back to article World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Aviation history is being made in Lincolnshire today as the only two airworthy Avro Lancasters in the world met up at RAF Coningsby this afternoon. The two World War II bombers – one operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM), the other by the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) – are due to rendezvous …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    On that note ...

    There was an interesting documentary about the Lancaster last week ...

    Is it just me, or are the BBC narrowing the window of opportunity to watch things on iPlayer ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On that note ...

      I noticed recently that I couldn't download some of the children's programs - which made long car journey time interesting...

      Things definitely amiss on iPlayer.

  2. Bob Wheeler
    Pint

    One the amazing engineering feats from the war has to the Merlin engins. There where used in just about every aircraft from Spitfires thur to Lancs during the war.

    My particular fav aircraft was the DH Mossie

    1. MyffyW Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: de Havilland Mosquito

      @Bob_Wheeler Thumbs up for mentioning the Mossie, one of the most elegant aircraft of all time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: de Havilland Mosquito

        Elegant perhaps, superbly designed and effective, the plane which caused Goering to rant about German incompetence and which was estimated to be nearly 6 times as effective as a Lancaster in terms of military effect per £ of cost.

        And, as is usual with British engineering success stories, nearly didn't happen due to lack of imagination at the War Office.

        1. nematoad Silver badge

          Re: de Havilland Mosquito

          "And, as is usual with British engineering success stories, nearly didn't happen due to lack of imagination at the War Office."

          You are probably right. I don't suppose that the War Office had any idea what to do with a Mosquito, not because they lacked imagination but because they were responsible for the Army. What you should have said and probably meant was that there was a lack of imagination in the Air Ministry. Yes the AM was woefully short of imagination in respect to the Mossie, they didn't believe that a wooden aircraft had any chance in an era of all-metal airframes. Good job they changed their minds as the Mossie became one of the most versatile aircraft of the Second World War.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: de Havilland Mosquito

            You are of course correct. That's what comes of forgetting the non joined up structures of WW2.

          2. kiwimuso

            Re: de Havilland Mosquito

            @ nematoad

            "AM was woefully short of imagination in respect to the Mossie, they didn't believe that a wooden aircraft had any chance in an era of all-metal airframes"

            Which is all the more remarkable as I saw that the ME 110 had a wooden frame, at least the rear half of it was which I saw on the remains of one at Hawkinge museum.

            I don't know about the ME109's construction, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it didn't have a similar construction. Does anyone know for sure?

    2. johnB

      Not only on planes

      According to my Dad, he served in WW2 on a Motor Torpedo Boat which was Merlin-powered.

      So the Merlin was more than "just" an aeroplane engine.

      1. Tanuki

        Re: Not only on planes

        And there was the Meteor - basically a poorer-production-quality version of the Merlin, minus the superchargers and with a lower compression-ratio so it would run OK on commercial-grade petrol rather than AVGAS - which was used in quite a few WWII-era tanks.

    3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Also, P52 Mustangs looked like their only future was going to scrapyards until they were reengined with Merlins (or licence-built Packards version later).

      1. Joe User
        Headmaster

        "P52"? I think you mean the P-51 Mustang.

        The original P-51 used an Allison V-1710 engine, which worked well below 15,000 feet but lost power at higher altitude. The Allison-engined planes were the P-51A Mustang and the A-36 Apache (ground attack and dive bombing). They performed very well in their designated roles.

        The P-51B was fitted with a Merlin engine. The two-stage supercharger on the Merlin is what allowed it to perform well at high altitude. The Allison V-1710 engine also worked fine at high altitude, when fitted with a proper supercharger (as it was in the P-38 Lightning).

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Sure, P51. My bad, was distracted...

    4. Tim Russell
      Childcatcher

      ..and trains

      Don;t forget the Deltic, running with Twin Merlins!

  3. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Is it just me...

    or does everyone have The Dam Busters March playing in their head when they read this article?

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me...

      Just you, but now you mention it...

    2. Joefish
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is it just me...

      Sorry, I'm wildly inaccurate and just have to settle for 633 Squadron.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it just me...

        I think you mean 617 Squadron.

        633 Squadron (fictional though it is) flew Mosquito's

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: Is it just me...

          I think you mean 617 Squadron.

          633 Squadron (fictional though it is) flew Mosquito's

          Joefish did say he was wildly inaccurate!

          (And an upvote to him for mentioning such an excellent film!)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it just me...

      That takes me back to my 1950s childhood. The first record I bought was the Dam Busters' March - cost something like 4/7d (and an odd ha'penny). One day when my teenage sister's friends were playing their pop records - one of them sat on my record. Being shellac it just broke into many pieces. I hope it was an accident - and not because I was pestering for a turn with the record player.

      A few years later my cousin had finished his RAF National Service in Cyprus. He had souvenir presents for our family - but took me to the toy shop to choose an Airfix model. I couldn't decide between the Lancaster, the Wellington, and the Bristol Super Freighter - so he bought me all three! Such generosity has since made me sensitive to the occasions when someone can be made very happy by the unexpected grandiose gesture. I wish I still had them - but they were lost in family house moves while I was away globe trotting. I look in the window of the local model shop - and wonder if I have nimble enough fingers these days to glue one together without the wheels etc seizing up. (Dabs away a tear)

      1. Ivan Headache

        Re: Is it just me...

        Was it the Billy Cotton version with the radio traffic "P Popsi, P Popsi ...."?

        'cos if it was, it was the first record I bought too.

        10 incher and it must be up in the loft somewhere.

      2. emsr

        Re: Is it just me...

        I was just wondering if there was a model of this gorgeous plane! I doubt if my local Michaels would have it but I'll look. A lot of the independent hobby shops have closed. They have these online plastic model catalogs these days... Whippersnappers.

    4. vonBureck
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is it just me...

      Chuck Yeager's Air Combat here, but otherwise just about right...

  4. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Go

    Eargasm...

    Just listening to that engine noise - I think the jet engine is great but a piston engine sounds soooo much better.

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Eargasm...

      Old-time civilian pilot defending his beloved Britannia against the upstart Tristar...

      "which would you rather have...four screws or three blow-jobs?"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eargasm...

      Here on the north west Scottish coast, I looked up when I heard an unusual-sounding plane, spotted it flying towards Lochinver, and grabbed the binoculars. It was this Lancaster, but the sound was rather different to the BoBMF one. I can only surmise that they use different engine or prop settings for distance flying in comparison with that lovely sound you get when the BoBMF flies at low level.

      Interesting this, as we had a long discussion about why, as far as we knew, the only Lanc flying was so far north, but it must have been the Canadian one.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs.

    And whilst in Lincs they are due to meet up with "Plain Jane", the Lincolnshire aviation heritage centre's taxiable Lancaster.

    1. MrT

      Good move...

      ... since that one does a lot of movie work (tail-up taxi runs etc.) - but have they renamed it? Last time I saw, it was "Just Jane"...

      Having spent a lot of time working on the Halifax reconstruction and Elvington airfield in the early days of Yorkshire Air Museum, my dad managed to get a turn in the East Kirby Lanc, and was most excited when allowed to sit in the left-hand seat on an engine run, with the real pilot in the co seat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good move...

        "Last time I saw, it was "Just Jane"..."

        Makes more sense - as she was the eponymous heroine of the strip cartoon. (Pun intended)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good move...

        > Last time I saw, it was "Just Jane"...

        No, they haven't renamed it, I am just an idiot who failed to read their website properly...

  6. Monkey Bob

    Aviation geeks

    Could any aviation geeks please tell if there is some online resource telling you what will be flying where & when?

    A couple of times in the Peaks I've been buzzed by WWII era planes (not counting the regular pleasure flights) with no warning (& always when I'm using the wrong lens) & have always wondered if they announce flight plans for heritage planes in advance anywhere.

    1. Mister Cheese
      Go

      Re: Aviation geeks

      Try here:

      http://www.raf.mod.uk/bbmf/displayinfo/

      The ones with '2Lancs' flying

    2. WonkoTheSane
      Thumb Up

      Re: Aviation geeks

      Monkey Bob - try this site. It seems fairly comprehensive:-

      http://www.airshows.org.uk/2014/calendar/uk-airshow-calendar.html

      1. Monkey Bob

        Re: Aviation geeks

        Thank you both, better than anything else I'd found.

        I was buzzed by either a Beaufighter or a Mosquito just below Ladybower on 18th May mid morning, I'd assumed it was the RAF BBMF, no mention of either on their site though (it had the D-Day paintjob too). That's what made me start looking, & now the plot thickens.

        **edit - I bet it was their Dakota actually, I never realised they have such similar arses & I've just noticed what could be windows on my (shit) photo.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Aviation geeks

          I think there's only one flying Mosquito, and that was rebuilt and lives in the US. So I'd guess something else is more likely.

        2. Hellcat
          Flame

          Re: Aviation geeks

          You need to play more war thunder. Does wonders for your WWII aircraft identification.

          TB-3M? Arm the rockets!

          1. Monkey Bob

            Re: Aviation geeks

            Play more War Thunder? That was the main reason I guessed it was a Beaufighter first! My first thought as it went over was "blimey they really got the in game engine noise right didn't they?"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Aviation geeks

              "That was the main reason I guessed it was a Beaufighter first! My first thought as it went over was "blimey they really got the in game engine noise right didn't they?"

              The Beaufighter was nicknamed "The Whispering Death" (by the Japanese?) because it was so quiet when approaching a target.

        3. cortland

          Re: Aviation geeks

          I was at an airshow in clofrnina once where,on stepping into a Dakota to what would ave been my late Dad's "office" as Navigator/radio operator it felt as if he was looking over my shoulder and nodding his head.

          The formation of B-17's and B24's joining up after takeoff the next day was another occasion for goose-bumps.

          Lord, pardon my neglect.

          I do not willfully forget

          All those who fought to keep me free

          Who live now just in memory,

          Photos on a yellowed page,

          Forever young, though others age.

          Let they who died that I might sleep,

          For whom yet wives and children weep,

          In glory with brave comrades stand,

          A silent Guard around our land.

          Author, myself.

          (Permission for use will be granted by email; has appeared elsewhere.)

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. David O

            Re: Aviation geeks

            Lovely poem Cortland,

            I lost an uncle, who was a RAAF Lancaster pilot flying with the RAF (97 Squadron), shot down over Germany,in Jan 1943 and never found and a man whom I would never meet (I was born 20 years later).

            Whilst I have yet to see a Lancaster flying, the Australian war memorial has a fairly complete Lancaster called "G for George". There is a rumor that they may in the near future take it out as a static display and restore for flight purposes.

        5. nematoad Silver badge

          Re: Aviation geeks

          "I was buzzed by either a Beaufighter or a Mosquito"

          If it was a Beaufighter that really would be talking about.

          As far as I know, I may be wrong here, are no Beaufighters currently airworthy.

          Let me know if I am wrong as I would love to see one in its true element.

        6. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: Aviation geeks

          I was near Coningsby over the w/e. No sign of the Lancs at the base, but plenty of Canadian maple flags in all the windows.

          Got to see a BBMF Hurricane doing low practice runs, a Spitfire taking off, and a dual-Typhoon QRA though.

    3. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Aviation geeks

      http://www.warplane.com/lancaster-2014-uk-tour.aspx

      the Canadian museums website listing.

      with a bit of luck and an atlas you might be able to figure out observation points in-between as well. Or use flightradar24 if they have transponder on.

  7. Chicken Marengo
    Happy

    Love that noise

    I've been lucky enough to have experienced the BBMF Lancaster on several occasions. The sound of those engines is truly marvelous.

    In fact the only other engine noise that's even close to being as good IMHO is the Vulcan on full throttle.

    1. Joefish
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Love that noise

      Quite right. The ear-shattering racket of a Eurofighter Typhoon climbing on full twin afterburners is just so uncouth in comparison.

      I was once on the M27 just passing the end of the runway at Southampton airport when the Lancaster took off heading for Bournemouth. I honestly ducked inside the car...

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Love that noise

        On the way up the M5 once, just as I got to Michel Wood services a pair of Apaches came in from the west and turned hard above the motorway, following it (and me) north. I was almost convinced that I was about to see them start to strafe the traffic, I was just looking for the flash of something being launched because every other time I've seen them do that has been on TV in a war zone.

        Put the wind right up me I can tell you!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          B****y Chinooks

          Try living underneath the route into Odiham when two or more fly over together at a few hundred feet. The whole house shakes. Noisy is far too kind a word.

          Merlins on the otherhand sound magnificent.

          Anon coz I don't want to be 'visited' by them.

          1. M.Zaccone

            Re: B****y Chinooks

            I don't mind the chinooks.

            I do miss the four times a day flyovers of concorde. That did make the house rumble!

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Love that noise

        Many years ago I was driving round the Heathrow perimeter road, to return a hire car. I was just passing the end of the runway when the whole world started to shake. I looked up though the sunroof to see what the hell was making that noise, and found myself looking straight into 4 purple afterburner cones of a Concorde climbing away. Beautiful, visually and audibly, and stunning in more ways than one!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Love that noise

          However, for sheer loud noise (with not much thrust) I think Russian passenger aircraft hold some sort of record.

          1. Chicken Marengo
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Love that noise

            Agreed with the Rusky noise record.

            Flew in a Russian military helicopter once in Nepal. It was approximately 2 days before I got my hearing back.

            Not a good noise, but definitely a loud noise! I've also flown in Sea Kings (wonderful beasts) and Lynx. they were positively silent compared to the Russian monster

            Obvious icon choice, although the one I flew in was white.

            1. Chicken Marengo

              Re: Love that noise

              actually, it was rust coloured with hints of white

        2. Toastan Buttar

          Re: Love that noise

          @Phil O'Sophical:

          Almost identical story to yours, except I was returning the hire car when Concorde was just coming in to land. It was like the Space Shuttle or something! Nearly wrote off the hire car as a result of staring in awe at the big bird.

    2. nichomach

      Re: Love that noise

      Noise-wise, I don't know whether I'd say I *liked* it as such, but lo these many years ago when I lived in Aberystwyth, I remember being overflown by a couple of (I think Turkish) Starfighters, and I've never heard another aircraft produce anything like the unearthly shriek from them. THAT was a noise which could occasion a swift trouser change....

      1. Uffish

        Re: Love that noise

        Many years ago also - Cape Cod, Mass, US of A. The parents found a nice camping site with surprisingly low prices. In the middle of the night we found out that we were at the end of a runway with single engined planes taking off on full afterburner. Think they were Starfighters, they had ridiculously short wings. Fabulous, never seen flames or heard a noise like it - but four big piston engines on a WWII bomber trumps it.

        1. MrT

          Re: Love that noise

          A Lancaster flew over my house earlier today, (Durham), about 13:30...

          Sadly, the weather has spoiled the meet-up between the two and the BBMF Lancaster is reportedly grounded, so I guess it was the Canadian Lanc flying in...

          1. Dave Bell

            Re: Love that noise

            Yep, seriously horrible weather moved into Lincolnshire from Cambridgeshire and the BBMF had to cancel flying. It was very severe rain in Cambridgeshire.

            I think I might have seen Vera in the distance if the visibility hadn't been lousy.

            You have to find the local news page for Lincolnshire to see any mention by the BBC. I haven't even seen a mention of the flash flooding except as local news. If it's not in London, it never happened...

      2. cortland

        Re: Love that noise

        I grew up in a USAF family... When throttled back the J-79 produced an unearthly moan; imagine the reaction of troops on the ground at night.. If I recall correctly, the USAF used them for point air defense, although the German Air Force used them for ground attack, a role whose accident rate in training led USAF pilots (presumably of OTHER fighters) to call them "Lawn Darts."

      3. Pete 47
        Happy

        Re: Love that noise

        I "fondly" recall the utterly un-holy noise Starfighters make after attending the Leicester (Stoughton) air-display in probably the late seventies.

        The crowd were primed to look out for two (RCAF I think) Starfighters coming from a particular direction and the announcer was saying can you see them yet? when without any warning and from directly behind the crowd at very low level the two blasted overhead. The noise was biblical, people screamed, some actually fell over with shock or dropped to their knees hands over ears, children were crying it was pandemonium.

        I loved aircraft at the time but that scared me just a little. I can still feel my spleen shaking from the sheer sound pressure when I recall it.

        Wouldn't be allowed today of course.

        1. Mark Allen

          Re: Love that noise

          Starfighters - F104G. Can't remember if it was Fairford or Greenham Common. Was a RIAT show. We were at the far end of the runway when the pair of Starfighters did a pass. One going as slow as possible, when his partner came screaming through at high speed underneath.... and then he pulled up right in front of us... and crack!! Naughty boy broke the sound barrier!! Loud Plus!! (And no doubt a certain pilot got a bit of a bo11ocking when he landed)

          For fans of those silly flying coffins it is well worth tracking down Bob Calvert's album "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Lockheed_and_the_Starfighters

          Even though my post is about Startfighters... I'd much rather have the noise of any other of the aircraft being mentioned here. From Mossies to Lightnings... it is such a pity we will never hear those awesome soundtracks ever again.

          I now have to go and book some tickets for an airshow to see those two Lancs together. Two lancs, Spitfire, Hurricane makes ten Merlins. Still doesn't quite out roar the Spitfire flypast of a RIAT of the past where there were at least 15 flying together! (Some time in the 1980s)

          A BIG thank you to all those enthusiasts who keep these historic aircraft in the air.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Love that noise

            "For fans of those silly flying coffins it is well worth tracking down Bob Calvert's album "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters"

            Oh hell yes! I'd love to get a replacement copy of that! Funny as hell.

            Catch a falling starfighter

            Put it in the pocket of your jeans

            You can use it as a cigarette lighter

            Or as an opener for a can of beans.

            Once heard, never forgotten :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Love that noise

      Vulcan recently flew low over Chippenham - my god what a beautiful plane

      1. Tim Russell

        Re: Love that noise

        And all three should be flying together this year.... Two Lancs and a Vulcan...drool

    4. joms
      Thumb Up

      Re: Love that noise

      The only thing that sounds better than a Merlin engine is 4 Merlin engines.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Love that noise

      At an air display at Wem in the late 1960s - they announced that the English Electric Lightning was delayed. Was it heck - the next minute it came in really low over the hedges then climbed with glowing afterburners over the crowd. The sound was pulverising - and the view fantastic.

      There have been times in the past when the BBMF trio would follow the main East Coast railway line out of London. While crossing the Luton Airport approach path they would be really low and the sound was incredible.

    6. Toastan Buttar

      Re: Love that noise

      @Chicken Marengo:

      Precisely what I came to the comments section to say - AND I was also going to say about the only exception being the Vulcan.

      (Though I'm sure a Saturn 5 rocket would be something to behold).

  8. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    While I was at a festival just down the road from Conigsby last year, the BBMF Lanc flew over at what seemed like tree-top height.

    Not much is more impressive than four Merlins at full chat about 100m above your head, lovely sight!

    (We also got to see a Spit and a Hurricane, and the Vulcan XH588 flew over the day before, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled again this year. Actually, four Bristol Olympus's are pretty damn impressive as well)

  9. Vulch
    Black Helicopters

    Random factoid.

    Next time you see a Lanc, remember its wingspan is a gnats over 100ft so when flying a dam buster attack run the height above water was about the same as the distance from one wingtip to the inboard engine the other side...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Random factoid.

      One of my most satisfying moments was in a car with a loud, obnoxious Yank (sorry, friends, they do exist, just like loud obnoxious Brits) telling me how some US aircraft at the local base could fly at 600mph at 65ft. Without thinking I repeated a comment from a colleague formerly in the RAF: "So, high and slow then".

      The visit did not go well till I discovered that none of the engineers at the plant could stand him either.

      1. Paul_Murphy

        Re: Random factoid.

        Well you could have started a discussion about the Buccaneer, or the TSR2 I suppose.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Random factoid.

        I wonder what he would have thought about a Buccaneer?

  10. GlenP Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Rats

    They will be flying over my house a week on Sunday - and I'll be on a train heading for Scotland.

  11. on ap standa

    A couple of times in the Peaks I've been buzzed by WWII era planes (not counting the regular pleasure flights) with no warning

  12. lawndart

    says:

    Blood ran cold for a moment on reading the title to this article - a meet can be construed as a collision.

    The nice thing about living near Sywell in Northamptonshire is the Vulcan and the Lancaster frequent the place for display training with the local acrobatic team The Blades. I have had the Lanc orbit my house at low level while waiting for its slot.

  13. Richard Scratcher

    Pleasure flights

    I saw Vera on display at the Canadian warplane museum a couple of years ago. It's possible to book it for a flight - but it's expensive at about $10,000 for a group of 4 people.

  14. Neil 44

    BBMF flies over my house almost every year when its going to Farnborough.... Heard it but didn't quite have time to grab anything photographic this year.

    Remember seeing a Vulcan at RAF Holton airshow (quite a few) years ago when they were still in service. Definitely impressive when he put the burners on and climbed!

    They also had a Lightning there that sat on its tail and went straight up....

    Last but not least, they had a middle-eastern private airliner do a flypast at low level: its pilot had trained at Holton!

    Lincolnshire to see 3 Lancs: have to see what we're doing that w/e !!

    1. Ivan Headache

      error!

      No burners on a Vulcan.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: error!

        And it's RAF Halton not Holton (though that's how it's pronounced).

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: error!

        Unless you count the Olympus 593 testbed Vulcan XA903 used for Concorde...

        http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/903/903_flypast.htm

        https://encrypted.google.com/#q=vulcan+olympus+testbed+593+image

  15. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    My friend's Dad was a navigator on Lancasters in WWII. He was known as 'old man', as he was the oldest surviving guy in the squadron for a long time, including the CO. He was 24.

    On a more cheerful note, the trans-Atlantic crossing reminds me of a documentary I caught some of - and didn't manage to track down. Don Bennett was given the job of getting US and Canadian built planes across to Blighty in the war. That flight was a dangerous and difficult passage in those days, with inexperienced crews not helping. Apparently (according to said documentary) he trained his navigators and crews so well, that he didn't lose a single plane when in charge. Although losses were rather higher once he'd left.

    He then was put in charge of setting up the RAF's pathfinder force. Which he was also very good at. Again from documentary he was at an Air Ministry meeting asking for more Mosquitoes for the pathfinders, to be told they were impossible to use at night, due to the flames from the engine exhaust. To which his response was, "that's funny, I've been flying one all this week."

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Ferrying planes...

      I suspect that my dad's crew would have LOVED to only have to ferry their plane to England during the war. Ferrying B-25 Mitchell medium bombers from the states to India was a long and dangerous haul, even with the reduced risk of being shot down on the trip over. I recall him mentioning (I think) stops in Venezuela, Rio, Ascension Island, Cape Town... And I know I'm missing a good few.

      The standard joke was that, if your were carrying maximum fuel and minimum everything else and if you had a good tailwind and your navigator and pilot were on the top of their game, you had just enough fuel to fall 10 feet sort of the runway at Ascension.

      Dad was the radio operator and, as the time approached for him to pick up the Ascension radio beacon, everyone was understandably on edge -- there was a LOT of water out there -- and all eyes that weren't busy flying the plane were watching the navigator. Finally, he caught the beacon -- they were coming straight down the beam. As he told it, he first patched the navigator in to his signal so he knew they were on the beam, but he apparently didn't hear it and continued checking and rechecking his maps, tables, and calculations, getting visibly more nervous as time went on. Dad checked his system again -- radio beacon good, patch to navigator good... He was just about to speak up when the nav just grabbed everything on the table up in his arms, screamed "I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!" and threw the whole mess out the hatch.

      There was a moment of horrified silence before dad patched everyone else in, so the whole crew could hear the beacon. The nav fell over laughing hysterically at his little joke. How did the others take it? As dad put it, "We almost saved the Japanese the trouble of killing him."

  16. Johnny Canuck

    "Vera" was a day late taking off, because of a problem with the magnetos on one of the engines. They had her ready to go around 10:00AM the next morning. Also, they filmed the takeoff from behind Vera in a Mitchell B-25 medium bomber for a documentary.

  17. Alistair Silver badge
    Pint

    It makes me think somewhat.

    That parts of Vera were assembled not many feet from where I sit these days.....

    You folks over there enjoy the tour please, since we wont get the joy of seeing two of these in the air togther....

  18. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I'd love to see a Lanc fly

    ...though a B-17 is an adequate substitute. I also was privileged enough to see "Glacier Girl" (only flying P-38) this summer. She sounded a lot like the turbofans in an A-10, strangely enough.

    Speaking of Merlin engines, I remember seeing a TV show showing ancient films of the production lines. One of the machines honed all 12 cylinders in both blocks simultaneously. I've always wondered what happened to that piece of equipment.

    And of course you can also read about Miss Shilling's orifice on Wikipedia...

    1. mky

      Re: I'd love to see a Lanc fly

      Glacier Girl is the only P38F in airworthy condition, there are about a dozen P-38s of various models currently flying. I'd love to see the Lancs up and about together. closest I've come is the Collings Foundations B-24 and B-17 together. You Brits are very lucky to have the opportunity.

  19. JaitcH
    Happy

    I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

    I read all the usual rah-rah British books on the feats achieved by the Lancasters and their crews.

    Then, after moving to Canada, I passed by what is now ONTARIO PLACE on the :Lakeshore Boulevard where for many, many years a Lancaster was mounted atop a pedestal right next to the downtown direction traffic lanes.

    Unfortunately it was removed and replaced by more politically acceptable objects.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

      Some years ago I had a holiday job at RAF Scampton washing Vulcans for 617 squadron (beats stacking shelves in Tesco!). As a treat one day they let me go into the static Lanc they had at the main gate to vacuum it - boy, was it cramped! And it was made worse as it was a very sunny summer day and every time bare flesh brushed against metal I got burned - serious respect for the thousands who sat in them for hours on end while being shot at.

      1. Vic

        Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

        As a treat one day they let me go into the static Lanc they had at the main gate

        Not quite a Lanc, but the Wellesbourne Vulcan mob do tours of XM655 on Saturdays. They do a cockpit tour in return for a donation - I've not made that yet.

        Vic.

        1. Mark Allen

          Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

          Lanc or Vulcan cockpits - don't know which is the scariest! Tiny little dark spaces to sit in. Especially when you think of the distance you would have to cover when flying one. And if things went wrong, it wasn't exactly easy to get back out again.

          Reading this thread I am realising how lucky I was to have been in a small Air Cadet Squadron in the late 1980s which meant I got to experience so many of these classic aircraft. And can only be amazed at what the crews of these craft had to go through.

          Though the true heroes that I met in those years were the members of the Guinea Pig Club. Men were really made of something different back then.

          1. Vic

            Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

            And if things went wrong, it wasn't exactly easy to get back out again.

            Vulcan pilots had ejector seats. They'd get out just fine.

            The "back office" crew - the other three members of the flight crew - had to slide down the entry hatch and fall out of the bottom of the aircraft.

            That's bad enough - but the entry hatch is forward of the nosewheel. There is a procedure in the manual for getting out when the nosewheel is down - the designers calculated that the crew would miss the mainwheels by some 12 inches...

            Vic.

            1. Mark Allen

              Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

              It was the guys in the less fashionable seats of the Vulcan I was thinking about. The three of them in an ordered queue trying to get down a narrow stairwell and out of that hatch. All while the aircraft was likely to be a bit windy if the front two had already banged out. And where would they be landing in their parachutes if they did jump out?

              If anything I think the Lanc guys almost had an easier time of it!

              (Now off to read accounts of the people who *did* try and get out of that daft hatch... this thread has had me off reading all kinds of reports :))

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

                It was the guys in the less fashionable seats of the Vulcan I was thinking about. The three of them in an ordered queue trying to get down a narrow stairwell and out of that hatch.

                There's a Concorde at Duxford (well, there was 20 years ago!) which is partially set up to show how the plane looked during early test flights. Right at the back there's an escape hatch in the floor, with a hefty steel blade a bit like a boat's centreboard that could be lowered in front of it. If everything went titsup their best hope was to lower the blade into the airflow, which would in theory allow them to "drop" through the hatch and be completely clear of the plane without being decapitated by the edge of the hatch when the wind caught them. If they survived that, they wouldn't care where their parachute took then!

                As a child I remember the early test flights up & down the Irish sea, standing in the garden to hear the sonic boom (before the complaints about smashed greenhouses stopped them). My Mum's cousin worked on the team, I still have a cast alloy model he made sitting on a shelf beside me.

                1. AdamT

                  Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

                  That's because it _is_ one of the test planes. The passenger seats, etc. were added at the museum to show ordinary mortals what the commercial version was like.

                  But, yes, I did look at those chutes and think "how bad would it have to get before _that_ starts looking like a good idea" !

  20. Terrence Bayrock
    Thumb Up

    The NOISE is fabulous!!

    In Alberta, there is a Lanc at : http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/

    It is not flightworthy, but they fire up all 4 Merlins occasionally. Was there on the first run. WOW! Could just imagine hundred's of them in the aerodromes and in flight....

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Daaaah daah dahdah dadadaaaaah dah

    Daaaah daah dahdah dadadaaaaah dah

    Daaaah dah daaah dah daaaaah dadaaaaah

    Dah dah dadadah daaaaaaaah...

    1. Michael M

      Re: Bah!

      There is an extra a. I'll leave it to the diligent readers to spot the obvious mistake.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: There is an extra a.

        No, there isn't. That particular bit was hummed in a Canadian accent as a tribute to Guy Gibson and "S for Sugar".

  22. asdf Silver badge

    Lancaster vs B17

    The Lancaster could hold a lot more payload and was much better for carpet bombing at night but check out the battle damage a B17 could take and return home on this page. Both won the war.

    http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109255

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Lancaster vs B17

        Well opinions are opinions I guess. Still really as much as anything what won the war was UK Commonwealth and Russian determination and the vast scale of American production. We could build shit back then and the first Germans to realize they had lost the war were the U boat captains when they saw the number of Liberty ships heading for Europe. Note that I don't really mention Japan. They were clueless to attack us and we could probably have beaten them in two years if not for the much more dangerous Germany which is what really worried us.

        1. Lapun Mankimasta

          Re: Lancaster vs B17

          And if they had been Confederate Ships they would've been Slavery Ships. /SNARK OFF

          Actually, speaking from a Pacific perspective, the Japanese lost the war but won the peace, and they remade Asia. After the WWII the European empires in that part of the world collapsed.

          And the Japanese rather punctured Churchill's reputation - sinking the Prince of Wales and the Repulse - which led to the total collapse of British power in Singapore ... no, the British presence in the Pacific was quite secondary to that of the Americans, and that was largely possible to the Indians not going over to the Japanese, and the Australia New Zealand combination providing an unsinkable aircraft carrier for the Americans to retake the Philipines.

  23. DanceMan

    When I was a lad, I used to see and hear piston engine aircraft flying over Vancouver in the 50's.The sound gets in your blood. My dad was a tool and die maker during WWII building aircraft here in Vancouver. My cousin in northern Alberta was part of the team that rescued a Canso (Catalina) amphibian from the Arctic that is currently being rebuilt to flying condition. I got to crawl through it this spring.

  24. gerdesj Silver badge

    A flight or two of Phantoms going in and out of RAF Wildenrath made a fair bit of noise over my school play ground in the 70s. As did the air displays they would put on - including the obligatory pair of nodding Harriers mucking about not very far from the crowd.

    Watching Starfighters n Phantoms (Luftwaffe) and all sorts of other bloody great military noise makers was how I grew up. Leopards, Chieftans, Lucks, Saladins, Saracens and others would run up and down the road. Oh and Gazelles, Jaguars, Chinooks and others also filled the air.

    Dad used to blow things up for a living (ATO) before settling down to quieter pursuits like blowing things up in demos at the local ammunition depot.

    Wonder where the tinnitus came from ...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent, nostalgic page(s) of comments, thanks all. For me, the childhood aircraft sound of choice was the whine of Sea Harriers landing at RNAS Yeovilton. Certainly not a relaxing sound, but a distinctive one.

  26. BoldMan

    Looking forward to seeing these ladies at Dunsfold over the bank holiday weekend!

  27. Rich83
    Thumb Up

    Harriers

    I remember being taken to the end of the runway in London to watch Concorde taking off - still one of the best engineering feats our country has produced in my ill-informed opinion. My dad's aunt was one of the very few female engineers involved in the prototype 'flying bedstead' which lead to the Harrier, another example of engineering at its best and one that nobody else seemed capable of replicating (with a single engine at least, as I understand it). The USMC must have been laughing when they picked them up from us at that price...

    Anyway, here's a pilot's account of flying the SR-71 at otherworldly speeds, I can only dream... http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/vetscor/1981814/posts

    1. MrT

      Here's another...

      ... Brian Shul giving a great account of his time as a pilot, and how nearly burning to death in a crash changed his outlook on life. He's the SR-71 pilot in the famous LA Center speed check story, which he mentions near the end (it's an hour long, and please ignore all the 'trendies' at Le Web who can't do anything unless it involves a smartphone or tablet). Brian is also a photographer and it seems he has more photos of the SR-71 variant of the Blackbird family than anyone outside of the Skunkworks, many included in his presentation in this video.

      1. cortland

        Re: Here's another...

        SR-71? I recall around 1978 or so seeing a primary (not transponder) return on an FAA surveillance radar display our detachment's civilian techs were responsible for. IIRC, the PPI returns were far enough apart to equate to some 2000 mph. They didn't need clearance above 60,000 feet.

  28. Andrew Taylor 1
    Devil

    If you want to see the Lanc

    Go to the website posted on Page 1, the RAF website does not acknowledge anything involving the 2 Lancs that occurs north of Watford.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delicate sound of thunder

    Two Lancs in formation to the soundtrack of 8 merlins; poetry to bring a tear to the eyes of grown men.

  30. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Impressively long lived

    It's amazing that they can keep two Lancs flying for nearly seventy years! Sadly not true for other aircraft - Vulcan XH778 is still going now, but next year she'll hit the buffers because of the rules about flying hours for some of the airframe components, and that will presumably be that. Keep an eye open for her at shows this year and next, as it'll be your last chance

    More at http://www.vulcantothesky.org/ - they need £200K to service her for next year's displays.

    1. Vic

      Re: Impressively long lived

      Vulcan XH778 is still going now

      XH558.

      but next year she'll hit the buffers because of the rules about flying hours for some of the airframe components, and that will presumably be that

      The wing modifications last winter are sufficient to keep the airframe going for about 7 or 8 years. The problem is the engines - there's little life left in them, according to Rolls Royce. And RR need to sign off on the engines for the aircraft to keep flying. The project expects to fly the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but that's the lot, unless some sort of miracle occurs. The display has been modified to minimise throttle movement, which gets the most out of the engines, at the cost of airframe fatigue.

      http://www.vulcantothesky.org/ - they need £200K to service her for next year's displays.

      It's a great charity, and they're always short of cash. The remaining flying seasons are not yet paid for :-(

      Vic.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What has thiz got to do with IT?

    I like fast cars but I wouldn't expect to see an article about formula one on el reg.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The last time looked, a vulture is a bird - most birds fly.

    2. JimC Silver badge

      to do with IT...

      Three pages of posts and counting says we're interested...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See them together on Jersey

    Due to fly together in the display in Jersey

    http://www.jerseyairdisplay.org.uk/news/showarticle.php?articleID=181

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-jersey-28012462

    Should be good!

  33. Daedalus Silver badge

    Lucky me

    I have actually been on board the Canadian Lanc, and I didn't have to pre-book or stand in line for hours either! Ah the joys of living in an undercrowded country! And add in a B-17, B-24, and a B-25. And a Canuck Avro Anson...

  34. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    For what it's worth

    The gent who twenty years later became my godfather was an aircraft mechanic working on Lancasters first in Canada and latterly at Scampton.

    As a child, my train set speed controller was the cabin lighting dimmer from a Lancaster. (When he died, I donated the part and a number of other souvenirs back to one of the reconstruction groups.)

  35. Lapun Mankimasta

    There's a Lanc sitting inside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Used to go look at it on occasion. "G For GEORGE" is awesome.

    https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/george/

    http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RELAWM31788/?image=1#display-image

    https://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_614.asp

    Then just a few years ago I got to sit inside a Bristol Freighter's cockpit at Wigram, and thought how it must've been for the big bombers as well, with the engines roaring in your ears ...

    1. Vic

      Then just a few years ago I got to sit inside a Bristol Freighter's cockpit

      <plug mode="shameless">

      I've been sitting in quite a few cockpits lately. If you think a vulcan is cramped, you should try a Harrier :-)

      I've joined the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. It's one of the few museums that actively encourages you to try out the exhibits.

      If you're anywhere near Salisbury, and interested in aviation, it's a load of fun. But I'm not entirely objective here - I like planes :-)

      </plug>

      Vic.

      1. Chris 69

        You can sit in cockpits at Bournemouth too.

        Well worth a visit just to scare yourself by how small a lightning cockpit is!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Lapun Mankimasta

      "G For GEORGE" was from 460 Squadron RAAF (which was an International squadron in WW2), my Dad was an RAF member of this squadron as a tail gunner on Lancasters.

      After the war the Squadron leader commented that the losses they had suffered was equivalent to the entire squadron being wiped out 5 times, it's said it was safer statistically being in the infantry than it was being in Bomber Command at that time, and nearly all these guys were in their early 20's.

  36. TWB

    Grandad built Lancs, Dad did Vulcans

    My grandad worked at Avro Woodford during the war buildling Lancasters - I have a great picture of about 40 men all standing in front of one Lanc in various forms of attire - one looks like a gardener, another a grease monkey, some are in smart office clothes, one looks like a secret service agent....There was this story in our family that my Grandad was involved in the bouncing bomb stuff, but he is no longer alive to ask and I don't know how to find out more (now that I am more interested...)

    My Dad then worked on the Vulcan - doing his engineering apprenticeship with Avro - we love the sounds of both aircraft even though I have such mixed feelings about bombers being a bit of a ~peace loving hippy~....When I see+hear the WWII memorial flight fly past, it brings a lump to my throat and yet I would not describe myself as particularly patriotic or proud of being British.

    Anyone any ideas how I find out more about my Lanc photo?

    1. Dan delaMare-Lyon

      Re: Grandad built Lancs, Dad did Vulcans

      I'd start with these good folks:

      http://www.avroheritage.com/Avro%20Heritage%20Goup%20News.html

      D.

    2. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Grandad built Lancs, Dad did Vulcans

      Have the same problem with Mum. She did crypto work at Nebraska Ave (either German or Japanese codebreaking or support of same). We have a lovely photo of her and her coworkers, posed in front of the chapel on the gorunds, in their dress uniforms, with (of course) nothing written on the back. I went poking around, found a museum in Florida that has a bunch of the Naval Security Group records, and sent them the photo. Their reply?

      "We have one just like it. Can you identify anyone for us?"

      All the OP-20-G stuff came out after she died, and now that I know more, I have a whole bunch of questions I would love to ask her. Greatest Generation, without a doubt.

  37. JimC Silver badge

    The warbird scene is amazing now. I was reflecting last week that 50 years ago I would ask my mother to take a long cut past Tangmere to pass the gate guardian Spitfire, just to see one, but last week there were one or two Spitfires over her house every day...

  38. Paul Barker 1

    About 20 years ago I was with a party of schoolchildren and others spending a day restoring the daub (clay) panels of a thatched Lincolnshire 'mud-and-stud' building located on the other side of the road at the end of RAF Coningsby's runway when the BBMF came in to land over the building preceded by the dull throb of the six merlins (1xSpitfire, 1xHurricane and 1x Lancaster) before the noise rose to a crescendo as they burst into view, a few feet above our heads…

    The kids had enjoyed mixing up the mud for the repairs but their day (and mine) was made truly unforgettable as the Memorial Flight roared overhead and the Lancaster's pilot waved at us from the cockpit !

  39. Alfred 2
    Happy

    Art

    Is it me or does anyone else think of these aircraft as works of art as well as impressive feats of engineering?

    I think the Lancaster, the Mosquito and the Spitfire were beautful pieces of machinery.

  40. Peter Simpson 1
    Black Helicopters

    As long as we're talking about planes overhead

    Spent the last two weeks on Martha's Vineyard. There are two biplanes with big old radial engines that run sightseeing trips over the beaches daily. You don't even need to look up when you hear them to know what they are.

    Also overhead twice last week: a C-17, three V-22 Ospreys and two helicopters with fancy paint jobs, as the Obamas came in for their summer holidays. Those Ospreys sound strange, and you can hear them coming a mile away. They don't look like they should be able to fly. One of them came over with its engine pods in transition between forward and hover modes.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blenheim to fly again... soon

    The sounds of the Lancaster Merlin engines in brilliant, we hear a lot of them over Cambridgeshire. I've had the pleasure of flying a Spitfire, and I must say it's an awesome place to hear a Merlin engine from.

    For air buffs, the Blenheim will be flying again soon (Bristol engines).

  42. Peter Ford

    WTF is that!!!!?

    I've seen both of these Lancasters in their natural habitats: the BBMF one flies over us at least once a year usually with his two pals, although I was buzzed by the Lancaster whilst kayaking up the river Medway when it flew over the War and Peace show one year - the title is an approximation of what was said as it came over from behind at treetop height... nearly fell out of my boat!

    The Canadian one I saw whilst walking around a lake near Banff: in that case it was "I'm sure that's a Lancaster bomber - WTF is it doing here?". It was a little higher flying between the hills, so the noise wasn't quite as dramatic, but still very distinctive.

  43. Ethangar

    The memories

    About 25 years ago I was at the Hamilton Airshow to see all the wonderful old warbirds. Bought a ticket ( proceeds to the museum etc ) for a ride in one of the warbirds. AND WON! Got to go for a 30 min flight in the Lanc. Its deafening, cold, cramped... And it took weeks for me to stop grinning like an idiot :)

  44. ari

    mmmmm warbirds

    It would be utterly amazing to see two Lancs fly in formation...might make me cry a little.

    I've seen a few warbirds fly, but last sunday I finally got to see a Spitfire fly, do a little fake dogfight, flybys, and other light stunts.

    It was so BEAUTIFUL! I felt like I was ten years old again just gazing into the rainy sky and grinning.

    My faves have to be the Mossie, Spifire, Lanc, Beufighter....and so on

    Anyways, Vulture central should definitely post stories such as this one!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: mmmmm warbirds

      Three would be better, if only they could get the 3 million needed to get the other one licensed, for now it just gives taxi rides.

  45. Blearghhh

    A late comment, but...

    The Canadian Lancaster overflies my house on a semi-regular basis, given that it lives just a few cities over from me. The engines are very distinctive - you can't miss it when it happens.

    If you're really interested, have money to spare, and don't mind going to Hamilton, Ontario, you can take a flight on the aircraft yourself: http://www.warplane.com/visit-cwhm/vintage-aircraft-flights.aspx

  46. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Duxford Airshow

    This weekend and the Lancs are scheduled to both fly on Sunday.

    Sadly, I won't probably be able to go there this time...

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