So Why the Lancaster?

For the past 70 years, the Lancaster bomber has always been in the limelight, whether in films or in the Battle of Britain memorial flight. Indeed it is often seen and heard passing overhead the towns of Britain as it goes from place to place, ensuring it takes part in remembering the heroic sacrifice of those who died. In August, we shall see the two bombers coming together (the other from Canada) to fly together for the first time since the war over Britain. However during the Second World War, it was one of the last Bombers produced and certainly can be debated whether or not it was the most effective Bomber Britain had.

Of course the controversy of Bomber Command’s raids on cities such as Dresden and Hamburg has caused the crewman to be rejected by society and politicians, however in recent years; attitudes are changing, with people remembering their sacrifice. Lincolnshire and Yorkshire have ensure that their memory lives us, with various monuments located at each of the airfields. The raids themselves are often questioned, but it must be remembered that the cities all held important industrial significance. The men followed orders set by the politicians, and have suffered because of that.

Nonetheless it meant that only the Lancaster has been seen, mainly due to the famous Dam Buster Raids, in which the pilots flew at 60ft to ensure that their famous bouncing bombs would breach the damns. The raid drastically improved British moral and had an important lasting impact on German war industry, with a large amount men diverted to fix the damns. In recent years the raids significance has grown and is now accepted as extremely important. The heroic sacrifice of the men, should never be criticised, however, the Bomber itself was only one of many planes used by the crews of Bomber Command. Nonetheless this raid has immortalised the bomber and it has become the figured of Bomber Command.

The Lancaster Bomber was also immortalised by its lasting service, the other bombers were gone from service from 1945-9, whilst the last Lancaster flew with Coastal Command until 1955. Its lasting legacy caught the attention of the news readers and its last flight was recorded by the news reels.

Along with the Lancaster Bomber, there was the Halifax heavy bomber, which flew alongside the famous Lancaster during the war. This plane has been argued by many of the Bomber crew as better than the Lancaster, especially when fitted with the Bristol Hercules Engines, which allowed better climb. The old Engines used to glow in the dark which caused a problem with night flying. The fact is with the new and improved engines, the plane seemed to be better, and gave the crewman a better chance of survival. The Halifax offered a better chance of survival, as it was easier to escape from.

Bomber Command also had planes such as the heavy bomber Sterling, along with the Medium Bombers of Wellington, Hampden, Blenheim’s and Whitley’s. All these planes played a crucial role in the war effort. However not many people have heard of them. Their crews would argue that they were generally wonderful aircraft and were very attached to them. Yet none of them survive, only two Lancaster’s are airworthy and a third can taxy, however none of the other Bombers have survived after the war. They have been largely forgotten and have been left to the history books and historians to write about.

Britain after the Second World War scrapped all of the bombers, and destroyed the history that is now sorely missed. Along with the bases of bomber command which are now mainly in ruin, the bombers are forgotten. Mainly pilots of todays Jet era often state that this was the golden era of aviation, such a shame that Britain destroyed it.

Therefore, the Lancaster has remained in popular memory due to the Dam Busters raid and its lasting legacy after the war, the other Bombers were forgotten about. They were not treated the same way that tanks are today for example. Tanks have attracted the interest of thousands of keen amateur historians who can visit them in museums, and watch them in action, and know every single one off by heart; even in this day. Bombers have been forgotten, due to their controversy, although their beauty is still shown by the Lancaster, which fly’s for all the Bomber crewman lost during the war, and remembering their sacrifice is more important than debating what aircraft should represent them.

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2 thoughts on “So Why the Lancaster?

  1. A fantastic article which clearly shows your interest in the topic. I would say, if you wanted to see a Wellington then you should head to Brooklands Museum in Surrey. Sadly its not in any state to fly; they found it at the bottom of Loch Ness after a training mission went wrong but they are working on restoring it.

    1. Many Thanks! I have a great interest in aviation history and how history is remembered so I had to write about it! They are working on restoring an old blenheim in East Kirkby. There is also a Halifax in York, but it was made from two separate planes, and will never fly! It will be interesting to learn about the crew, it is always sad to read about accidents and the deaths of these men.
      I recently managed to be able to sit in a Lancaster bomber’s pilots seat, I was amazed by everything I saw. These guys were a similar stature to me, yet somehow managed to lift these aircraft off the ground. It is amazing how they did it, being 19-22 years old, incredible. I am trying to figure out how they did not go deaf, these aircraft were extremely loud, I stood next to one only taxing, its the loudest thing I’ve heard, Imagine 1000 flying, I don’t know how they truly coped!.

      Thanks for the comment, Much appreciated!

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