Lancaster bombers: flying together for the first time in half a century

News Article / August 19, 2014

By Royal Air Force public affairs, with files from Veterans Affairs Canada

At Royal Air Force (RAF) Coningsby in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, two Lancaster bombers took to the skies on August 14, 2014, for the first formation flight of this aircraft type since the 1960s.

The Lancaster “Thumper”, which is part of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, was joined by the Canadian Lancaster “Vera” from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.

They are the only two airworthy Lancasters in the world.

On August 8, the day Vera arrived at RAF Coningsby, 22 British veterans of Bomber Command gathered at the air station to welcome the Canadian Lancaster and to receive their Bomber Command clasps (bars) from Group Captain Johnny Stringer, RAF Coningsby’s station commander. The veterans had the opportunity to get reacquainted at close quarters with an aircraft with which they were once so familiar.

Air Vice Marshal Stuart Atha, air officer commanding 1 Group, RAF, welcomed Vera and paid tribute to her pilot, Don Schofield, and her crew who had “flown her across rather a lot of water, dodging quite a few thunderstorms.

“They may not have been Messerschmitts,” he said, “but the challenge was significant nonetheless.”

The two Lancasters will visit some 60 air shows and public events across the United Kingdom over the next five weeks. On Thursday, August 21, 2014, the Lancasters will fly to RAF Waddington where they will be joined by the famous delta wing Vulcan Bomber XH558. Accompanying the line-up will be two Hawk aircraft flown by 100 Squadron from RAF Leeming.

The Canadian Lancaster

From the Warplane Heritage Museum website

The Museum's Avro Lancaster Mk. X was built at Victory Aircraft, Malton, Ontario, in July 1945 and was later converted to a RCAF 10MR configuration. In 1952, it suffered a serious accident and received a replacement wing centre section from a Lancaster that had flown in combat over Germany. It served as a maritime patrol aircraft, with No. 405 Squadron, Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and No. 107 Rescue Unit, Torbay, Newfoundland, for many years and was retired from the RCAF in late 1963.

With help from the Sulley Foundation in 1977, it was acquired from the Royal Canadian Legion in Goderich, Ontario, where it had been on outside display. Eleven years passed before it was completely restored and flew again on September 24, 1988. The Lancaster is dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski and is referred to as the “Mynarski Memorial Lancaster”. It is painted in the colours of his aircraft KB726 – VR-A, which flew with RCAF No. 419 (Moose) Squadron. Andrew Mynarski won the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest award for gallantry, on June 13, 1944, when his Lancaster was shot down in flames by a German night fighter. As the bomber fell, he attempted to free the tail gunner trapped in the rear turret of the blazing and out-of-control aircraft. The tail gunner miraculously survived the crash and lived to tell the story but, sadly, Andrew Mynarski died from his severe burns.

BUILT: 1945

LENGTH: 69 feet 6 inches (approximately 21 metres)
WINGSPAN: 102 feet (approximately 31 metres)
POWER: 1,640 horsepower each
ENGINE: 4 x Packard Merlin 224
MAXIMUM SPEED: 275 miles per hour (approximately 442.5 kilometres per hour
CRUISING SPEED: 210 miles per hour (approximately 338 kilometres per hour)
SERVICE CEILING: 25,700 feet (approximately 7,833 metres)
RANGE: 2,530 miles (approximately 4,071 kilometres)

The Bomber Command bar

In Canada, the Bomber Command Bar is awarded to Canadian veterans who, regardless of rank or role, served a minimum of one day with Bomber Command between September 3, 1939, and May 8, 1945 (Victory in Europe Day). Recognizing that the successes of Bomber Command started on the ground and finished in the air over Fortress Europe, all Canadian Bomber Command Veterans who earned the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM), regardless of rank or role, are eligible for the honour. British veterans wear the Bomber Command clasp on the 1939-45 Star.

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