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.