Talk:Avro Lancaster

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I'll flesh this stub out tonight when I have reference books handy. Unless Maurie beats me to it, of course.

Machine guns[edit]

Somebody wrote the Lancaster has 10 machine guns, but I count only 8. Feel free to change it back if someone knows better. DJ Clayworth 19:13, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Some versions did carry 10 machine guns (.303 and .50 cal Brownings mix) in four turrets. Some only had three turrets (and some only two) with .303s only. Moriori 19:48, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
The armament to some extent depends on when during the war you are talking about. The Lancaster, (and Halifax) as-designed, had a mid-under 'turret' * with two .303 Brownings, (the Stirling had a retractable 'dustbin' type) but as the aircraft was subsequently used mostly at night the 'turret' was at first removed and later not fitted at the factory, the aperture being faired-over - the turret was discontinued because the optical sighting system (designed for daytime use) was unusable at night, it not being possible to see anything through it making the turret just useless weight (this was also why RAF 100 Group special-duties B-17 Flying Fortresses had the Sperry ball turrets removed, as the visibility from the turret at night was almost nil) The mounting position was later used to fit the H2S radar scanner.
* This 'turret' should not be confused with the guns fitted on some squadrons later in the war to deal with the threat of the Schräge Musik attacks - these were usually fitted in apertures cut in the fuselage floor and used the normal sights fitted to the gun, and consequently had a much better view in low light conditions.
BTW, the 14,000lb 'normal' bomb load figure usually given is a 'brochure' one for an aircraft with the mid-under turret and all the designed armour fitted. When the turret was deleted and most of the armour removed * (the Luftwaffe night fighters were using such heavy cannon armament by this time that the additional armour was again, just useless weight) this allowed the bomb load to be increased. During the course of the war the Maximum Take-Off Weight was increased to first 63,000lb, then 65,000lb, and by 1943/4 the aircraft's MTOW had been further increased to 68,000lb and the maximum bomb load was by then 18,000lb, which accounts for this figure sometimes being given. Incidentley, this is why Harris spoke of (paraphrase) 'continuingly increasing the load without breaking the camel's back' of the Lancaster.
(Grand Slam Lancasters were loaded to 72,000lb and had to be flown 'carefully' until the load had gone)
* The only armour that was retained was the armour plate directly behind the pilot's seat and the armoured doors in the fuselage.
Ian Dunster 14:24, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Doubly hampered?[edit]

It says this: "The resultant aircraft was the Avro Manchester, a disappointing aircraft that was doubly hampered by the unreliable engines"

I hate to nitpick (well, alright, I don't really) but if the duff engines are the first - er - hamperation, what's the other one? I mean I do understand it was hampered by engine reliability but I don't see how it got doubly hampered. Can someone please enlighten me? Otherwise I think it needs either an explanation of what the other hamperoidality is, or the "doubly" taking out. Nevilley 16:24, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

PS The first person to say "ah well you see it was doubly hampered 'cos it had two engines" gets a slap round the head for being silly. Ow!

At the risk of a slap, I think the problem was that it had two engines rather than four, even if the Lancaster's four were individually less powerful--Doctormonkey 19:33, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, but, with the greatest respect, the point to which this query from 24/4/04 refers was fixed by an edit on 13/4/05, and the question of the "double hamperation" was never resolved and is not by this edit on 2/12/06. 01:33, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
At the risk of a slap, I have to agree with Doctormonkey, more or less. The hamperations (ouch) were 2 engines that weren't sufficient for the task, besides being devilishly unreliable, where the Lanc had 4 less-powerful (but more total than 2 Manchester) & reliable. Trekphiler 15:42, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
The Manchester was not a bad design but it had its limitations in ceiling and performance such that it would probably have become obsolete fairly soon even if it hadn't been withdrawn due to the unreliable and under-power Vulture engines. The same would probably have proved true for the original Handley Page twin-engined design to the same specification. The Handley Page design later became the four-engined Halifax.
The Vultures were designed to ultimately provide around 2,000hp each but due to lack of time for development, due to more pressing need for more power from the Merlin during the Battle of Britain, the Vulture had not received the attention that was really needed to bring the power up and iron out the problems before it entered service. In effect, it had been 'put on the back-burner' for a considerable time, and this meant that it was really in too early a stage of development when introduced in the Manchester.
Rolls-Royce engines were conservatively rated, meaning that if they stated that an engine design would provide, say, 1,000hp, then they really meant that they thought they could probably actually get 1,250-1,500hp out of the design if needed. With the Vulture they hadn't had the time to get the engine reliable at powers above around 1,250hp. The engine was immature when it entered service on the Manchester and had not really reached the stage of development to be usable when it was finally cancelled. If it had been peacetime it is unlikely that the Vulture would have been cleared for operational use. Rolls-Royce were pretty confidant they could fix the problems (lubrication/big end failures and being down on power) given time but they were told to discontinue the Vulture as the Merlin was already producing the same power with the promise of much more to come. BTW, the other engines intended to supplement the Vulture in the 2,000hp range were the Napier Sabre and the Bristol Centaurus, and these were not developed to be really useful until later in the war.
The strange serendipitous thing is that the re-design to use four Merlins made it (the Manchester) into an aeroplane that few people had any harsh words for. Pilots loved it, and so did most crew members. When Roy Chadwick watched the prototype Manchester Mk III (Lancaster) taking off for the first time he exclaimed; "Boy oh boy, what an aeroplane, what a piece of aeroplane!" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:02, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

Oh really?[edit]

"Unlike the Halifax, it was not used during the war for duties other than bombing."

I took this line out as I recently seen a programme on BBC that stated Lancasters took part in Operation Manna where food was dropped in Holland for the civilian population, and footage proved that they did.Escobar600ie 19:18, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

I think what the writer meant was that unlike the Stirling and Halifax there was no cargo/transport version of the Lancaster. The Stirling and Halifax were both produced in cargo versions (the Halifax transport was called the Halton) and both were also used as glider tugs, but the Lancaster was only used for the purposes of bombing - I suppose if one wants to be pedantic one could say that dropping food to the Dutch in Operation Manna was a form of bombing, albeit a friendly one! Ian Dunster 13:52, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, no. The Lancastrian (Avro 691) originated in Canada (Canadayay!Canada) in 1942. It was used as a VIP transport (by Churchill, as I recall). I should also mention Stirling, Halifax, Hampden, & Lanc were all used for mining ("Gardening"). TrekphilerCanada 15:58 & 16:22, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Lancasters were also used to conduct a wide variety of experiments, particularly related to both weapons and engine systems.NiD.29 (talk) 05:34, 5 April 2012 (UTC)

Contextual background?[edit]

The article could really do with a little more contextual analysis:- how it compared to other heavy bombers of the time, its relative effectiveness, strengths, weaknesses in campaigns etc etc.Simmyymmis 02:36, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Soviet Lancasters[edit]

Found this web page: [1] with a story about two repaired Lancs serving with the Soviet Union after Operation Paravane. Also a mention in the text for Lancasters: [2]. Anyone confirm this? Folks at 137 10:01, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Info confirmed. I've read that article and saw photos. Vladimir Kotielnikov is well known researcher and whole story was confirmed by another researcher - Carl-Fredrik Geust - in his book from "Red Stars" series published by Apali Oy. Piotr Mikołajski 02:06, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Initial design request.[edit]

I'm a bit confused: the article states that the origins of the Lancaster lie in the design for a twin-engined heavy bomber submitted in response to a request for a twin-engined medium bomber? Did someone at Avro not understand what was wanted? I think a little tweaking is in order here. Red Sunset 18:32, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Avro Lancaster Image Gallery[edit]


I have started doing an aircraft image gallery(hobby project) and I think it will be useful to add a link to it here. I have tried this in the past but I broke some rules (you are not allowed to add links to your own website) so it was deleted by another user (

The solution, according to the 'external links' rules : is to "please consider mentioning it on the talk page and let neutral and independent Wikipedia editors decide whether to add it".

Avro Lancaster :

So please look over that page and if you think it is useful then add it, if not then just ignore this message.


Best wishes

Nekhbet 09:03, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Survivors - new article?[edit]

Hi all,

What does everyone think about moving the "Survivors" section to a completely new article? I see in the peer review that in its current form it was thought to make the article unbalanced. Replacing it with a short section such as "there are around 17 known Lancaster survivors. For more details see..." would seem to be a good solution. EddieWalters 19:26, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Cut down the section, but that's not the real problem with this article- it needs more sourced information. I would leave the section as is since there are only two flying Lancasters and a dozen and a half more survivors. Bzuk 20:24 23 February 2007 (UTC).
There are actually (depending on how you count it!) up to 26 surviving Lancasters. This includes a few aircraft that are just parts (ranging from cockpit sections that are on display to aircraft that are just components - but there are around 17 complete airframes. The section as it is at the moment is very incomplete. See for a list of surviving Lancs.EddieWalters 23:27, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree there is too much information on survivors with 900 words out of approximately 3000 words devoted to a small number of aircraft. My contention is that for a influential aircraft such as the Lancaster, there should be a larger, more referenced article, much akin to the P-51 and P-38 articles. How about setting about to increase the article to a major work, and still chop down the Lancaster survivor section. Bzuk 23:47, 23 February 2007 (UTC).
What is most unbalanced, I feel, is that the two remaining flying Lancasters - one of which has just flown at a low altitude over my house, which is why I'm looking on here! - have very few details compared to those that are not flying. I think a seperate article would be a good idea, particularly if it could include more details about the two flying aircraft. Tim (Xevious) 14:48, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Mark designations[edit]

I just edited the mark designations to "B.I" etc, and I have just realised I was incorrect! While those are commonly used designations, two reliable sources refer to them as "Mk" or "Mark" - those sources being the upper left hand corner of Avro factory drawings (eg D1629 - "GA of Fuselage" has "Manchester", followed by "Lancaster Mk I & II"), and the Air Ministry Pilot's notes. Sorry for the erroneous "correction".EddieWalters 22:53, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

The full wording of 'Mark' was used early in the war but this was changed to signify the purpose of the aircraft sometime mid-war - see British military aircraft designation systems, so the 'B' signified that it was a bomber, the Mark number being reduced to just the numeral itself. Mark numbers initially used Roman numerals but just after WW II they were changed to Arabic numerals, so you may see a Lancaster X being referred-to as a Lancaster 10, post-war. There's some more on typographical conventions used here: List of Air Ministry specifications
I wouldn't get too concerned about the format used, they varied over time, and I would generally just use the format that was contemporaneous with the period mentioned. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:44, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

VC Awards, Leonard Cheshire[edit]

I've added Cheshire to the list. However, I acknowledge that Cheshire did not specifically win his VC for "actions while flying the aircraft". Rather, his citation refers to his prolonged courage in the face of the enemy. Yet I think he should be included on the list, since he was famously associated with the Lancaster, and flew an extraordinary number of sorties in the aircraft, thereby earning his VC. --Corinthian 15:37, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

No-one "won" a VC, DSO, DFC etc - they were AWARDED for a particular reason and in the Case of Cheshire it was because he had consistently demonstrated bravery - though he admitted many times !I was scared to death but also oo scared to show it as he felt it was his duty to set an example." Other awards were usually of a single act of bravery and they were always announced and indeed still are as "HM the King is pleased to announce that Wing Commander Gibson has been awarded the Victoria Cross." To be awarded the decoration the recipient had to be recommended for the award. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:23, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Where to next?[edit]

Hi all,

Just a few idle thoughts on areas that could be improved in this article. I suggest that the operational history could be expanded somewhat - it seems remarkably short. Perhaps adding in sub-sections giving a run down of the Lancaster's role in the major phases of the Bomber Command campaign.

Also, perhaps there should be a "notable crewmembers" section. Offhand I can't think of any well known people who were Lancaster crewmembers, but there must be quite a list! Another section that could be added is "notable Lancasters" - eg 100+ ops aircraft, ED932 (Gibson's aircraft on the Dams raid), etc.

I will try and help develop the article, but I just thought it might be worth putting a few ideas out there and seeing what others thought? Any other ideas on this? I think the survivors section is now reasonably complete, and I don't want to expand any further as I think it will lead to an unbalanced article.

EddieWalters (talk) 02:06, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I concur that the article can use some detail in some sections, especially in the "Operational history" and definitely agree that the "Survivors" section is long enough (maybe too long already but...). As to new areas to explore, a brief (I did say brief) mention of the many one-offs and special test aircraft may be appropriate. FIW Bzuk (talk) 02:27, 19 November 2007 (UTC).
is it me or is there no mention in the survivors section of the completely rebuilt Avro Lancaster MkVII NX611 at The East Kirby Aviation Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire, Uk  ? (talk) 20:57, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I presume you have read the bit under Surviving aircraft under the heading Lancaster B VII NX611 Just Jane ! MilborneOne (talk) 22:40, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I have a comment about the last paragraph of the first section. It's written that Alex Henshaw is the only person known to have barrel rolled a Lancaster and that that is "a feat considered almost impossible because of the slow speed of the aircraft." I have a couple of comments. First, I should let you know that I am a pilot and have a commercial pilot's license, though that is not what I do for a living. Among my flying experiences I have had aerobatic instruction and have several hundred hours flying aerobatics and I've owned an aerobatic aircraft. One of the things about a barrel roll is that one can do it in almost any aircraft. It can be done so that it places very little stress on the airframe - less even than a 60 degree banked turn. It can be done without the passengers noticing if they do not happen to be looking out of the window. One can barrel roll very slow and underpowered aircraft with the right technique. Piper Cubs and Boeing 707s can be barrel rolled and there is plenty of documentary evidence that it has been done. That does not mean it's advisable. If you mess it up, you may put a lot of stress on the airframe (beyond what it can take) recovering from the resulting dive or spin. The data panel in the article says that the Lancaster's maximum speed was 240 knots - that is not slow. Ample to barrel roll it. I would be happy to try to barrel roll a Lancaster. So I disagree with the comment that it is a "feat considered almost impossible." My other objection is to the part of the sentence that claims Alex Henshaw is the only person known to have done it. I knew well a former Lancaster pilot. He was still in the Royal Air Force when I first met him. He knew my family for years. He told me that he had barrel rolled a Lancaster with his crew in it and that half of the crew did not notice but that one of those who had had been very angry about it. He flew 35 missions in WW2 and was awarded the DFC. He was a modest man. The way in which he told me about the barrel roll, and some of the details in his story, coupled with my knowledge of aerobatics and aircraft make me inclined to believe that the man I knew had barrel rolled a Lancaster and that probably other pilots did too. All in all, I think it would be best if that sentence were removed, both because I do not think it is "impossible" to barrel roll a Lancaster, and because I do not think Henshaw was the only person to do so.Leonidas2008 (talk) 23:27, 25 March 2008 (UTC)Leonidas2008
Its sufficient that the statement is sourced and cited. I would say though that this fact is not particulary relelvant to the article. Relevant to Henshaws article but not to service operations of the Lanc. GraemeLeggett (talk) 12:00, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with GraemeLeggett: it is not particularly relevant and that is a good enough reason to remove it. Leonidas2008 (talk) 17:33, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
I removed the reference to Henshaw's barrel roll claim as GraemeLeggett agrees it's not relevant and nobody else objected. If I broe anyhting then I apologize.

Leonidas2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Leonidas2008 (talkcontribs) 20:17, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

The Lancaster's Vne was 360mph and that was only because the bomb aimers vision panel in the floor was likely to blow-in under the force of the airstream if this speed was exceeded. They had been dived at over 400mph without other structural damage, as long as the pull-out was gentle and you didn't use the rudders too harshly - using the rudders too violently in a high-speed dive could strain the tail unit/rear fuselage attachment bolts, resulting in a slightly 'bent' airframe. Henshaw mentions often rolling Lancasters he was flight testing in his book Sigh for a Merlin. Based at Castle Bromwich testing Spitfires and Lancasters he had a Czech fellow-test pilot as an observer on some of the tests and he would stand alongside Henshaw in the cockpit, and Henshaw would say something like 'Have a seat' and then completely roll the aircraft, whereupon the G would force the other pilot down into the flight engineers jump seat. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:13, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Some years ago when I was serving in the Royal Air Force as an Air Electronics Officer, I met a pilot who had flown Lancaster's operationally and several members of his crew, who all assured me that on three different occasions the evasive action they took against enemy fighters had been a barrel roll twice at night and once at dawn. I also have a very dear friend who was a "Tail End Charlie" flew in Lancasters and also in Path Finder Force, who lives near Alicante in Spain, who also was barrel rolled and I have no reason to doubt his account either as he is very reluctant to talk but airmen being airmen we end up yarning about flying. My partners father sadly deceased now also was a tail end charlie in PFF and he came out five times on the silk, three times into "the drink." To me "Heroes every man jack of them." My own "hero" also wore a blue suit but served as a Wireless Operator in the RAF Y service. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:39, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Most Famous?[edit]

became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, What about the B-29? Maybe change to 'night bombers on the European front' Identity0 (talk) 15:51, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Well certainly on the European front the B-29 did not fly night missions, they were flying (almost) exclusively daytime missions. So was the B-29 best known for specialising in night missions in the Pacific war theatre? 21stCenturyGreenstuff (talk) 15:59, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Concur with Greenstuff. No disrespect intended, but B-29s flew night missions for a relatively brief period, and except for the distance involved they were hardly the grimmest or most dangerous operations of the war. In contrast, Lanc's went out night after night for almost three years over the most heavily defended targets of the war. The grimness of those missions, the losses incurred, the incredible courage and endurance of those crews all give credence to the "most famous night bomber" claim. Jack McHugh (talk) 13:22, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Not to pick the nit, but how can we verify that the Lancaster was the most famous night bomber. I.e. WP:V. I agree that the B-29 was primarily a day-light bomber. However I disagree on what was the most dangerous operations of the war. My understanding is that British mostly conducted night-time raids as they didn't have the number of airmen that Americans did, and consequentially could not risk loosing them during more dangerous daylight attacks (when enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns could more easily spot and engage the bombers). Night time attacks had the disadvantage of decreased accuracy. However, I do agree that anything at night is generally more grim than during the day. Personally I think that the Lancaster was the most famous British bomber of WW2, and consequentially the most famous nighttime bomber. But no WP:OR and all of that jazz. (talk) 17:39, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually, after looking at the B-29 Superfortress article, it appears that the B-29 did more night time bombing (primarily indiscriminate firebombing against Japan) than daylight bombing during WW2. Certainly in the European front it was primarily a daylight bomber, and probably didn't get as much British or Canadian press as a nighttime bomber as the Lancaster did. (talk) 17:52, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
As far as I know the B-29 did not operate in Europe so cant really be compared, should really need a source for the most famous in the European theatre. Just a note I dont think the Brits did night raids because they feared loosing men it was just the Americans had better armed aircraft for use in daylight raids so Bomber Command concentated on the night work. MilborneOne (talk) 18:39, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
The American bombers had better defensive armament but much smaller bomb loads - usually half to one-third that of an RAF 'heavy' for the same target. The RAF could have increased the defensive armaments of its bombers, but only at the expense of either the bomb load or fuel load (i.e., range). Operations research (OR) calculated that to increase the defensive armament would reduce the size of the bomb loads (the range cannot be reduced unless you want to stop bombing targets you have already been bombing) so that the aircraft would then have to make a greater number of sorties in order to cause the same amount of damage to a particular target. This would increase the collective chances of any individual aircraft being lost on a raid, so in the long run, would not result in any improvement in losses. OR actually wanted to get the RAF to remove almost ALL the defensive armament from its 'heavies, as it was discovered (from reports smuggled out from POW camps in Germany) that most losses were due to night fighters and that most of the crews of these shot-down bombers had never even seen the fighter that attacked them (the operations were by then being carried out on nights with no moon, over a Europe that was completely blacked out, so that the only artificial lights you might see anywhere would be the lights of Sweden or Switzerland - that's if you were flying to near to these countries and were high enough. Usually, the only light available would be starlight and the light from the fires over the target area, plus the searchlights the Germans were using to try and locate the bombers) They therefore could not have used any defensive armament anyway, so as this was by far the greatest causer of losses, the weight taken-up in the armament would be better used in increasing the bomb loads or aircraft range and reducing the amount of aircraft sorties it took to achieve the required damage to the targets. This BTW, was why the bombers still carried the same 'puny' .303 rifle calibre machine guns, at least until the two-gun 0.5 in tail turrets were introduced post war, as the increased weight of the upgraded turrets would have reduced the available bomb loads whilst not significantly reducing losses - perhaps contrary to logic. Generally, when the aircraft were being sent over in such large numbers in the Bomber stream, evasion was much more effective than trying to fight-off an attacker, much better if you could stop him finding you in the first place - hence No. 100 Group RAF This is all also one of the reasons why no British bomber has carried any defensive armament since - not the Canberra, Vulcan, Victor or Valiant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:29, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

According to the USAF "...NO B29's the "Super Fortress" were used at any stage in the European theater of operations. The USAAF did use B17's - the "Flying Fortress," from when it became operational to the end of hostilities flying from bases mostly in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk..." So there you are NO B29's flew at all during WW2 in Europe. They did AFTER the war in th far east ended!

The Lancaster carried the largest conventional explosive bomb load of all aircraft during world war two the Grand Slam bomb, which was intended to be dropped from about 60,000 feet. The B17's could not carry such a large bomb-load. If you read the book "The Dam Busters" by Paul Brickhill, there is an account of a conversation involving Barnes Wallis, Roy Chardwick and the Avro design team. Barnes Wallis asks Chadwick could the Lancaster carry a heavier bomb load than that it was currently carrying. Chadwick affirmed it could and by this means Wallis managed to get Chadwick that the Lancaster could carry a ten ton bomb - the Grand Slam. Handley Page Halifaxes would have needed a redesign of the wing, wing spar, under carriage, engines and other factors. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:13, 17 April 2012 (UTC)


The Lanc and other British bombers did not have a position for a co-pilot, while U.S. and German designs did. What was the reason for this? Drutt (talk) 11:13, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

The lancaster had a fold down "dickey seat" beside the pilot that the flight engineer could sit on to work the engine throttles for him so the flight engineer is sometimes decribed as a co-pilot. In the dambusters raid, the flight engineer was responsible for maintaining the speed while the pilot followed instructions of the bomb-aimer and wireless operator for direction and height respectivelyGraemeLeggett (talk) 11:32, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
picture on this page shows the Manchester's flight position with a second yoke fitted for a co-pilot to operate, and I've seen pictures of the BoB Memorial Flight Lanc with one in use. GraemeLeggett (talk) 12:00, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

More detail on this:

  • The B-17, B-24, B-25, B-29, A-26 had dual controls, but the A-20 (Boston) and Hudson did not (I couldn't find images of the A-22 and A-30).
  • The Ju-52, He-111, Fw-200 had them, the Ju-88, Me-264, Do-17, He-177, Ar-234 did not (I could not find pictures of the Ju-86, Ju-90)
  • The Stirling had them, but the Halifax, Lancaster, Mosquito, Hampden, Whitley, Blenheim, Wellington did not

Not sure if there was some deliberate pattern to this. Drutt (talk) 23:01, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

At one time all the RAF's 'heavy' bombers had been intended to have two pilots and IIRC both the early Wellingtons and the Stirling had two, however the Lancaster flew so well that it was thought that a single pilot was well able to carry the workload, and also at around the time of its introduction the RAF was introducing the post of Flight Engineer, to handle such things as fuel management, throttles, engine synchronisation, etc,. and if was felt difficult to justify the use of a second fully-trained bomber pilot when all that was now needed was a pilot and a flight engineer. A Flight Engineer didn't require the full and time-consuming flying training that an RAF pilot did, as training for both day and night flying took approximately twice as long as for training a pilot only required to fly by day. This had the added advantage of increasing the number of pilots available for the then-enlarging Bomber Command.
The Manchester and Lancaster had the access to the Air Bomber's (bomb aimer's) position in the nose under the instrument panel where the co-pilot would normally be so that complicated matters. The Lancaster's dual controls were an optional 'add-on' for pilot training and could be fitted to any Lancaster, the additional control column (wheel) being attached to the back of the pilot's wheel on a bar that extended out from behind the wheel, and the rudder pedals being similarly linked from the pilots ones IIRC - the BofB Flight just has it fitted all the time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:41, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

The BBMF Lancaster PA474, has a co-pilots position and when photographs of the cockpit showing this are published, it is wrongly, assumed that ALL Lancaster bombers were so equipped. They were not. Seven men - Pilot, Flight Engineer, Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer, Wireless Operator who was often expected to double as the MUG, Navigator, Mid-Upper Gunner - MUG!, and Tail end Charlie - the Rear Gunner. The co-pilot in the BBMF was a requirement I believe of the Civil Aviation Authority post war. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:45, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

YouTube videos[edit]

We have a large number of YouTube video links in this article, should they be deleted, pruned I am sure not all of them add value to the article. This is an encyclopedia not a video directory. Thoughts? MilborneOne (talk) 17:04, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

No comments so I have removed them under WP:SILENCE. MilborneOne (talk) 20:20, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Sir sir please sir I have a comment: good move! Cheers DisillusionedBitterAndKnackered (talk) 21:14, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

London - Bermuda[edit]

"one aircraft was flown non-stop 3,355 mi (5,399 km) from London to Bermuda" (?) I make it more like 3,455 miles. Unless, perhaps, they took off from 100 miles west of London. : ) Nit. AMCKen (talk) 14:31, 21 May 2009 (UTC)AMCKen

Just a typo, I have corrected it to 3459 miles.MilborneOne (talk) 15:01, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Rear turret - no room for a parachute[edit]

I added this detail based on the story of Nicholas Alkemade and visual inspection of the aircraft at Oshkosh 2009. Is that original research? It may be, and perhaps a better citation can be found. The information does add value for encyclopedia users, however: Anything that conveys the grimness of the missions flown by Lancs and the other RAF night bombers is an important part of this aircraft's story. Jack McHugh (talk) 13:13, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

I'm revising this note as first of all it is incorrect, the rear gunners did wear parachutes, only when the space was limited were the parachutes taken off. A hook near the turret doors was where the parachute was often (but not always stored). FWiW, see the story of Andrew Mynarski for a better illustration of the rear gunner with no parachute. Bzuk (talk) 13:48, 2 August 2009 (UTC).
RAF and Commonwealth pilots all wore seat-type parachutes which fitted into the standard pilot's bucket seat, whilst the other crew members all wore chest-fitted removable parachutes. The parachute pack clipped-on to the harness at the front (chest) and only needed to be attached immediately before jumping. For confined rear turrets the pack was sometimes stored outside the turret in the fuselage, the gunner only needing to reach behind him to open the two rear doors of the turret and reach into the fuselage. Where the tail gunner stowed his parachute depended on personal preference and to some extent, on his physical size.
The internal dimensions of the Lancaster and its turrets was somewhat wanting in terms of space, as when the basic aircraft had been designed (as the Manchester) the normal flying clothing was limited to perhaps a Sidcot suit and a parachute. With the increasing later use of such apparel as Irvin jackets and Mae Wests and other impedimenta the average crew member became a much bulkier figure, leading to difficulties in exiting the aircraft in an emergency, the dimensions of the escape hatches remaining unchanged. This possibly accounts for the higher crew losses for the Lancaster compared to the Halifax, which was also much roomier inside. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:23, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

There was another reason why most rear gunners survived and many crew didn't. Most of the escape hatches were on the upper surfaces of the fuselage. Reason - The Air Ministry didn't want the crew baling out the moment the aircraft came under attack - what an indictment of the bravery of the crew and is the same attitude that delayed the introduction of the parachute into the RFC / RAF in World War I. The other reason was economical - it was cheaper to repair a damaged bomber than build a new one. Still one wonders if the crews had had access to the bomb bay like the Luftwaffe crews did, how many would have lived instead of being trapped. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:52, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

The recommended parachute exit for the Lancaster was the escape hatch in the floor of the nose at the air bomber's position, this was because this was the least risky option as-regards the escaping occupant hitting a part of the aircraft structure. The emergency exits on the top of the fuselage - three, one in the canopy immediately above the pilot, the other two in the fuselage roof further back) were intended for use when ditching or landing without the undercarriage, e.g., a belly landing. RAF policy was for the bomber's pilot to remain at the controls during a parachute abandonment of the aircraft so as to keep the aircraft under control while the other crew members bailed out. Once the crew had gone then he was free to make his own escape. This delay in ensuring that the other crew members got out is perhaps the more likely reason why so few Lancaster pilots survived, although the altitude flown-at and the type of attack suffered would also have a bearing on this. Apart from being much more roomy inside, Halifaxes tended to separate into their component sections if exploding/disintegrating, so pilots were sometimes thrown out or left with little of the aircraft to escape-from.
Incidentally, this 'pilot last' policy was the reason that in the V-bombers only the pilots had ejection seats - they were intended to increase the time the pilots could remain in the aircraft keeping it under some sort of control allowing the other crew members to get out, before leaving themselves - perhaps at the last minute with the damaged aircraft by then in a dive at high speed. Later, ejection seat capabilities increased beyond that of just getting a person out of the aircraft.
While what you say about the Air Ministry policy not wanting the crew to bail out may be correct it is perhaps worth bearing in mind that providing the crew agreed on it, there was nothing stopping a 'windy' crew from simply flying out over the North Sea, jettisoning their bombs, and then 'stooging around' for the remainder of the time, and then returning with the homecoming bombers as-normal. Apart from a lack of a bombing photograph, which could be excused as a simple camera failure, no-one would ever know. That so few did this should at least give one some idea of the type of character that the RAF and Commonwealth aircrew possessed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:09, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

What is said about AM policy on bailing out is correct. As regards your comments about jettisoning their bomb load and returning with the returning bombers - never mind the lack of AP's what about the lack of damage to the aircraft! Crews would have sooner or later let something slip and the cat would have been out of the bag. I also (as ex-aircrew) find that remark offensive and an insult to the bravery of the bomber crews. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:38, 24 July 2014 (UTC)


Just to note I have been WP:BOLD and moved the information on surviving aircraft to a sub-article List of surviving Avro Lancasters. MilborneOne (talk) 19:03, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Excellent idea. DBaK (talk) 20:29, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Lincoln-style rudders. Who they?[edit]

Hi. We say "A number of ASR 3 conversions were fitted with Lincoln-style rudders" but we don't actually explain what these might be when they are all at home. Nor does the Avro Lincoln article. So it's not really a brilliantly informative sentence as it stands; the reference very usefully takes me to "Franks 2000, p. 87" where the trail suddenly goes cold as I do not have Mr (or Ms or Lord or Archbishop or Wg Cdr) Franks' fine work so I don't even know if he explains it, or just makes the same gnomic utterance. Can some kindly soul please enlighten me and 88 million other readers, all agog for this crucial information? Thanks! :) DBaK (talk) 06:42, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

IIRC, the Lincoln rudders had an enlarged trim tab, which can also be seen on some later Lancasters. It was to take some of the heavy foot-load off when flying at increased weights with an engine out, IIRC. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:47, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

It wasn't just the trim tab - the Lincoln type rudders can be easily identified by the squared off bottom.NiD.29 (talk) 05:34, 5 April 2012 (UTC)

"An hydraulic"[edit]

Hi. I am not sure about the change to "An hydraulic", which was recently made by I have reverted it - is there something in the MoS about this issue, or something? Thanks DBaK (talk) 21:31, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Agreed, usage is explained here [3]. Spoken in a Cockney accent it would be used as the 'Hy' would be pronounced 'eye' due to H-dropping, in 'Oxford English' it would be pronounced 'high'. So in Cockney we would have 'an eyedraulic system' and in Oxford use it would be 'a highdraulic system'. Editors from the London area might think it is correct to write it as the first version, and I'm guilty of using it that way in spoken language at times!! Cheers Nimbus (Cumulus nimbus floats by) 21:51, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
This is an age-old conundrum that deals with phonetic versus written language. There are two issues here; the first being the sounding out of a weakly pronounced "h." The traditionalists, myself included, would precede it with "an"; others, and this is increasingly preferred by a younger generation that sees rather than sounds out words, they would precede it with "a." The second question is how you yourself pronounce "historian." In general, words in which the "h" has been dropped have been shifting toward having it pronounced strongly, but only you know how you pronounce this one. If you drop the "h" entirely when saying "historian," then precede it with "an." If you pronounce it with a strongly stressed "h," then use "a." If you pronounce it with a very faint "h," then do whatever seems more natural. FWiW, I vote for "an hydraulic system." Bzuk (talk) 22:10, 26 September 2009 (UTC).

RAF-RNoAF-rank-crewing-WWII query[edit]

Hello. With apologies for the x-posting to a couple of Talk pages, if you're knowledgeable on this subject could you please have a very quick look at Talk:Finn Varde Jespersen and see if you can help with either of my small queries there? No big deal but would be nice. Thanks and best wishes DBaK (talk) 09:36, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Most famous and most successful?[edit]

I agree that tonnage dropped could be a measurable factor, but "famous" is sheer POV. I've always thought the B-17 was the most famous - but neither can be proved to be/have been more famous. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 04:30, 3 January 2011 (UTC).

Decorative images?[edit]

With the plethora of images available on the Lancaster, the use of photographs as "decoration" should be avoided. Comments? FWiW Bzuk (talk) 16:41, 24 December 2011 (UTC).

only for decor[edit]

hi, not only of course, but i thought: ---that is such a picture it deserves use in its main article; ---its a new pic i was searching for approprieate use for it; ---for my taste this article has waaaay too many modern color photos even exactly about the same aircraft. so if too much for anyone, im not against any revision of pics used and their arrangement, but keep the one i added pls!

also, as for nigel's comments, the original was sandwiched, not by me, i dont do such things myself, tho i have to add here there is not many space and also here it doesnt look bad, so here i say lets keep it that way; as for leftjustifying below caption... well it was the same... i think my pic better at top as the one now you reverted there is a detail image, while mine is a generic, (and even an early of that) maybe more suitable (imo) to the top generic textsection. back to lefting, i propose lets make an exception with that too. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aaa3-other (talkcontribs) 16:47, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

"this appear to be a response to the earlier statement (BTW, were images removed?)" - yes we were editing the same time, atcl hist summary said "see talk" but talk only had "mostfamous" as last sectn so i created. and there werent i just mentioned justincase sy'll do a major rework &decide to throw out some...
and yes it was response to statements on article's historie's summaries, these: "(general cleanup, mainly formatting, are we now putting in images mainly for "decoration"? See talk)" by you and "Nigel Ish Undid revision 467515212 by Aaa3-other - don't sandwich text between photos - don't place left aligned photos immediately under headings". --Aaa3-other | Talk | Contribs 17:46, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
Aaa3 seems to have an obsession with "beutypics", although I have explained, at length, Wikipedia's policy on the use of images I repeat, images are not used because they look nice or pretty or beautiful - they, and their captions, are meant to inform and be related directly to the subject at hand. Lame captions like "Three Avro Lancaster B.Is flying above the clouds..." are a waste of space. Min✪rhist✪rianMTalk 06:16, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
ok then someone will write a caption, i couldnt. and why attack my image and not the 999 restored ones, at the time of my edit half of them (not the turret closeup ones) were equally only there for generic illustration purposes and useless for anything more. i didnt want to decide which one to remove so let it to others. but a historic useless is better than a restored useless. the obsessed Aaa3-other | Talk | Contribs 17:39, 26 December 2011 (UTC) -- p.s.: now i see what did you do to de-lame my caption: i have deliberately left out the unit to keep it short of useless clutter (desc was very long, i quickly shortened), anyone who clicks can see all the circumstances of the photograph taken etc info. NOT to say i dispute your change, only to explain my captioning as a crude first step of adding the picture. u can do better->u will do better. beauty-picture i only use as a short edit summary so what? and if that pic shouldn't be used in a lanc article (was my assumption stupid?), then where (if any-~)?

Pictures should add to something to the article and not be just another airplane in the sky. Something should tie the photo in with the accompanying text so there is an obvious reason for its presence. I just redid the pictures as much as I could - there is a depressingly poor selection on wikimedia - for instance we need a better shot of the B II (that shows the engines clearly), a shot of the B VI, some post-war examples (particularly the FE and French versions), and a good shot of a Grand Slam Lanc. NiD.29 (talk) 02:59, 27 December 2011 (UTC)


According to the table "Performance" the Service ceiling is given as : 19,000 ft (5,792m). This is wrong. Lancaster bombers with a full bomb load could fly operationally at 25,000 feet (7620m )MAXIMUM Height. However, for operational reasons the flew lower because the main stream of bombers Stirling's, Halifaxes etc., were unable to fly at the same altitude. The Lancastrian "Star Dust" is known to have flown at about 22,000 feet (6705m) on it's ill fated flight and she could have flown higher. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:23, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Have to agree I have a reference that quotes ceiling as 24,500 feet and the Lancastrian at 30,000 feet, perhaps somebody can check the reference used in the article again. MilborneOne (talk) 15:27, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
    • Jackson definately says 19,000 ft (presumably for a heavily loaded aircraft) - the service ceiling will depend on what the actual weight of the aircraft is. Francis K Mason in The British Bomber since 1914 says 24,500 for an EMPTY aircraft. Denis Richard's The Hardest Victory quotes a service ceiling of 22,200 lb. Aircraft would also be able to reach higher altitudes than the service ceiling (i.e. 100 ft/min) if they are prepared to take long enough to get there.Nigel Ish (talk) 18:18, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Service ceiling was heavily dependant on variant and bomb load/max weight at target range. This reference: [4] (graph, p221) gives the service ceiling of a Mk III at 63000lb as approximately 24000ft (service ceiling equals altitude at which climb rate = 100ft/min) and the high altitude rated Mk VI had a service ceiling of ~28000ft at 65000lb. Of course actual aircraft would have higher service ceilings as they burnt off fuel, and an aircraft over Berlin would be ~6000lb lighter than at take off due to fuel burn, and would have a much higher ceiling as a result. Service Ceiling must always be defined according to aircraft type/variant and weight during test. The current wording states 19000ft as the service ceiling for the Mk I, but this figure is almost certainly for the aircraft at maximum overload weight of 72000lb (including a 22000lb gram slam bomb), and in-service aircraft would weigh less than these figures at target range. Profile Publications #65 gives the service ceiling of a Mk1 as 22000ft at 65000lb. Damwiki1 (talk)
The Secret Years, Mason, (p302) gives the ceiling of a Mk1 (aircraft W4963)with Merlin XX engines at 63000lbs as 21400ft. A Mk I (aircraft PB592) with Merlin 24 engines had a ceiling of 18600ft at 72000lbs including a 22000lb Grand Slam bomb.Damwiki1 (talk) 19:53, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Lancaster, defensive armament and lack of a ventral turret / Schräge Musik[edit]

"The statement that aircrew would be unlikely to realize that a Schräge Musik attack was taking place is inaccurate, countless operational reports indicated that survivors of that form of attack reported the specifics of the interception"
I didn`t think there were many crews which survived a Schräge Musik attack ! Furthermore I was under the impression it took Bomber Command a very long time to cotton on to the fact that many planes were being shot down in that way. Having a ventral gun turret is all very well, but you have to see the plane attacking you, and, more to the point, before it starts firing at you. If the crews only saw the plane below them once it`d started attacking it`d be too late. There are obvious problems with vision from a ventral turret (having to use periscopes etc) thus making the early observation of the attacking plane even more difficult (read unlikely). Actually there`s yet another reason why a ventral turret would be useless, it`d slow the Lancaster down even more, thus making it even easier to shoot down.--JustinSmith (talk) 21:08, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Dr. Freeman Dyson's 2006 article for MIT Technology Review Magazine confirms exactly what you say.
A Failure of Intelligence | By Freeman Dyson on November 1, 2006 | MIT Technology Review Magazine | November/December 2006
Page 4 of 6

...the crews tried to keep out of the bomber stream, because they were more afraid of collisions than of fighters. Every time they flew in the stream, they would see bombers coming close and almost colliding with them, but they almost never saw fighters. The German night fighter force was tiny compared with Bomber Command. But the German pilots were highly skilled, and they hardly ever got shot down. They carried a firing system called Schräge Musik, or “crooked music,” which allowed them to fly underneath a bomber and fire guns upward at a 60-degree angle. The fighter could see the bomber clearly silhouetted against the night sky, while the bomber could not see the fighter. This system efficiently destroyed thousands of bombers, and we did not even know that it existed. This was the greatest failure of the ORS. We learned about Schräge Musik too late to do anything to counter it...I later applied the same method of analysis to the question of whether experience helped crews to survive. Bomber Command told the crews that their chances of survival would increase with experience, and the crews believed it. They were told, After you have got through the first few operations, things will get better. This idea was important for morale at a time when the fraction of crews surviving to the end of a 30-­operation tour was only about 25 percent. I subdivided the experienced and inexperienced crews on each operation and did the analysis, and again, the result was clear. Experience did not reduce loss rates. The cause of losses, whatever it was, killed novice and expert crews impartially. This result contradicted the official dogma, and the Command never accepted it. I blame the ORS, and I blame myself in particular, for not taking this result seriously enough. The evidence showed that the main cause of losses was an attack that gave experienced crews no chance either to escape or to defend themselves. If we had taken the evidence more seriously, we might have discovered Schräge Musik in time to respond with effective countermeasures.

This is devastating for the official mythology of Bomber Command, and those who ignore Dr. Dyson's conclusions do so at their peril... Azx2 19:41, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
On an average moonless night over a totally blacked-out countryside one can't see anything below you, if you are lucky you can just see any aeroplanes above you by the blanking-out by them of the stars as they pass over you overhead. Once over the target with fires burning below then it becomes possible to see around you, and by this time the opposing night fighters are usually holding-off for fear of being hit by their own flak. Most RAF losses over the target were due to flak for this reason. Once the target had been bombed and the aircraft turned for home, they then flew back into relative obscurity (literally) and it became impossible to see anything again. That was why night fighters needed AI radar. Once within a few hundred yards then any attacking night fighter can see the silhouette of the bomber faintly against the stars overhead. From the bomber, the fighter approaching from below, against a totally dark background, i.e., the ground itself, cannot be seen even assuming excellent visibility, which was not possible with any feasible ventral turret. You can not get away from the problem of there not being enough light to see an attacker against a dark background.
It's very hard to convey to anyone who has never flown over a completely blacked out landscape below on a moonless night. It really is very dark. For people living today it needs to be born in mind that it never gets properly dark over an inhabited peacetime town or settlement, because for one thing the street lamps, etc., light up the ground around them, so flying over a modern city at night in peacetime is quite different from doing the same thing in wartime - astronomers term this lack of darkness today light pollution. In the conditions RAF Bomber Command were then flying in there was no artificial light from horizon-to-horizon as far as the eye can see. None. Flying over Occupied Europe the only lights you could have seen were the ones of Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland - that's if you had been able to climb high enough. Everywhere else was blacked out.
This is why there are so comparatively few photographs of RAF night bombers in flight while on operations, the film of the day wasn't sensitive enough for the light available - and that's why RAF night bombing photos have streaks all over them, due to the slow shutter speeds needed. The streaks are actually pinpoints of light - usually 4lb incendiaries burning on the ground - that have been smeared by the movement of the camera aircraft while the shutter was open. The bombing photos by this period were actually taken with flash, a 'photoflash' being a small magnesium flare that was dropped simultaneously with the load and was designed so as to fall at a different ballistic trajectory to the bombs, and then detonate while still in the air illuminating the area below for the bombing camera. The period of waiting for the flash to go off was called 'waiting for one's picture' and meant maintaining the straight-and-level bombing run for several seconds after the load had gone. An uncomfortable time. Once the picture had been obtained, theoretically the crew were free to do as they pleased, and make their way home by any route they wished, but with the introduction of the bomber stream and Window, most would have used the briefed routes home. Prior to getting their photo many regarded themselves as being 'On the King's Business' and obliged to do their job. Once done, they considered they could get home any way they chose, high or low, depending on choice and available petrol. BTW, that's why the 'landed' times of aircraft returning from an operation were sometimes spread out so widely.
For an idea of what flying in a Lancaster was like try YouTube here: [5] and part 2 here: [6] - imagine six to eight hours of that in the pitch dark and the cold. BTW, the aircraft featured has no exhaust shrouds fitted, so at night the exhaust gasses would be seen as bright blue flames, and would be visible for miles. That's why the shrouds were fitted, to hide the exhaust flames. Post-war most Lancasters, Lincolns and Mosquitoes had them removed as they were no longer needed.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:30, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
BTW, Re: the YouTube video - in war films when in a bomber you hear the sound of the bombs going off, the guns being fired, etc. Not so, in real life everything is drowned out by the noise of those engines. You can shout into the ear of someone standing or sitting right next to you and he will have trouble hearing you - that's why they have intercoms. So all these external events are soundless. If a fighter is coming in attacking you all you can see is the twinkling of his guns. And at night over the target the flashes of the bombs going off are visible but completely inaudible. Many pilots and aircrews described it as 'surreal'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Lancaster - General detail[edit]

Under the header photo it says that the last operational Lancaster was in 1963 by Canada. I can remember operating on SAR duties with an Aeronavale Lancaster (as WU-13) from New Caledonia in the mid-60s (about 1965 or '66) and it is now listed in List of surviving Avro Lancasters in MOTAT, New Zealand. Can someone check the date it was actually retired? Lin (talk) 11:29, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Harry Holmes, 2002, cited in the bibiography, says 1962 (p92). This seems to be a mistake. Jarrod Cotter, in Living Lancasters (Sutton, 2005, p108), says that in 1962 WU-13, -15 and -16 were overhauled and repainted white for hot climates, and went on to serve from New Caledonia till 1964. The infobox is therefore seemingly wrong to say that the last Lancs in service were Canada's in 1963. All three of those ex-French Lancs survive, -13 in Auckland, -15 in taxiing condition at East Kirkby, Lincs, and -16 at Perth. -Hugo Barnacle87.114.45.227 (talk) 14:14, 16 November 2012 (UTC)


In Design and Development it says B III aircraft had Ham Std paddle-bladed props rather than the tooth-pick De Hav ones on other marks. Later, under Variants B III it says "the two marks being indistinguishable externally". This all seems to make a nonsense of that latter statement, one can recognise the difference between the two props from any angle on the ground with the engines stopped. If you mean in the air why not say so? Lin (talk) 11:29, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

IIRC, de Havilland took out a licence for the Hamilton Standard "Hydromatic" propeller system pre-war. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:15, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
According to the de Havilland Gipsy Six article it was 1934 that the Hamilton Standard "Hydromatic" licence was acquired by DH. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Freeman Dyson`s speed v defensive armament theories[edit]

The whole subject of decreasing the Lancaster`s loss rate by increasing its speed (with the removal of its defensive armament) is obviously very interesting. What we do know is that Freeman Dyson did put forward his theories at the time and therefore inclusion of that is definitely relevant in an article about the Lancaster. How deeply this theory should be gone into in an article on Lancasters is more of a question. Personally I would say some supporting statistics are relevant.
The American air force had many theories on bombing and survivability with heavy defensive armament which they which they subsequently had to change in the light of experience. Comparatively quickly they realised unescorted daytime bombing raids over Germany resulted in unsustainable loss rates. Soon after the war they also came round to the theory that speed is the best defence when they removed the defensive armament from their Convair B36s in their Featherweight III programme.
This forum thread on bomber speed v defensive armament has much interest, particularly this graph of heavy bomber v Mosquito loss rates and BC v US 8th Air Force loss rates.
I quoted the 0.5% Mosquito loss rate (in the Battle of Berlin) from Max Hasting`s book "Bomber Command", but the linked to post above quotes 1.1%. The latter is obviously still far lower than the 5.5% of the heavies but does anyone know which is correct, 0.5% or 1.1% ?--JustinSmith (talk) 08:28, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Possibly unfortunately for Dyson's theory, a 320mph Ju 88 or Me 110 could have caught a cleaned-up 300-310mph loaded Lancaster just as easily as they caught a 287mph one. Any increase in speed above this would almost certainly have needed more horsepower, such as provided by the Merlin 85's as fitted to the Lincoln. In contrast, the Mosquito was actually substantially faster than the opposing night fighters.
The night air war was a very fluid one, and if it had gone on much longer the Germans would almost certainly have responded to the Mosquito by using night fighter versions of the Do 335 and Me 262, whereupon the British would probably have started using Hornet's as long range night fighters as the Fleet Air Arm later did post war. So any increase in the speed of the 'heavies' would have been largely negated within a short time anyway. To survive against fighter opposition (like a Mosquito could) you need a speed at least equal to the fighters, such as was a case with the later V bombers and Canberra when they were introduced - being only slightly faster than you were doesn't make any appreciable difference in whether you are shot down or not. So any increase in speed brought about by removing the armament from the heavies would not have amounted enough to be useful.
So as far as Dyson's theory, is concerned, he was probably right, but not right enough.
BTW, IIRC the B-36 Featherweight programme was mainly intended to provide an increase in altitude over the target, speed being more of a useful 'bonus'. At the time, the likely opposing Soviet interceptors were very limited in high altitude performance, a fact that was still relevant when the later MiG 15 jet was introduced, the V bombers and Canberra being almost completely immune from interception by it and the later MiG 17 when at ~55,000ft and above. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:35, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

I agree that a speed optimised Lanc could never compete in loss rates with a Mossie, but, on the other hand, it`s illogical to state that a 300/310mph Lanc could be caught "just as easily" as a 287mph one. On the altitude thing, I`m not an expert in aircraft performance envelopes but surely a lightened speed optimised Lanc could fly higher than the standard model ? I think Dyson had it right and I think the fact BC never even tested his theory is an absolute disgrace condidering it may well have saved the lives of some of the bomber crews. But there`s a further point, a Lanc with no armament would be significantly cheaper to build and operate, one would have thought that, if nothing else, would appeal to BC. --JustinSmith (talk) 07:34, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

Unfortunately what I wrote above is more-or-less true. The opposing night fighters would have simply reduced weight to maintain any speed advantage over the attacking bombers, e.g., removed a couple of the forward-firing cannon, so a 310mph Lancaster would have been still capable of being caught. One of the problems for both sides in the night air offensive was the extent to which the advantage see-sawed between the two sides, advantages gained being only temporary. So while Dyson's theory may have gained the RAF some sort of temporary advantage, the likelihood is that it would only have lasted a matter of a few weeks before the Germans caught-on. As I wrote above, to confer any sort of useful advantage, the speed increase would have needed to have been much more than the amount conferred by removing the turrets and guns. As for altitude, both the Me 110 and the Ju 88 could easily have coped with any height increase brought about by removing the heavies' turrets and guns, which would only have been in the order of say 5,000ft or so. They had trouble catching Mosquitoes because many of the Mosquitoes were already flying at over 30,000ft by the time the German night fighters were 'scrambled', and so the German night fighters were attempting to climb to intercept them, which reduced their forward speed even further. For a Lancaster or Halifax to attain some sort of immunity the increased speed would have needed to have been in the order of 350mph and the altitude attained over the Dutch coast to have been considerably greater than around ~25,000ft.
RAF Bomber Command never tested Dyson's theory simply because it would have caused disruption to the offensive when they were in the middle of trying to win a war. Modifying a few Lancasters would have proved little because it was well known within RAF BC that the slower Stirlings flying at a lower altitude always had higher losses than the Halifaxes and Lancasters flying higher up, so it was more or less pointless to test the idea with just a few conversions flying on operation with the Main Force - the lightened high-speed aircraft were sure to suffer lower losses, because the night fighters concentrated on the ones that were easiest to catch and shoot down. Once all the attacking aircraft are flying at the same performance level then the losses become more random and the problem facing the defending Germans became one of performance, which could be solved simply by lightening the defending night fighters as mentioned earlier. You can lighten a defending night fighter just by reducing the fuel carried, whereas an attacking bomber has a minimum fuel level needed to reach it's target. You can remove guns to lighten a defending night fighter, or just accept reduced endurance carrying less fuel, landing to refuel when needed, but for the attacking bomber this is not possible. It it much easier to increase the performance of a defending fighter by lightening its weight than it is to gain useful increases from a bomber that has to have a specific range, and therefore, fuel quantity - not much use making a bomber faster if it can no longer reach its targets. The other option for the bomber is to reduce the bomb load, but if you reduce the bomb load by say half, then you need twice the aircraft loads to drop the same tonnage of bombs on a target, which means sending them out twice instead of once. This doubling of attacks per-target then doubles the risk to each aircraft, as the aircraft is exposed to risk twice rather than once. So it becomes a case of balancing risks and probabilities.
To have changed to Dyson's theory would have necessitated modifying ALL the RAF's Lancaster force, which would have meant that every bomber would have needed to go to a Maintenance Unit (MU) for modification. This would have taken time, time that precluded the aeroplane being used on operations, which would have reduced the bomb loads being dropped on Germany, and hence prolonging the war. Assuming that the conversion was done in a similar way to the Lancastrian, then the better streamlining would have conferred a speed increase, however as I pointed out, not enough to significantly reduce losses overall. With the reduced crew requirements, the RAF would then have been faced with a surplus of now-redundant Air Gunners, and so re-training would have been required unless they were to be transferred to the tactical air forces for use by day. So RAF BC would have needed more than just a slight re-organisation. Simply put, one doesn't change horses mid-stream. Dyson shouldn't feel bad about his 'failure' to convince the authorities, it was never going to happen. The other thing he should bear in mind is that losses could have been much worse than they in fact actually were, appalling as those losses may seem. On a MAXIMUM EFFORT attack Harris was sending out almost his entire front-line force of heavies, and facing the risk of having the lot wiped out overnight. That was the equivalent to the entire Royal Navy facing possible annihilation every time it went out. So the stakes were high and Dyson may not have been able to comprehend what he was asking of Harris and RAF BC, i.e., to gamble almost everything on him being right.
BTW, the important factor is being able to outrun any defending fighter, in which case he cannot catch you at all, e.g., the Mosquito. If the defending fighter is even slightly faster than you are - say 20mph or so - he can catch you (attacks are almost all begun from a position astern of the target bomber) and shoot you down - it just takes slightly longer to do so, as the speed advantage reduces. The time taken to get into a firing position increases with the reduction in speed advantage, but it will still get into position eventually. Then the bomber gets shot down, at 287mph or 300-310mph.
The problem facing the RAF's planners was that in the night air offensive they were sending over bombers in such vast numbers and so often that it became very much a statistical war, and one had to be very careful that steps to reduce losses to one cause, didn't lead to increased losses due to others resulting from the steps taken earlier. Simply put, it became a case of 'profit and loss' - the balance sheet toting up the various factors, and the bottom line of overall losses taking precedence. Improving the speed of the bombers by the amount likely as Dyson suggested would (IMHO) not have significantly reduced OVERALL LOSSES. And it was overall losses that mattered.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:57, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

On Mosquito losses, Max Hastings is slightly over the odds. In late 1943 Hereward de Havilland reported that the two Oboe Mosquito squadrons, 105 and 109, had flown 750 night sorties for the loss of three aircraft, 0.4 per cent. (Bowyer and Sharp, Mosquito, p357.) Total Mosquito losses on night bomber operations from May 1943 to May 1945 were 108 from 26,936 sorties, which is also 0.4 per cent. On speed, top speed is not important, except for day fighters, since a piston-engined aircraft can't use full power for more than five minutes, or in some cases three minutes, without engine damage. The RAF bombers, and the German night fighters chasing them, had to travel around at cruise speed. The fighters could only speed up for short periods. But to gain real immunity from interception, a bomber would have to be faster at cruise power than the enemy's best interceptor at full boost. The only bomber to achieve this, except the German Arado 234 jet, was the Mosquito BIX or BXVI, which, at 30,000ft, was faster at cruise than a Focke-Wulf 190 going flat out. Dyson supposed that an unarmed Lanc would cruise 50mph faster than an armed one with the same load. Maybe, but the unarmed transatlantic mail Lancs with four-ton loads weren't quite that fast, I don't think. Still, if Dyson was right, the Lanc would then cruise at 260mph outbound and 290mph home. This would make it very difficult for either an Me110 or a Ju88 to catch it without cooking the engines, but the Germans would think of something -- they'd have to. Mosquitos they mostly just ignored, but they couldn't ignore Lancasters, which posed a far bigger menace. Re-tooling the production lines for fast He219s in larger numbers might have been a possibility, despite the disruption. The unarmed Lanc's speed margin would be fairly small before target, and when it did get intercepted the pilot, having no gunners to keep lookout, wouldn't know the fighter was coming. About half of all interceptions against armed Lancs failed because the gunners spotted the fighter and the Lanc corkscrewed away and lost the fighter -- the actual guns were not as significant as the eyes of the men behind them. So the unarmed Lanc might have a certain advantage for a time, but would be more vulnerable if improved interceptors whittled that advantage down. You can see why Bomber Command didn't like the idea. Plus, as with re-tooling for the He219 on the other side, the disruption would be impractical unless it was absolutely necessary. As the loss rate for armed Lancs never became unaffordable in the long term, considering the rate of replacements for crew and aircraft, it never was absolutely necessary. So they didn't do it. -Hugo Barnacle (talk) 15:19, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

I should mention that, as I pointed out in an earlier post somewhere else, the A&AEE measured speed figures - the ones usually quoted - for the bomber version of the Mosquito are measured with the aeroplane carrying a representative bomb load (2,000lb) and fuel, so the Mosquitoes would actually have been faster than the quoted figures when on the return journey after dropping their loads and using around half their fuel. This is why they were so difficult to catch, as after the load was gone you can add on about 15-20mph TAS for any bomber variant's given maximum speed. So the Mosquito bomber versions were actually even faster than they appeared. Not so for a German night fighter, as they don't usually suddenly lose around a ton in weight during flight. The Mosquito was an exceptional aeroplane and nothing Dyson suggested was going to turn a Halifax or Lancaster into the equivalent of a four-engined Mosquito. To do that would have needed a new design started with a clean sheet of paper, as was in fact done with the Valiant, Vulcan and Victor, their immediate successors.
BTW, IIRC, both the Ju88 and the Me 110 later night fighter versions used MW 50 boost and would all do at least 300mph, so they would still have been able to catch anything other than a Mosquito without too much trouble. Unfortunately all the Mosquitos they met could do at least 350mph. The Mosquito was the reason for the rush to get the night fighter version of the Me 262 into service, as it was also the reason for the He 219 and the night fighter version of the Do 335. I almost forgot the Ta 154. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:01, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Some new A&AEE stuff on Lancaster performance here: [7] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:22, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Just a FYI, the Mosquitoes PR.VIII, B.IX, and B.XVI cruised at 350mph at 30,000ft and above - 'Table 1' here [8]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Between 1943 and 1945 total losses of bomber, PRU, and night fighter Mosquitoes to German fighters came to 50 (fifty) aircraft - footnote here at page 166; [9] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:52, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Getting back to the point[edit]

What do the sources say Dyson said about Lancasters (rather than RAF heavy bombers in general) without defensive armament? Assembling Dyson's arguments for him is OR.GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:07, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Cheers GraemeLeggett, Dr. Dyson's own words on the subject can be read in: "A Failure of Intelligence" | By Dr. Freeman Dyson on November 1, 2006 | MIT Technology Review Magazine | November/December 2006 | Page 4 of 6:

I later applied the same method of analysis to the question of whether experience helped crews to survive. Bomber Command told the crews that their chances of survival would increase with experience, and the crews believed it. They were told, After you have got through the first few operations, things will get better. This idea was important for morale at a time when the fraction of crews surviving to the end of a 30-­operation tour was only about 25 percent. I subdivided the experienced and inexperienced crews on each operation and did the analysis, and again, the result was clear. Experience did not reduce loss rates. The cause of losses, whatever it was, killed novice and expert crews impartially. This result contradicted the official dogma, and the Command never accepted it. I blame the ORS, and I blame myself in particular, for not taking this result seriously enough. The evidence showed that the main cause of losses was an attack that gave experienced crews no chance either to escape or to defend themselves. If we had taken the evidence more seriously, we might have discovered Schräge Musik in time to respond with effective countermeasures. Smeed and I agreed that Bomber Command could substantially reduce losses by ripping out two gun turrets, with all their associated hardware, from each bomber and reducing each crew from seven to five. The gun turrets were costly in aerodynamic drag as well as in weight. The turretless bombers would have flown 50 miles an hour faster and would have spent much less time over Germany. The evidence that experience did not reduce losses confirmed our opinion that the turrets were useless. The turrets did not save bombers, because the gunners rarely saw the fighters that killed them. But our proposal to rip out the turrets went against the official mythology of the gallant gunners defending their crewmates. Dickins never had the courage to push the issue seriously in his conversations with Harris. If he had, Harris might even have listened, and thousands of crewmen might have been saved.

Pretty clear, wouldn't you say? Azx2 19:51, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't see where he is being specific to the Lancaster (though that isn't to say it can't be mentioned - it is a matter of how and where). The Lancaster was already subject to experimentation with gun laying radars, radar detection equipment, and heavier weapons that also reduced losses (sometimes by an even greater margin), without leaving them otherwise defenceless, and the Lincoln, capable of higher speeds and altitudes, with these new defences was ready when the Germans were defeated. Add to that, reducing the defensive weight would have translated into heavier bomb loads rather than improved performace - they already had the option of carrying fewer bombs and chose not to do so, and the Grand Slam Lancs did have the top and front turrets removed as he was recommending, although that was a matter of keeping the weight within the airframe's limits rather than to improve performace.NiD.29 (talk) 20:28, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
"But our proposal to rip out the turrets went against the official mythology of the gallant gunners defending their crewmates." - well didn't the aircrews have something to say about this - why didn't Dyson ask a few and see what they thought of flying unarmed heavy bombers over Germany at 20,000-25,000ft, I can just imagine what their response would have been. Why didn't he suggest his proposal to the 8th Air Force, they presumably would have 'benefited' just the same as RAF BC were supposed to. As I wrote earlier, a gain in speed of 50mph is not large enough to be useful, as it is still slower than the majority of defending German fighters. And if it had been enough to temporarily reduce losses the Luftwaffe would have soon noticed and then simply increased the speed of their night fighters by the means I outlined earlier.
BTW, a fully-loaded Lancaster outward bound to the target economically cruised at around 180mph. Being generous to Dyson and assuming that the 'lightweight' Lancaster cruised at say 250mph that's still 50mph slower than the majority of Germany's night fighters. Furthermore, if you don't see an attacking fighter then you don't know when to increase speed to escape one, and you can't simply fly at maximum speed all the time because you don't have the fuel to spare, not to mention the strain on the engines. So you are most likely to be caught unawares while in the cruise. So maximum speed isn't everything for the night bomber, as it is more likely to be caught and shot down while at cruising speed.
Dyson's proposal is a red herring and it is not surprising that it was not adopted. I can just imagine what "Bert" Harris must have thought.
... you see, it's exactly because you can't throw a large ~60,000-70,000lb loaded heavy bomber such as a Lancaster or Halifax around like the much lighter - around 20,000lb loaded - and much faster Mosquito that they have to have gun turrets for defence in the first place.
... oh, I nearly forgot. The whole point of the Germans developing Schräge Musik was so that the night fighter wasn't exposed to defensive fire from the bomber's rear turret. So if the turrets were removed as Dyson suggested, the night fighters could have then gone back to using their normal and much heavier forward-firing armament. That was usually at least 4 x 20mm cannon, sometimes six.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:27, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Maxims for the rear gunners?[edit]

In the collection of crime stories of the Dutch author van de Wetering "The cat of Brigadier de Gier" it is mentioned that rear gunners in Lancasters had "Maxim" machine guns at their disposal. This seems to me unprobable. However - is it correct or an error of the author?

Maxims for the rear gunners?[edit]

In the collection of crime stories of the Dutch author van de Wetering "The cat of Brigadier de Gier" it is mentioned that rear gunners in Lancasters had "Maxim" machine guns at their disposal. This seems to me unprobable. However - is it correct or an error of the author? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:52, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Definitely incorrect - water-cooled Maxim guns were the first true machine guns in the 1890s and obsolete by WWII. British WWII aircraft used modern .303 calibre air-cooled Browning machine guns - a totally different design. However - the term Maxim gun may have been used in the generic or layman sense to mean simply "machine gun". Rcbutcher (talk) 10:12, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Wireless operator[edit]

Ignore - I misread what the page was saying. Mcdeans (talk) 02:12, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

(Oct 2013) MIT Technology Review Magazine[edit]

Fascinating insight into RAF Bomber Command's initial failure to discover Schräge Musik and develop effective countermeasures to it, and the shocking INEFFECTIVENESS of Lancaster gun turrets (and Bomber Command's refusal to accept these findings, costing the lives of thousands of additional crew) is provided in this web-accessible article from MIT Technology Review Magazine by Dr. Freeman Dyson:

"A Failure of Intelligence" | By Dr. Freeman Dyson on November 1, 2006 | MIT Technology Review Magazine | November/December 2006

Prominent physicist Freeman Dyson recalls the time he spent developing analytical methods to help the British Royal Air Force bomb German targets during World War II:

...I later applied the same method of analysis to the question of whether experience helped crews to survive. Bomber Command told the crews that their chances of survival would increase with experience, and the crews believed it. They were told, After you have got through the first few operations, things will get better. This idea was important for morale at a time when the fraction of crews surviving to the end of a 30-­operation tour was only about 25 percent. I subdivided the experienced and inexperienced crews on each operation and did the analysis, and again, the result was clear. Experience did not reduce loss rates. The cause of losses, whatever it was, killed novice and expert crews impartially. This result contradicted the official dogma, and the Command never accepted it. I blame the ORS, and I blame myself in particular, for not taking this result seriously enough. The evidence showed that the main cause of losses was an attack that gave experienced crews no chance either to escape or to defend themselves. If we had taken the evidence more seriously, we might have discovered Schräge Musik in time to respond with effective countermeasures. Smeed and I agreed that Bomber Command could substantially reduce losses by ripping out two gun turrets, with all their associated hardware, from each bomber and reducing each crew from seven to five. The gun turrets were costly in aerodynamic drag as well as in weight. The turretless bombers would have flown 50 miles an hour faster and would have spent much less time over Germany. The evidence that experience did not reduce losses confirmed our opinion that the turrets were useless. The turrets did not save bombers, because the gunners rarely saw the fighters that killed them. But our proposal to rip out the turrets went against the official mythology of the gallant gunners defending their crewmates. Dickins never had the courage to push the issue seriously in his conversations with Harris. If he had, Harris might even have listened, and thousands of crewmen might have been saved.

Fascinating stuff. Check out the full article, which is applicable to many RAF bomber command/ww2 air war subjects on Wikipedia. I'm not sure why this astounding information hasn't been integrated into the material on the Lancaster already, other than, as Dr. Dyson says, their findings contradicted Bomber Command mythology and thus the official record ("This result contradicted the official dogma, and the Command never accepted it.")... Azx2 19:17, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

WP:NOTFORUM, and watch your section name length. More importantly though, the only reference in the article specific to the Lancaster is that they had lower loss rates than the Halifax. The article ought to be used with the operational research article more than any specific aircraft article. GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:35, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your feedback, GraemeLeggett - I posted a different excerpt in a supporting response to you above on the talk page for the Lancaster bomber. I think this article, written by Dr. Dyson himself, could be the missing link that people have been waiting for, as Dr. Dyson speaks in very specific detail about what they (ORS) recommended Bomber Command do w/r/t removing Lancaster gun turrets to improve (decrease) loss rates based on meta-analysis. Azx2 19:55, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
Dyson's recommendation is not a wise one, as it completely neglects the likely German response to discovering that RAF bombers from then-on were flying unarmed. It would have completely changed the tactics able to be used by the Luftwaffe's night fighters in their favour, with the RAF aircrews being unable to do anything if they were attacked. The Luftwaffe would have been able to send up almost anything that flew, against them.
In short, Dyson's recommendation is that of a scientist who completely neglects the fact that in war, unlike science, the opposition has a mind of its own, and has a wide range of available responses to any move, open to it. In other words, the other side's response to a move is not to do nothing and carry on as before, which is what it would appear Dyson assumed of the Germans. This is not so. The Germans had a first-rate air defence system of excellent quality which was easily second only to Britain's own system, which was the best in the world. To think that the Germans would sit by and do nothing after discovering the lack of armament on British bombers defies belief.
Dyson was able to make his recommendation from a position of no responsibility, and unlike Harris, who would be blamed for any subsequent possible 'massacre' of his aircrew should it have occurred after following Dysons' recommended actions, Dyson himself would have remained in relative obscurity. In other words, Harris had to balance likely outcomes bearing in mind that if Dyson was wrong then aircrew lives and aircraft would be lost in droves. He risked losing ALL the bombers sent out every time - and it was Harris who would have had to 'carry the can', not Dyson.
I don't wish to seem to be maligning Dyson as he obviously cared about the losses RAF BC was suffering, however his recommendation failed to take into account a number of factors, that in his defence, he may have been unaware of at the time.
Dyson was able to make his recommendations - as an Operations research scientist - from a position of almost no responsibility. Harris on the other hand, had ALL the burden of responsibility on his shoulders. Dyson was, in effect, asking Harris to gamble men's lives on him (Dyson) being right. But what if Dyson turned out to be wrong. In the March 1944 raid on Nuremberg RAF BC suffered its greatest loss in a single raid - 96 aircraft and 672 aircrew, with another ten aircraft written-off after landing. Suppose Dyson's recommendations had been accepted and in a later raid the losses had been 200 aircraft. Or 300. What then. THAT is what Harris was afraid of.
Harris BTW did not have a lot of time for scientists and inventors - there's a little story in Paul Brickhill's The Dam Busters that explains why.
So, in conclusion, Dyson was wrong because he assumed that the opposition - there was an opposition - would carry on exactly as before, after his changes were implemented. This - for the reasons I've outlined above - was extremely unlikely. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:58, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

Well the Germans could have "thrown up almost anything that flew" but the planes would have to have been fast enough to get up to a Lancaster`s altitude, catch it up, then shoot it down. I still don`t see why BC have at least tested the theories, as far as I know they never did. Lastly, Freeman talks about two turrets, since the Lancaster had three what about the other one ? Or have I missed something ?--JustinSmith (talk) 12:51, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Freeman says remove two of the turrets not remove all of them. But the Dyson article is really about Operational Research and strategy and not about the Lancaster. GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:55, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Which two turrets did he mean ? The Front and Dorsal ? That`d still leave the rear turret, arguably the most important anyway, and not just for its guns but for the eyes of the gunner. Much extra weight though, plus the extra man, another death on any shot down bomber......--JustinSmith (talk) 10:52, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

When they removed two turrets from operational Lancasters, it was the nose and top turrets, however this was done on only a few operational aircraft, such as the Grand Slam carriers. The Halifax dispensed with the nose turret on later marks but for the full benefit of not having the turret the design needs to omit it from the outset, and you might notice that the first generation of bombers designed after WW2 did just that - the Canberra, the V bombers and all US bombers after the B-36 dispensed with the extra turrets, with the tail turret hanging on the longest in the US and Russia - so it is unfair for him to assert that his recommendations were ignored - there are limitations on what could be done with an operational aircraft. At the same time countermeasures were introduced to combat schrage musik indirectly, even if the British were unaware of the weapon itself, in the form of radar proximity warning systems, gun laying radar and better turrets. Furthermore his contention of adding 50mph to the top speed is overly optimistic - the Lancastrian, which was a Lancaster stripped of ALL of its weapons, AND the high drag night paint and given aerodynamic fairings gained only 30 mph in top speed over a stock Lancaster Mk.1, not enough to allow it to outrun night fighters, and without stripping the night paint, the gain would have been even smaller as the RDM2a black paint used on the Lancaster was tested on a Mosquito in special trials and the top speed dropped by 26 mph.NiD.29 (talk) 21:09, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Too add to the previous, the removal of the weapons also had to wait for the development of fighters that could be used to escort the unarmed bombers, a process that at its best takes at least two years even with the technology mature, which it wasn't. In the case of the British night bombers, this means very long range night fighters, whose technology was still at an early stage of development in 1945.NiD.29 (talk) 21:32, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
In answer to the earlier questions, the RAF didn't try a few modified Lancasters simply because they already knew what the result would be. The modified aircraft would have lower loss rates than the un-modified aircraft, however this was simply because the German night fighters concentrated on the ones that were the easiest to shoot down. The RAF were sending bombers over in such large numbers that it was easier for a night fighter to simply select another bomber to attack rather than to spend time trying to catch one of the faster or higher flying ones. This had been proven many times previously when the RAF was operating a mixed force of Wellingtons, Stirlings, Halifaxes, and Lancasters, all of which types had different levels of performance. Once all the Lancasters had been modified as-per Dyson's suggestions then the whole force would be flying at the same range of speeds and altitudes, and so the problem for the Germans then becomes one of simply slightly increasing fighter performance - which they could do simply by flying with reduced fuel loads, or removing a couple of cannon, as you can improve an aeroplane's performance simply by flying at a lower weight.
With the introduction of IIRC 'Wilde Sau', the Germans were using Bf 109 and Fw 190 day fighters so performance would not have been a problem for the night fighter force - by 1943 both these types could do 400+ mph.
Dyson's idea neglects the number of night fighter attacks that were avoided simply by the night fighter being spotted by the gunners before the bomber was itself seen. These avoided attacks may not have been included in his data however, as they were 'non-events'. The whole point about flying and bombing at night was the avoidance of enemy fighters. This was the whole Raison d'être of No. 100 Group RAF.
It is quite likely that if Dyson's recommendations had been carried out, that eventually the additional speeds obtained would have been eventually negated by increasing the bomb load. Some Groups by 1944 were loading their Lancasters with 18,000 lb anyway.
IIRC, the Grand Slam and Type 464 Provisioning (i.e, Dam Buster) Lancasters had the mid-upper, (and nose turret in the Grand Slam variant), removed to save weight due to the increased load of the bomb and release gear so as not to overload the undercarriage. IIRC, the Dam Buster raid was in 1943 and the Lancaster had not at that time had the increased permitted normal MTOW to 68,000lb that was applied later. IIRC, the original design MTOW for the Lancaster I/III was 55,000 lb, but it was increased in stages to, IIARC, 60,000 lb, then 63,000 lb, then 65,000 lb, and finally 68,000 lb. You can fly an aircraft overloaded to some extent but they become more sluggish and their flying qualities deteriorate, but the Lancaster didn't mind too much. If landing at overload then one has to be gentle on touchdown, as the undercarriage can have a heavier-than-normal load applied to it, so it may break. Grand Slams were never to be jettisoned (they were in limited supply and too valuable for this) and had to be brought back if an operation was 'scrubbed', so that's why I mention this. Grand Slam aircraft MTOW was 72,000 lb. The Grand Slam operations IIRC were mostly carried out by day and at a stage in the war when the Luftwaffe had become a shadow of its former self. There was by then little fighter opposition so the nose turret had become less important.
The Halifax III and later variants had the nose turret and Air Bomber's 'chin' clear panels removed and replaced with a streamlined one-piece perspex nose with a single gun and bomb aimer's optically-flat panel, as it had been noted that few fighter attacks were carried out at night from the front - the closing speeds are too high, as is the risk of collision. But it kept the single gun, otherwise the Germans could have changed their tactics once they found out that it was safer to attack the bomber from the front. The main reason for the change however was to reduce weight and drag, as the Halifax's performance had been suffering due to rising weights over and above that originally designed, and additional external excrescences incorporated over time - such as exhaust shrouds, additional aerials, etc., had added to the drag. The change to the Hercules also helped, as it was better suited to the airframe, whereas in the Lancaster the converse was true. With the greater weights and drag the Halifax I and II had become underpowered with the Merlin.
The point about retaining the nose gun in the Halifax III was that otherwise once the Luftwaffe found out that there was no armament at the front of the bomber then they would have changed their tactics to take advantage of this. Same with removing the mid-upper turret. Even with retaining the tail turret - the most important one - the deletion of the nose and mid-upper turrets would have made it safe for night fighter attacks to be carried out from both above and from ahead. Removing these two turrets might have worked if the bombers had been operating at an altitude higher than the night fighters had been able to reach, unfortunately all the German night fighters could climb to, and fight at, altitudes higher than the 25,000 ft or so, of a lightened heavy bomber. To operate at higher altitudes then brings the problem of contrails which then negate the purpose of flying at night completely - you can see them for miles, and of course, so could the night fighters.
IIRC, there was already a higher-performance Lancaster, the two-stage Merlin 85 Lancaster VI, but only a few were produced as RAF BC were quite satisfied with the performance of the Lancaster I/III and X and it was felt that the improved performance did not justify the disruption in production that would occur if the variant was introduced.
As I wrote earlier, the RAF (and Commonwealth) night bombing campaign was a very complicated one, (the highest-tech one of the war, in fact - easily) with multiple - often inter-related - factors coming into play, and there were so many variables where, you change one, and it affects all the others, that simplistic solutions often caused more trouble than they were worth. For example, you change a simple operating-frequency of a piece of equipment - on either side - and that can save hundreds, or even thousands of lives - or get them killed. In a night. Any night. No other area of warfare in the period 1939-45 came anywhere near that situation. That is the type of situation that RAF BC and the Luftwaffe were operating in. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:11, 18 August 2014 (UTC)