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British Avro Lancaster Heavy Bomber

Updated on March 23, 2016

Avro Lancaster

The Avro Lancaster was a four engine, heavy bomber used by the RAF in World War II. Introduced in 1942 and nicknamed "Lanc", the Avro Lancaster became one of the most accomplished heavy bombers of WWII. The Lancaster ultimately flew approximately 156,000 missions and dropped over 608,000 tons of bombs.

It was the Lancasters that dropped the 12,000 lb Tallboy bomb and the 22,000 Grand Slam bombs. The Lancasters were also the aircraft that destroyed German dams by using "bouncing bombs" developed by Barnes Wallis.

Bouncing bombs were barrel, or drum shaped bombs that were "spun" at around 500 rpm, then dropped from low flying Lancasters. The bombs would "skip" across the water, toward an enemy dam, thereby evading underwater nets designed for defending the dam. Once the bomb hit the dam, the spin would drive the drums down toward the lower parts of the dam, making them more susceptible to damage from the explosions.

The Lancasters saw most of their action in the European theater, although they were planned to be used in an invasion of mainland Japan. They were also used to drop food, to a still occupied Netherlands.

The Lancaster was powered by 4, V12 Merlin Rolls Royce engines. The Merlin Rolls Royce V12 was also used in the British Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the de Havilland Mosquito. The Lancaster had a maximum speed of 280 mph.The Lancaster had a service ceiling of 23,500 feet and a range of 3,000 miles. The Lancaster was armed with 8, 303 Browning machine guns and could carry "at the most" one 22, 000 lb Grand Slam bomb.

Inside the cockpit of an Avro Lancaster.
Inside the cockpit of an Avro Lancaster.

Do you know anyone that was a pilot or crew member of an Avro Lancaster?

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    • profile image

      Doug Clement 4 months ago

      The second airworthy Lancaster is operated by the Canadian War Planes Heritage Museum in Hamilton Ontario.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 12 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again Phoenix. Nicely crafted piece - but way too short.

      No mention of Roy Chadwick the designer. The Lanc was a further development of his Manchester (all British bombers were classed after cities). The Tallboy was also used in separate raids on the 'Tirpitz' and 'Scharnhorst' at anchor (.you know 'Tallboy' was named after a piece of kitchen furniture, just as 'Grand Slam' was named after a type of bet at horse races?)

      The 'Lanc' was further developed after WWII as the 'York' and converted to passenger working, whereas the next re-development was the 'Shackleton', and used in 'spying' on insurrectionists such as the Mao-Mao in Kenya in the 1950s. There are only two airworthy 'Lancs', one at the 'Dambuster' base near Lincoln (used in the 'Battle of Britain' flight along with a Spitfire and a Hurricane for special occasions), the other is 'Down Under' (either Australia or New Zealand).

      A lot of Lancs were also built by Avro in Canada.

      Keep up the good work on drumming up interesting pictures. They go down a treat.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 19 months ago from Chicago

      Hey Phoenix, Interesting hubs about bombers. Thanks!