed and PA474 entered storage.
With gun turrets removed it was assigned to Photographic Reconnaissance duties with 82 Squadron in East and South Africa.
PA474 is one of only two Lancasters in flying condition in the world, the other being owned and flown by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
The Development of Lancaster
The Manchester Bomber was a British twin-engine heavy bomber developed and manufactured by the Avro aircraft company in the United Kingdom. While not being built in great numbers, it was the forerunner of the famed and vastly more successful four-engined Avro Lancaster, which would become one of the most capable strategic bombers of the Second World War.
The Manchester Bomber
Avro designed the Manchester in conformance with the requirements laid out by the British Air Ministry Specification P.13/36, which sought a capable medium bomber with which to equip the Royal Air Force (RAF) and to replace its inventory of twin-engine bombers, such as the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, Handley Page Hampden and Vickers Wellington. Performing its maiden flight on 25 July 1939, the Manchester entered squadron service in November 1940, just over twelve months after the outbreak of the war.
The Manchester came to be regarded as an operational failure, primarily as a result of its Rolls-Royce Vulture engines, which were underdeveloped and hence underpowered and unreliable, and production was terminated in 1941. However, the Manchester was redesigned into a four-engined heavy bomber, powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine instead, which became known as the Lancaster.
The Lancaster Bomber
The Lancaster was designed by Roy Chadwick and powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlins and in one of the versions, Bristol Hercules engines. It first saw service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942 and as the strategic bombing offensive over Europe gathered momentum, it was the main aircraft for the night-time bombing campaigns that followed. As increasing numbers of the type were produced, it became the principal heavy bomber used by the RAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and squadrons from other Commonwealth and European countries serving within the RAF, overshadowing the Halifax and Stirling, two other commonly used bombers
Although the Lancaster was primarily a night bomber, it excelled in many other roles, including daylight precision bombing, for which some Lancasters were adapted to carry the 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) Tallboy and then the 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam earthquake bombs (also designed by Wallis). This was the largest payload of any bomber in the war.
Time for an Upgrade
The Lancaster B.II had Bristol Hercules engines instead of the Rolls-Royce standard, of which 300 were produced by Armstrong Whitworth. One difference between the two engine versions was that the VI had manual mixture control, requiring an extra lever on the throttle pedestal. Very early examples were fitted with an FN.64 ventral turret; however, these were quickly removed due to problems with aiming the turret through its periscope (which prevented the gunner from seeing a target he was not already aiming at), and inadequate traverse speed.
The Bouncing Bomb
The versatility of the Lancaster was such that it was chosen to equip 617 Squadron and was modified to carry the Upkeep "bouncing bomb" designed by Barnes Wallis for Operation Chastise, the attack on German Ruhr valley dams.