Talk:Avro Lancaster

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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 80.7.147.13 (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 80.7.147.13 (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 87.114.45.227 (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 80.7.147.13 (talk) 20:01, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Some new A&AEE stuff on Lancaster performance here: [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.7.147.13 (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 [2]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.7.147.13 (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; [3] — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.7.147.13 (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 80.7.147.13 (talk) 09:27, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
A 1943 US test report on the Lancaster II and III here; [4] — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2.24.215.249 (talk) 16:49, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

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.
I thought it was a commonly accepted fact that the most important contribution of the gunners wasn`t to shoot down attacking fighters it was to try and see them before they had a chance to attack the bomber. They`d then communicate the sighting to the pilot ASAP who would corkscrew as fast as poss (unless he was in a Mk1 or Mk2 Halifax......)--JustinSmith (talk) 20:17, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

The British research establishment conducted live tests which demonstrated that the mark I eyeball was remarkably bad at spotting night fighters on dark nights, and night fighters were repeatedly able to get well within firing range (sometimes as little as a dozen feet) without being seen, during tests when the gunners were already expecting them (unlike an actual mission, when it was only a chance). Attempts were made to rectify this, first by removing perspex panels and using alternate turrets, but it wasn't until the gunners had radar that they had an effective means of tracking incoming night fighters. To add to the difficulty, the gunners had a limited amount of ammunition and couldn't start blazing away any time they thought they might have seen something, and evasive maneuvers slowed the aircraft down and increased the time to o from the target so couldn't be used continuously either.NiD.29 (talk) 07:36, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

The problem with radar of course is that once the Germans had the ferquencies they then used it to home in on the bombers (various sources incl "Bomber Command" by Hastings). With the benefit of hindsight if I`d been a bomber pilot in WWII I`d have switched off my radar !--JustinSmith (talk) 09:09, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

H2S was only supposed to be used intermittently during flight, to check course, etc., and then once again when over the target for bombing, however some crews neglected this and left it switched on and transmitting all the time. It was a very powerful piece of equipment and the Germans could pick-up the H2S test transmissions being carried out on the UK airfields prior to operations later the same evening - the Germans had no difficulty detecting microwave transmissions, but without the magnetron they were unable to transmit on microwave frequencies at any useful amount of power. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2.24.215.81 (talk) 00:51, 18 December 2014 (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 84.163.117.219 (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 2.24.216.123 (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 radio or radar 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 2.24.215.249 (talk) 19:11, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

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
On the matt paint thing I was reading Cheshire`s biography (by Morris) and it states on p107 that the substitution of semi gloss for the original matt paint on Halifaxes added (only) 5mph to the speed. --JustinSmith (talk) 09:23, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

The drag caused by skin friction is an insignificant part of the overall drag at lower airspeeds, becoming more significant as airspeeds rise, so polishing or using a smooth finish on a 200 mph aeroplane like a Halfiax or Lancaster is unlikely to have had much benefit, so 5 mph sounds about right, whereas on a 350-400 mph Mosquito, Spitfire or Tempest, the effect would be more noticeable and worthwhile. The same would apply to the faster Valiant, Vulcan, and Victor.
The other drawback is that on an operational aircraft keeping the finish clean and polished is not really practicable under operational conditions, especially somewhere with weather like the UK. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.148.220.15 (talk) 12:56, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Minor issue, the performance data, "Maximum speed: 282 mph (246 knots, 454 km/h) at 63,000 lb (29,000 kg) and 13,000 lb (5,900 kg) altitude", makes little sense. The units of altitude are wrong. Possibly meant to read as, "Maximum speed: 282 mph (246 knots, 454 km/h) at 63,000 lb (29,000 kg) and 13,000 ft (3,962 m) altitude". Don;t have the reference to check.

Llynglas (talk) 20:54, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

IIRC, the "287 mph" maximum speed usually quoted for a Lancaster I/III is the speed obtained when carrying a 7,000 lb bomb load. A&AEE speed figures for bombers are usually measured with a bomb load half the maximum normal load, in this case half the 14,000 lb normal maximum. Empty, a Lancaster I/III would do around 300 mph flat-out.
A&EE performance figures were for the intended service use and so were measured carrying useful representative fuel and bomb loads, rather than measuring the absolute maximum obtainable under ideal conditions. So if you come across accounts where a greater speed is stated than the quoted maximum, that's why. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.148.221.72 (talk) 11:28, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

Bad ISBN[edit]

Because it is causing a Checkwiki error #73: "Invalid ISBN-13", I removed the ISBN from the entry:

Chorlton, Martyn. Avro Lancaster Mk I and Mk III: Database. Cudham, Kent, UK: Kelsey Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9-770143-724-28-6.

I have tried unsuccessfully to locate the correct ISBN on the Internet. Chorlton is a rather prolific writer, so there are lots of hits on the author. By contrast, few hits occur on the title or a combination of author and title. No hits on UK Amazon. No hits on WorldCat. Even when I changed the second "7" to an "8", the result was an invalid ISBN. Knife-in-the-drawer (talk) 19:29, 25 June 2015 (UTC)