Lancaster file photo [129]


CountryUnited Kingdom
Primary RoleHeavy Bomber
Maiden Flight9 January 1941


ww2dbaseFirst used in 1942, the Lancaster bombers were four-engined bombers that served as Britain's heavy bombers. The design was actually a Manchester bomber variant, Mk III, but the improvement was so significant that the variant received a totally new name. When the blueprints of chief designer Roy Chadwick for the Lancaster was accepted, most of the original Manchester bombers were rebuilt as Lancaster bombers. Their ability to carry large quantities of bombs was among the reasons British Air Marshal Arthur Harris was given the nicknames "Bomber Harris" and the more accusive "Butcher Harris". With this weapon, Harris was able to drop 2,000 tons of high explosives on Cologne on 30-31 May 1942; in a mere 90-minute window, the Lancaster bombers left 45,000 residents of Cologne homeless. On 14-15 Feb 1945, Lancaster bombers and their American counterparts devastated the German city of Dresden, killing at least 25,000 (some estimates were as high as 60,000). In total, Lancaster bombers flew 156,000 missions and dropped 608,612 tons of bombs. The RAF paid dearly for successfully carrying out the carpet bombing missions with Lancaster bombers, too, losing 3,249 in action, nearly half the 7,377 that it deployed into service.

ww2dbaseSome Lancaster bombers carried advanced communications systems, such as the 1155 receiver and the 1154 transmitter that provided radio direction-finding, voice, and Morse capabilities. Some later models were also equipped with radar systems for navigation or to warn of incoming hostile interceptors.

ww2dbaseJust as how Lancaster bombers were evolved directly from the Manchester design, from Lancaster the Lincoln bomber and the Lancastrian civilian airliner were born after WW2. Some Lancaster bombers that remained in service after WW2 were converted into transports and tankers.

ww2dbaseSources: the Fall of Berlin, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2007

Lancaster Timeline

10 Nov 1940 The first Avro Manchester Mk. 1 bomber to be delivered went to No. 207 Squadron RAF (Squadron Leader Noel Challis Hyde) based at RAF Waddington in the county of Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom.
9 Jan 1941 The Avro Lancaster heavy bomber took flight for the first time.
6 Jun 1941 The British Air Ministry issued a contract to Avro for the supply of 454 Lancaster Mk I heavy bombers powered by four Merlin XX engines, plus two prototype Lancaster Mk II fitted with four Bristol Hercules VI engines.
7 Feb 1942 The first of the new Avro Lancaster bombers to be written off in RAF Bomber Command occurred when Flight Sergeant D. F. Nicholson of 44 Squadron, approaching RAF Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom realized that he had misread the wind direction. Rather than going around again he attempted to turn onto the correct runway, but lost control and skidded into a frozen snow bank which caused the undercarriage to collapse.
3 Mar 1942 RAF bombed the Renault plant in Billancourt, near Paris, France, while the Lancaster bomber made its debut mining the harbor at Brest, France.
20 Apr 1943 The most famous of all Lancaster bombers, ED888, was delivered to No. 103 Squadron RAF at RAF Elsham Wolds in Elsham, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom. ED888, which served as M-Mother (later adapted to Mother-of them-all) would, by the time it was retired early in 1945, have set a record of 140 completed operations to its credit.
13 Mar 1945 A British No. 617 Squadron RAF Lancaster bomber test-dropped a 22,000-lb Grand Slam bomb in the Ashley Range in the New Forest in Hampshire, England, United Kingdom.
22 Apr 1945 While performing a low level "beat-up" of the airfield at RAF Fulbeck in Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom, a Lancaster bomber, serial PB463, struck a building and crashed, killing all seven crewmen and eight spectators on the ground. Another twenty personnel suffered injuries, of whom four later died in hospital.


Machinery4 Rolls-Royce Merlin XX V12 engines, rated at 1,280 hp each
Armament8x7.7mm Browning machine guns in three turrets, 10,000kg of bombs
Span31.09 m
Length21.11 m
Height5.97 m
Wing Area120.50 m²
Weight, Empty16,705 kg
Weight, Loaded28,636 kg
Speed, Maximum448 km/h
Service Ceiling8,160 m
Range, Normal4,320 km


Various aircraft at RAF Mandy, England, United Kingdom, 1940sWAAF personnel and ground crew members waving off Pilot Officer W. H. Eager RCAF and his crew of a Lancaster B Mark I bomber of No. 61 Squadron RAF, RAF Syerston, Flintham, Nottinghamshire, England, United Kingdom, 1942-1943; this bomber was later lost during a raid on Mannheim, Germany on 10 Aug 1943Leading Aircraftwoman Lilian Yule tractoring a Avro Lancaster B Mark III bomber of No. 49 Squadron RAF to its dispersal slot at RAF Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom, 1942-1944; this bomber, DV238, was later lost during a raid on Berlin, Germany during the night of 16-17 Dec 1944 with No. 44 Squadron RAFWAAF signals officer testing the intercom system in an Avro Lancaster aircraft at a Bomber Command station, United Kingdom, 1942-1945
See all 22 photographs of Lancaster Heavy Bomber


B-17 Flying Fortress bombers attacking Dresden, Germany; Lancaster bombers preparing to takeoff to attack Dresden; Feb 1945Meet the Dam Busters

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
7 Jan 2008 03:21:18 AM

Crew: 7 (Pilot, Navigator, Radio Operator, Flight Engineer, Bomb-Aimer, Mid upper gunner and Tail Gunner)
2. Brian Kilgore says:
9 Jan 2012 08:52:24 AM

The Globe and Mail newspaper - Canada-wide - features a Lancaster on page two, with, by coincidence, a small story and an in-air photo of the Lancaster written/shot by Peter Cheney of the G&M. Can't find a web link, unfortunately.
3. james says:
14 May 2012 04:33:12 AM

the lancaster bomber is one of the most successful bombers during that era
4. Dean Robert Denyer says:
27 Jul 2012 08:54:14 AM

My grandad was a boss of rolls royce and was given the radio transmitter out of the first lancaster bomber to fly into germany and drop its bombs in the war, me and my dad had to clear out his work room and computer room recently as he asked us to take it all to the council refuse depot in bridgewater as he no longer needed any of it being the grand old age of 92 now, we gave it to to workmen there with the info on the equptment, they kept it as it is part of our history they said, can any let us know if this was valuable and if so what would of been the value on this item, thankyou
5. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
20 May 2013 08:31:26 AM

Statistic show that at least 59 Bomber Command Squadrons operated the Avro Lancaster bomber during the war. They flew more than 156,000 sorties and dropped 608,612 tons of High Explosive bombs in addition to more than 51 million incendiaries.
6. Hugh mackay says:
8 May 2017 08:24:19 AM

Hello. . I'm looking for some information about my dad. Who died 37 years ago when I was 6. Only when I was 30 my mum told me that my dad was on the Lancaster boomer in the world war 11 .. His nick name was tail gun Charlie his name was hugh Neil Murray mackay. He lived in sutherland Strathy Scotland. Please can you help me? Kind regards hugh
7. john cavill says:
12 Nov 2017 06:30:04 AM

were some lancasters built in doncaster
8. Anonymous says:
27 Dec 2017 08:59:17 AM

Apply to the MOD for your Dad's war record. That will give you a starting point.Good luck!
9. Mark says:
10 Jun 2019 01:50:54 PM

Father in-law is pictured beside a Lancaster located in Halifax. Name on plane was Horsey Hairy. Any place on the net that info could be found about this plane? Thanks in advance.
10. William Hawke says:
27 Jun 2019 07:10:42 AM

I am writing a factual fiction book, which includes Royal Air Force bombing in WWII. My father was a forward gunner - cum- bomb aimer on a Lancaster. QUESTION: Was there an internal communication system on Lancasters? How did he know when to drop down from his turret, peer through the window and drop the bomb load?
11. Colin says:
14 Apr 2022 09:27:37 AM

Trying to find out if any Lancaster bombers were stationed at Malta in WW2 or flew around Malta to protect it during WW2.
Family connection
12. M Gough says:
30 Sep 2022 01:03:48 PM

I was wondering if anyone had any information on Henry Leigh l never knew him well but he left me his Air Crew Europe Star, l think he flew in Lancasters and was a Warrant Officer, not sure but l am pretty sure he had a DFC
13. John says:
14 Oct 2022 02:10:29 PM

I have a photo of a Lancaster bomber named RĀ² Ruhr Rover showing all of the air crew, taken April 1945, which was found in my recently deceased mums memorabilia.
It's there anything you can tell me about this aircraft and it's free.
14. David Chappell says:
17 May 2024 03:16:07 PM

My great uncle Graham Chappell (died 2005) completed 52 missions on Lancaster bombers and never knew until after the war how lucky he was to survive! I cannot find any information on his war effort....
Born 11/05/1922
Died 15/06/2005
Ant information would be greatly appreciated

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Lancaster Heavy Bomber Photo Gallery
Various aircraft at RAF Mandy, England, United Kingdom, 1940s
See all 22 photographs of Lancaster Heavy Bomber

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