Avro's Lancaster four-engine heavy bomber became Britain's iconic bomber of the war, just as the B-17 was for the US. Famed as the "Dam Buster" plane and as the workhorse of the saturation bombing of German cities, the Lancaster had a massive lifting capacity and decent performance. Since it was designed to fill a different strategic role than the American B-17, B-24 or B-29, the comparisons that are (and were) often made are unfair and misleading.
We do not have a Design Analysis of the Lancaster, but it is frequently mentioned in "World's Best" collections and in places like the "Britain at War" column in Air News. There are a number of images both photos and drawings available and there are a few articles that deal specifically with operations.
The immediate predecessor of the Lancaster was the Manchester two-engine heavy bomber.
To meet air transport requirements, the Lancaster was modified to the Lancastrian cargo/passenger transport. The wing, power plants and landing gear provided the basis for the York civil transport. The relationship between the Lancaster and the York is very much like the relationship between the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-307 Stratoliner.
- An item in the "Canadian News" section of "Aviation Abroad", October, 1942, [ HTML ] mentions the arrival of a Lancaster in Canada to serve as a production example.
- "Lancaster Production Details" [ HTML ] has a short description of the assembly breakdown.
- "Avro Lancaster" is a one-page pictorial with overall and detail photos of the Lancaster at the factory.
- "British Mine Layers" [ HTML ] pictures and describes aerial mine-laying.
- "Lancaster Production" [ HTML ] introduces the Lancaster and gives a short description of the major specifications (but not performance.)
- "Britain's Ground Crews Batter Germany's War Plants" [ HTML ] describes actions of the ground crews in keeping 'em flying.
- "British Bomber-Transport Conversions" [ HTML ] describes the use of British and American bomber types as cargo-transport planes. Development of the York from the Lancaster is mentioned.
- "Sixty Minutes in the Avro Lancaster"[ HTML ] describes preflight procedures in the Lancaster.
- A news clip from March, 1944, [ HTML ] gives further information on the York.
- A news clip from May, 1944, [ HTML ] mentions the Mark III with Merlin 28 engines.
- A news clip from September, 1944, [ HTML ] advertises the reduced weight of a new undercarriage.
- "Allies vs Japan" [ HTML ] discusses the plan to move Lancasters and Halifaxes, along with the B-17s and B-24s, from Europe to supplement the B-29s in aerial bombardment of Japanese installations.
- A news clip with photo,"Mufti-version Lancaster" shows a Lancastrian civil-transport version, gear-down, from 10 o'clock low.
- A photo of a Lancaster on the ground, seen from the rear.
- "Bomber Command" [ HTML ] includes 2 photos:
- "Avro Lancaster" is a page of 6 captioned photos:
- Lancaster embryo undergoes scrutiny of the A V Roe Company executives. This wooden scale model for wind tunnel testing furnished engineering data for Britain's number-one bomber, the Avro Lancaster I, that made its debut during the Augsburg day raid last April. Managing Director R H Dobson, CBE, is seated at head of table.
- The pretty English woman peers through the "optical flat" just as bombardiers are currently lining up Italian cities through this glass enclosure. The huge Lancasters are paying nightly visitations to Turin, Genoa and Milan and leaving as their calling cards 8-ton and 4-ton blockbusters. Rome may be next big target on the RAF list.
- These great wheel assemblies are required to support the Lancaster's 60,000 pounds. In addition to 8 tons of bombs, weight includes 2,000 gallons of fuel, four gun turrets.
- Camouflage is sprayed on the outer panels of the Lancaster's 102-foot wing. Note the extreme simplicity of the wing structure; this makes for easy maintenance and repair.
- The Frazier-Nash tail turret is being fitted into its mounting, an operation demanding great precision. These electric-hydraulic turrets swing four Browning .303-cal guns.
- The completed Lanc is towed onto field for test. The Lancaster's four engines develop speed of about 300 mph. Rome is 225 minutes from London at cruising speed.
- Aviation's "Sketchbook of Design Detail" regular feature has some detail sketches:
- February, 1943, shows an annotated cutaway (redrawn from Flight magazine) with plan and right-side elevation sections.
- February, 1944, shows cross sections of the fuselage at the rear of the pilot's compartment, looking forward, and of the wing structure.
- A Yearbook entry shows a Lancaster I from 9 o'clock low, characterizes the Lancaster as "Britain's greatest bomber."
- "British Mine Layers" [ HTML ] includes six photos of preparations for an aerial mine-laying mission:
- Page 36, 5 photos
- WAAF knits while the big cylindrical mines are being fused prior to loading aboard the big Lancaster bombers. Tractors which tow the trolleys are driven by Women's Auxiliary Air Force personnel. This relieves men for front-line service.
- Loading Lancasters with the torpedo-like mines. Lancs are used because of their great weight-carrying ability. They can make five round trips to the Kiel Canal before the biggest minelayer gets three-quarters of the way there, while facing few dangers.
- In the fusing shed, a Navy petty officer directs the final adjustment on the big mines.
- Heavy crane is used to lift the mines onto the trolleys. Latter are towed, in most cases, six at a time, by a tractor to the waiting airplane for loading.
- Lancaster's belly swallows up the huge mines. They are hoisted aboard by the hydraulic bomb lifts and stowed just like bombs in a horizontal position. Mines this size can seriously damage big warship, or carriers, can sink almost any merchantman.
- Page 37, 5 photos
- RAF Bomber Command aircraft are decorated with many peculiar emblems. Those used for minelaying bear nautical artwork. The names of the emblems often have no significance to anyone but members of the squadrons. Most are entirely comic.
- The Lancaster is, literally, a winged workhorse of the RAF. Britain's best bomber has a wing span of 102', is 69' 6" long and 20' 6" high. It weighs 60,000 pounds and flies 300 miles per hour with a load of more than 8 tons usually four block-busters.
- Air crews bicycle from quarters out to dispersal areas where Lancs are waiting. Bikes are handy in covering the distances of expansive airdromes.
- The Lancaster is a flying elephant in more ways than one, it's a tough bird for Germans to oppose.
- Admiral Goosk wings his way to Naziland with bomb and carries boomerang to insure safe return. Bombs indicate number of completed bombing missions; the yellow ones are for the night visitations, white ones for daylight forays against the Axis.
- Lancaster I shows an inline-engined powered Lancaster. From "Lancaster Production" article [ HTML ] in Flying magazine.
- "Britain's Ground Crews Batter Germany's War Plants" [ HTML ] includes 4 photos:.
- The two news clips below, from a couple of months apart, show how confusing original sources can become. The first identifies a modified Lancaster as a York (operated by TCA), while the second says "Incidentally, York is not to be confused with converted Lancaster transports, such as currently employed by TCA."
- A news clip photo from December, 1943, "Lancaster II" shows a radial-engined powered Lancaster.
From the "Have You Seen?" column in Flying magazine.
- Labeled photo of Lancaster I showing crew positions.
From "Sixty Minutes in the Avro Lancaster" [ HTML ].
- Yearbook entries from 1944 show
- Yearbook entries for 1945 show
- a Lancaster III in flight from 10 o'clock
- a York I on the ground from 9 o'clock,
both with dimensioned 3-view line drawings.
- In-flight photo of a Lancaster I, seen from 10 o'clock high.
Preface to "Allies vs Japan" [ HTML ]
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for March, 1946, had two detail drawings:
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for April, 1946, had two detail drawings of the landing gear:
- An A V Roe ad shows a Lancaster from 2 o'clock high.
The ad states that "from 1942 to 1945 two-thirds of all the bombs dropped by Bomber Command were dropped by Avro Lancasters."
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for June, 1946, had two detail drawings:
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for October, 1946, had two detail drawings: