Lady of the Week: The Avro Lancaster

The Avro Lancaster in all her glory

A very special lady is 70 years young this weekend, the inimitable Avro Lancaster. The elegant, four-engined heavy bomber was a modified design of the less successful Avro Manchester, which ran on the tempestuous Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. To increase stability and performance in flight with a full bomb load, Avro tinkered with the design and upgraded the engines to four excellent Rolls-Royce Merlins, and the legendary Lancaster bomber was born. With a top speed of  287 mph and a top capacity bomb load ranging around 14,000 lb in regular Lancs (increased up to 22,000 lb for specially adapted Lancasters flying in 617 Squadron), the lady was a firm favourite with aircrews. She has continued to hold a special place in the country’s affection as the bomber that won the war, and a  symbol of endurance and defiance in the face of the enemy.

For a great in-depth appraisal of the Avro Lancaster and her role in the Second World War, try Squadron Leader Tony Iveson’s book, Lancaster: The Biography.

617 Squadron Lancasters en route to their final target of the Second World War, Hitler's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden.

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