Avro 683 Lancaster


The Avro Lancaster was a development of the unsatisfactory twin-engine Manchester. The prototype first flew on 9 January 1941, and subsequently the production Lancaster was first deployed in 1942 with 44 RAF squadron, and became the most used British heavy bomber of WWII, flying over 156,000 missions.

The Lancaster had a rectangular fuselage, mid-set wing and twin tail fins and rudders, and a Martin upper turret with two 50-calibre guns. It was able to carry very heavy bombs and bulky 'special' weapons; with modifications to the bomb-bay even 10,000kg bombs were carried. Only a few aircraft were capable of carrying the 12,000lb "Tallboy" and the 22,000lb "Grand Slam" bombs.

Maritime patrol versions of the Lancaster had no top turret, and only the front turret was armed with two .303-calibre machine guns. By the end of production 7,378 Lancaster had been built, including 430 in Canada.


A Lancaster of 44 RAF Squadron taxying at RAF Waddington in September 1942 (IWM neg PMA20625)

Fleet Air Arm history
    Total FAA 1939-1945:        3
    First delivered to RN:          780 sqdn 1945
    First squadron 1939-1945:   1945
    Operational squadron:          None
    Last served with RN            Postwar till 1947

The Lancaster only saw limited use in the Fleet Air Arm. Three Lancaster MkIs were transferred from the RAF in 1945. The first Lancaster to be delivered, PA224, arrived at the RNDA in November 1945.  The Lancaster only saw service with 780 squadron at Hinstock, where it was first delivered to the squadron in 1946.

The Lancaster last operated with the Fleet Air Arm in 1947 with 10 MU. The Lancaster was also to see limited service in overseas Naval Air Arms, the French Fleet Air Arm (Aeronavale) being equipped with the Lancaster in 1952 (Escadrilles: 9S, 52S,
55S, 58S, 62S).

Lancaster Mk I
Aircraft Type:
Avro 683 Lancaster
Mk I
Primary Role:
Heavy bomber
First Flight:
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Four 1610 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin XXIV engines
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan 102 ft (31.1 m) 
Length 69.25 ft (21.1 m)
Height 19.6 ft (5.97 m) 
Wingarea 1,292 sq ft (120 sq m)
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
empty 36,828 lb (16,705 kg) 
max.70,000 lb (31,750 kg)



max.287 mph (462 km/h)
cruising  210 mph (338 km/h) 
Ceiling  24,500 ft  (7,470 m) 
Range1,662 mi (2,675 km)
Ten 7.7mm machine gun
Up to 9,980 kg bombs
(pilot, flight engineer, navigator, bomb aimer, radio operator and two gunners
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History

The Lancaster saw no operational service with the Fleet Air Arm, however in its RAF career the Lancasters flew over 156,000 missions, and was acknowledged with many battle honours including the final sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz in November 1944, following the successful crippling of the ship by the Fleet Air Arm in April 1944.

The RAF Lancasters also participated in many World War II missions, including the  "Dam Buster" raids that led to the destruction of the strategically important Mohne, Eder, and Sorpe dams. Lancasters also were instrumental during attacks on the Peenemunde aircraft and rocket research facility.

Surviving aircraft and relics
The World population of surviving Lancasters currently totals 23, including only two airworthy Lancasters PA474, and FM213 and a taxying Lancaster NX611.

No Fleet Air Arm Lancasters survive however a few survive from the French Fleet Air Arm. Three French Fleet Air Arm Lancasters survive from their service in France in 1952:

Lancaster NX665 preserved at Western Spring (New Zealand)
Lancaster NX622 preserved on public display in Perth (Australia)
Lancaster NX611 preserved at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre (UK)

Lancaster NX611 ex French Aeronavale preserved in the Lincolnshie Avaition Heritage Centre (UK)

Lancaster NX611 ex French Aeronavale (Escadrilles: 9S, 52S, 55S). Fully restored to taxiing condition and on public display at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, England.

LancasterNX665 ex French Aeronavale preserved at West Spring, New Zealand

Lancaster NX665 (ex WU-13) ex French Aeronavale - Escardille: 9S, 62S, 55S, 58S  On public display at Western Spring, New Zealand.

Lancaster W4783 preserved at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia
Australian War Memorial, Canberra (Australia), presrerved Lancaster W4783 "G" for George.

Airworthy Lancaster PA474: Battle of Britain Memorial Flight of the RAF (UK) in the livery of a Lancaster
from 9 RAF squadron which took part in the first RAF Tirpitz raid.
Battle of Britian Memorial Flight Lancaster PA474, one of two airworthy Lancasters in the world. She was built in Chester in mid 1945 and was earmarked for the "Tiger Force" in the Far East. However, the war with Japan ended before she could take part in any hostilities. She was then assigned to Photographic Reconnaissance duties with 82 RAF Squadron in East and South Africa. On return to the UK PA474 was transferred to the Royal College of Aeronautics. In 1964 she was adopted by the Air Historical Branch (AHB) for future display in the proposed RAF Museum at Hendon. During this period PA474 also took part in 2 films, 'Operation Crossbow' and 'The Guns of Navarone'. In 1965 the Lnacaster was transferred to the care of the first RAF squadron (44 sqduadron) to be equipped with Lancasters back in 1942. Based at Waddington, permission to fly PA474 regularly was granted in 1967 and in 1973 the aircraft eventually joined the BBMF in November 1973. Connections with the Royal Navy included when a mid-upper turret was discovered in Argentina and was brought to Britain aboard HMS HAMPSHIRE and fitted to PA474 in 1975. From 1994 to 1999 PA474 was seen wearing the markings of W4964,'WS-J', Johnnie Walker, an aircraft of IX Squadron. This aircraft took part in the first attack on the Tirpitz from Russia and flew over one hundred operational sorties. PA474 appears in new livery for 2000, representing 61 Sqn Lancaster 'Mickey the Moocher'.
Associations and reunions
Battle of Britian Memorial Flight Aircraft, crew, displays, history, association, visitors centre
Details and history of the Lancaster by the Nanton Lancaster Museum  Details on the Lancaster Bomber, The Lancaster And Bomber Command (11 Articles), Lancasters After The War, The Canadian Lancasters, Lancaster FM-159, The World's Surviving Lancasters 
Warbird Alley Warbird Alley, an online reference source for information about privately-owned, ex-military aircraft. Includes details and specs and a summary total of airworthy aircraft including the Lancaster
Aviation History online Museum and the Lancaster  Details and technical specifications
  Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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