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|Avro Lancastrian PD328 Aries. This RAF Empire Air Navigation School aircraft was an early conversion from the Lancaster bomber. In 1945, it was the aircraft used in the finding of the Magnetic North Pole.|
|Role||Passenger and mail transport|
Trans Canada Airlines
Royal Air Force
Rolls-Royce (engine test-beds)
|Number built||91 (including conversions)|
|Developed from||Avro Lancaster|
The Avro 691 Lancastrian was a Canadian and British passenger and mail transport aircraft of the 1940s and 1950s developed from the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber. The Lancaster was named after Lancaster, Lancashire; a Lancastrian is an inhabitant of Lancashire.
The Lancastrian was basically a modified Lancaster bomber without armour or armament and with the gun turrets replaced by streamlined metal fairings, including a new nose section. The initial batch was converted directly from Lancasters; later batches were new builds.
Design and development
In 1943, Canada's Victory Aircraft converted a Lancaster X bomber for civil transport duties with Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA). (After the war Victory Aircraft was purchased by what became Avro Canada). This conversion was a success resulting in eight additional Lancaster Xs being converted. The "specials" were powered by Packard-built Merlin 38 engines and featured a lengthened, streamlined nose and tail cone. Range was increased by two 400 gal (1,818 L) Lancaster long-range fuel tanks fitted as standard in the bomb bay. These Lancastrians were used by TCA on its Montreal–Prestwick route.
The modification of abundant military aircraft into desperately needed civil transports was common in the United Kingdom in the immediate postwar period: the Handley Page Halton was a similar conversion of the Halifax heavy bomber.
In 1945, deliveries commenced of 30 British-built Lancastrians for BOAC. On a demonstration flight on 23 April 1945, G-AGLF flew 13,500 mi (21,700 km) from England to Auckland, New Zealand in three days, 14 hours at an average speed of 220 mph (354 km/h).
The Lancastrian was fast, had a long range, and was capable of carrying a heavy load, but space inside was very limited as the Lancaster had been designed with space for its seven crew dispersed throughout the fuselage, and with the majority of the load being carried in the 33 ft (10.05 m) long bomb bay. Consequently, as passengers are bulky but low in weight, it was not suited to carry large numbers of passengers, but was suitable for mail and a small number of VIP passengers. BOAC used it for flights between England and Australia from 31 May 1945. It also served with the RAF; RAF Lancaster I serial number PD328, was converted to a Lancastrian and renamed Aries, as well as serving with Qantas and Flota Aérea Mercante Argentina.
Lancastrians were used during the Berlin Airlift to transport petrol; 15 aircraft made over 5,000 trips. In 1946 a Lancastrian operated by BSAA was the first aircraft to make a scheduled flight from the then-newly opened London Heathrow Airport.
Lancastrian engine testbeds
Data from Avro Aircraft since 1908:
With the advent of gas turbine engines there emerged a need to test the new engines in a controlled flight environment in well instrumented installations. An ideal candidate emerged as the Avro Lancastrian which could easily accommodate the test instrumentation as well as fly on the power of two piston engines if required. Several Lancastrians were allocated for engine test-bed work with turbojet engines replacing the outer Merlin engines or test piston engines in the inner nacelles. Fuel arrangements varied but could include kerosene jet fuel in outer wing tanks or fuselage tanks, with avgas carried in remaining fuel tanks.
|Name||Serial||Test engine||First flight||Notes|
|Nene-Lancastrian||VH742||2x Rolls-Royce Nene + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin||14 August 1946||Flew the first international all-jet passenger flight from London to Paris on 23 November 1946.|
|Nene-Lancastrian||VH737||2x Rolls-Royce Nene + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin|
|Avon-Lancastrian||VM732||2x Rolls-Royce Avon + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin|
|Avon-Lancastrian||VL970||2x Rolls-Royce Avon + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin||Latterly used to test the Rolls-Royce Avon 502 civil turbojet for the de Havilland Comet 2 airliner.|
|Ghost-Lancastrian||VM703||2x de Havilland Ghost 50 + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin + 2x Walter HWK 109-500 RATOG packs||24 July 1947||Testing the Engines and takeoff-boost system proposed for the de Havilland Comet 1 airliner|
|Ghost-Lancastrian||VM729||2x de Havilland Ghost 50 + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin||Used for afterburner research and later development and certification of the Ghost 50 for the Comet 1 a.|
|Sapphire-Lancastrian||VM733||2x Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin||18 January 1950|
|Griffon-Lancastrian||VM704||2x Rolls-Royce Griffon 57 inboard + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin T.24/4 outboard||Used for testing the Griffon installation for the Avro Shackleton|
|Griffon-Lancastrian||VM728||2x Rolls-Royce Griffon 57 inboard + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin T.24/4 outboard||Used for testing the Griffon installation for the Avro Shackleton|
|Merlin 600-Lancastrian||VM704||2x Rolls-Royce Merlin 600 + 2x Rolls-Royce Merlin||Used for testing the civil Merlin 600-series for use in the Canadair C4M and Avro Tudor|
Accidents and incidents
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- 16 October 1958 – Argentine Air Force C.4 T-66 (msn 1402) crashed on landing at La Paz, Bolivia.
On 2 August 1947 Lancastrian G-AGWH Star Dust of British South American Airways was lost in the Andes, whilst en route from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile. The probable cause of the crash was a navigation error due to the then-unknown effect of the fast-moving jetstream.
- Lancaster XPP
- Nine built by converting Lancaster Mk.Xs at Victory Aircraft Ltd Canada.
- Lancastrian C.1
- Nine-seat transport aircraft for BOAC and Qantas. Royal Air Force designation Lancastrian C.1 to Specification 16/44. A total of 23 built by Avro
- Lancastrian C.2
- Nine-seat military transport aircraft for the RAF. A total of 33 built by Avro
- Lancastrian 3
- 13-seat transport aircraft for British South American Airways. A total of 18 built by Avro
- Lancastrian C.4
- Ten to 13-seat military transport aircraft for the RAF. Eight built by Avro
- Flota Aérea Mercante Argentina (FAMA) - three C.4 incorporated in 1947
- Alitalia – six Lancastrians operated circa 1948
- British European Airways
- British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC)
- British South American Airways
- Flight Refuelling Ltd
- Silver City
- Skyways Limited
- Argentine Air Force - two C.4 ex-FAMA, incorporated in 1948
Specifications (Lancastrian C.1)
Data from
- Crew: five
- Capacity: nine passengers
- Payload: mail (3,560 kg)
- Length: 76 ft 10 in (23.4 m)
- Wingspan: 102 ft (31.1 m)
- Height: 19 ft 6 in (5.9 m)
- Wing area: 1,297 ft² (120.5 m²)
- Empty weight: 30,423 lb (13,800 kg)
- Loaded weight: 64,991 lb (29,480 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × Rolls-Royce Merlin 12 piston engine, 1,250 hp (930 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 310 mph (499 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
- Range: 4,150 mi (6,677 km)
- Service ceiling: 23,000 ft (7,010 m)
- Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (230 m/min)
- Avro Lancaster
- Avro York
- Avro Lincolnian very similar to Lancastrian but developed from Lincoln bomber instead of Lancaster bomber.
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Boeing C-108 Flying Fortress Transport B-17 Flying Fortress with minimal external changes.
- Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express Transport variant of B-24 Liberator.
- Franks, Richard A. The Avro Lancaster, Manchester and Lincoln: A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeller. London: SAM Publications, 2000. ISBN 0-9533465-3-6.
- Holmes, Harry. Avro Lancaster (Combat Legend series). Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2002. ISBN 1-84037-376-8.
- Jackson, A.J. Avro Aircraft since 1908, 2nd edition. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-834-8.
- Mackay, R.S.G. Lancaster in action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-89747-130-X.
- Milberry, Larry. The Canadair North Star. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1982. ISBN 0-07-549965-7.
- Ottaway, Susan and Ian. Fly With the Stars – A History of British South American Airways. Andover, Hampshire, UK: Speedman Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7509-4448-9.
- Taylor, John W. R. "Avro Lancaster." Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
- Jackson, A.J. (1965). Avro Aircraft since 1908 (1st ed.). London: Putnam & Company Ltd. pp. 388–392.
- Benedetto, Fernando (2009). Núñez Padin, Jorge Felix, ed. Avro Lancaster, Lancastrian & Lincoln. Serie Fuerza Aérea (in Spanish). 17. Bahía Blanca, Argentina: Fuerzas Aeronavales. ISBN 978-987-1682-00-3. Archived from the original on 2011-09-22.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Avro Lancastrian.|
- "The Lancastrian," a 1945 Flight article on the Avro Lancastrian
- "The Pathfinder goes by Star Light," a 1946 AVRO advertisement for the Lancastrian in Flight magazine
- "England to Australia in 3 Days!" – a 1945 advertisement in Flight magazine for the BOAC Lancastrian service to Australia
- "Flight in the Nene Lancastrian" a 1946 Flight article
- "Nene Installation," a 1947 Flight article on the Rolls-Royce Nene jet engine experimental installation on the Lancastrian