The Avro Lancaster 

Great Britain
Great Britain

side view front view under view

The Avro Lancaster had quite a good reputation during the war. This four engined puppy had a huge bomb bay, capable of carrying heavy bombs and bomb-loads. Amongst others, it was the vehicle of squadron 617 during their famous Dam Buster operations. Also, it was the only Allied bomber capable of carrying the huge 22,000 lb (10.000 kg) Grand Slam bomb. The RAF Bomber Command crews loved the aircraft because it was maneuverable and could take a heavy punishment.

After it's introduction in March 1942 it quickly became the backbone of RAF Bomber Command.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Avro Lancaster in full flight
Avro Lancaster in full flight

 

Technical data on the Avro Lancaster B.Mk III
Powerplant 4 × Rolls Royce Merlin 28 or 38 inverted-Vee, rated at 1460 hp (1088.42 kW) each Role during war
  • Heavy Bomber
Length 68 ft 10 inch with the tail down Height 20 ft 4 inch with the tail down
Empty weight 41000 lb Operational weight 68000 lb typical,
72000 lb max
Wing Span 102 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 8
Wing Area 1300 sq ft Service ceiling 24500 ft
Maximum speed 281 mph at 11000 ft Cruising speed 227 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 20,000 ft in 41 min 24 sec Range 1040 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 2,154 Imp gal (2,586 US gal), plus provision for one or two weapons bays tanks of 400 Imp gal (480 US gal) each Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.303 in trainable forward firing guns in nose turret, 1000 rounds each
  • 2 × 0.303 in trainable guns in the dorsal turret, 1000 rounds each
  • 4 × 0.303 in trainable rearward-firing guns in the tail turret, 2500 rounds each
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 14,000 lb in 1 lower fuselage weapons bay, and generally consisting of either:
  • 1 × 12,000 lb bomb
  • 1 × 8,000 lb bomb, plus 6 × 500 lb bombs
  • 1 × 4,000 lb bomb, plus 6 × 1,000 lb bombs, plus 2 × 250 lb bombs
  • 6 × 2,000 lb bombs, plus 3 × 250 lb bombs
  • 6 × 1,500 lb mines
  • 14 × 1,000 lb bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 7: Pilot, co-pilot, navigator/observer, bombardier/gunner, radio operator, and 2 gunners Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 9 Januari 1941 Operational Service 1942 - 1950's
Manufacturer A. V. Roe and Company Ltd. Number produced 7374 total, 3030 this version
Metric system
Length 20.98 m with the tail down Height 6.2 m with the tail down
Empty weight 18598 kg Operational weight 30845 kg typical,
32659 kg max
Wing Span 31.09 m Wing Aspect ratio 8
Wing Area 120.77 m² Service ceiling 7468 m
Maximum speed 452 km/h at 3353 m Cruising speed 365 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 9065 m in 41 min 24 sec Range 1674 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 9792 liters, plus provision for one or two weapons bays tanks of 1818 liters each Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 7,7 mm trainable forward firing guns in nose turret, 1000 rounds each
  • 2 × 7,7 mm trainable guns in the dorsal turret, 1000 rounds each
  • 4 × 7,7 mm trainable rearward-firing guns in the tail turret, 2500 rounds each
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 6350 kg in 1 lower fuselage weapons bay, and generally consisting of either:
  • 1 × 5448 kg bomb
  • 1 × 3632 kg bomb, plus 6 × 227 kg bombs
  • 1 × 1814 kg bomb, plus 6 × 454 kg bombs, plus 2 × 113 kg bombs
  • 6 × 907 kg bombs, plus 3 × 113 kg bombs
  • 6 × 681 kg mines
  • 14 × 454 kg bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Avro Lancaster 
Avro Lancaster Mk I First production model of the Lancaster. This version was based on the design of the Avro Manchester, wich was powered by 2 × Rolls Royce Vulture X engines. The Vulture, however proved to be troublesome, and after the war had already started the Avro design team looked for alternatives. This turned out to be a 4-engined bomber, powered by Rolls Royce Merlins. The result proved to be one of the most successful heavy bombers of the war, even so that the British Air Ministry ordered the Manchester production stopped instantly to prioritise the lancaster production. Also, it was the omly bomber capable of carying the Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs.
Production of the Lancaster started with Merlin XX's, but during the construction of the 3434 aircraft they switched to Merlin 22's, and later to Merlin 24's. Also, the initial ventral turret was dropped and other aerodynamic changes made sure that the Lancaster's performance and bombload increased
Number built: 3434
Avro Lancaster B.Mk I (Special) This conversion of the Lancaster Mk I was built to carry the Grand Slam bomb. To be able to carry it the weapons bay doors had to be removed, and aerodynamic fairings were fitted.
Number converted: 33
Avro Lancaster B.Mk I (FE) This version was meant for operations in the Far East Theatre (FE). Because of the greater ranges the fuel capacity was increased, and the dorsal turret was dropped.
Number built/converted: unknown
Avro Lancaster B.Mk 1 Redesignation of the lancaster B. Mk I after the war
Number built: none
Avro Lancaster Mk II During the end of 1941 the Lancaster Mk I production increased so rapidly that it was feared that the number of airframes would outnumber the production of the Merlin engine. To provide an alternative, other engines were tested. Of these engines, the Bristol Hercules VI radial, rated at 1,725 hp (1286 kW), proved to be the best.
Number built: 300
Avro Lancaster B.Mk II Some of the B.Mk I's were fitted with the Bristol Hercules XVI engines to be able to carry the Grand Slam.
Number built: unknown within a total of 300
Avro Lancaster Mk III This version was equivalent to the Lancaster mk I, but fitted with American licensed Merlin engines, built by Packard. These engines were respectively typed as the Merlin 28 or 38 (equal to the British Merlin 22), or the Merlin 224 (equal to the British Merlin 24). Locally the engine was typed Packard V-1650.
This version was the mount of the famous No 617 Dam Buster squadron, and 23 adapted aircraft were able to carry the bouncing bombs.
Number built: 3030
Avro Lancaster B.Mk III Redesignated Lancaster Mk III during the war
Number built: none
Avro Lancaster B.Mk 3 Redesignated Lancaster B.Mk III after the war
Number built: none
Avro Lancaster B.Mk III (FE) This version was meant for operations in the Far East Theatre (FE). Because of the greater ranges the fuel capacity was increased, and the dorsal turret was dropped.
Number built/converted: unknown
Avro Lancaster B.Mk VI Conversion of the Lancaster Mk III. It was powered by 4 × Rolls Royce Merlin 85, and were used in the electronic warfare with radar jamming and chaff (window) equipment.
Number converted: 7
Avro Lancaster B.Mk VII Based on the Lancaster Mk III. These aircraft entered service after the war. Differences with the Mk III include another dorsal turret with 2 × 0.50 in guns, which was installed a little more forward on the fuselage
Number built: 180
Avro Lancaster B.Mk X Exaclty like the Lancaster B.Mk III, but built in Canada by Victory Aircraft
Number built: 430

Remarks:

The Lancaster was vital for some of the most daring and remarkable bombing missions of the war. It was instrumental for the Dam Buster operations on May 17 and 18, 1943. Also, quite a number operated from Canada and Australia.

Furthermore was the Lancaster the only World War 2 bomber capable of carrying the Tall-boy or Grand Slam bombs.
Some statistical information: Lancasters have flown some 156,000 sorties, and dropped about 609,000 tons of bombs

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00