Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Avro Lancaster

C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

Picture:  451 x 315 - World War 2 Planes

Lancaster Mk I
Crew:                    7 

Power:                  4 x Rolls Royce or Packard 1460 hp Merlin XX, 20 or 22s

Performance -
Max. Speed:       443 kph / 275 mph at 4572 m / 15,000 ft
Cruise Speed:    322 kph / 200 mph at 4572 m / 15,000 ft
Ceiling:                6706 m / 22,000 ft
Range:                 4072 km / 2530 miles
Climb:                  6096 m / 20,000 ft in 41 minutes

Weight -
Empty:                 16,344 kg / 36,000 lb
Max. Take Off:    30,872 kg / 68,000 lb

Size -
Wingspan:          31.1 m / 102 ft
Wing Area:         120.45 sq m / 1297 sq ft
Length:                21.1 m / 69 ft 4 in
Height:                5.97 m / 19 ft 7 in

                           nose and dorsal turrets with 2 x 7.7 mm / 0.303 in Brownings
                           tail turret with 4 x 7.7 mm / 0.303 in Brownings 
                           normal bomb load = 6356 kg / 14,000 lb or
                           9988 kg / 22,000 lb single bomb with modifications to bomb bay

Chief Designer:  Roy Chadwick  

Picture:  1000 x 664 at 100 dpi  -  fotocommunity

The Avro Lancaster was the best, most effective, British workhorse bomber for the RAF in World War II.  It was developed from a previous, unsuccessful two engine bomber effort, the Manchester, which was plagued with unreliable engines, appropriately named Vultures.  The Lancaster used many of the Manchester’s parts including its extraordinarily sturdy fuselage.  The resulting aircraft had remarkable flying characteristics and was powered by the famous Rolls Royce Merlin XX engine, the same powerplant used by the Spitfire.

Picture:  1280 x 1024 at 117 dpi  -  Free HD Wallpapers

When Sir Arthur Harris became Air Chief Marshal in February, 1942 he prioritized the building of four engine bombers.  The Battle of Britain was over and it was time to take the war to Germany, its industry, its cities, its civilians.  A plague had been launched on Western Civilization and it was time those who spawned it began to share in its tragedy of pain, heartache and sorrow. 

Picture:  1000 x 400  -  The Dambusters

Night bombing was, initially at least, safer than day bombing but inaccurate, and called for saturating an area with a combination of explosives and incendiaries to be truly effective.   Of course, the victims of these raids were not about to give the crews of Lancasters a free pass.  Bf 110s and Ju 88s were developed as night fighters, rising up beneath the unprotected belly of the Lancaster and knocking it out of the sky with their upward firing guns. 

Picture:  1152 x 768 at 350 dpi  -  Wikipedia

More than 7300 Lancasters were built by the end of the war but, of these, 3345 left on missions and never returned.  The casualty rate was high but apparently acceptable when two nations are grappling to survive a winner take all war.  People keeping track of bombing statistics determined that a Lancaster was able, on average, to deliver 132 tons of explosives before being lost while a Halifax delivered 56 tons and a Stirling only 41 tons.  With a normal Lancaster bomb load being about 7 tons it was always a good idea to write home, expressing your love, prior to your next mission.  

Picture:  600 x 279  -  Fiddlers Green

The most famous Lancaster mission was the destruction of two of three Ruhr dams on the night of 16 May, 1943.  It involved skipping special bombs across the water like stones to avoid torpedo netting used to protect the dams.  The bombs had to be rotating at a backspin speed of 500 rpm and dropped on the water from 60 feet while going precisely 220 mph or 180 mph depending on the dam.  There was the added factor of determining the exact distance from the dam to release the bomb.  The ingenuity used to perform these tasks successfully was one of the most extraordinary accomplishments of the war.  

Picture:  800 x 578  -  Classic Aircraft

The Lancaster’s cavernous bomb bay made it ideally suited for specialized tasks requiring enormous explosive force.  The German battleship Tirpitz capsized and sank from multiple strikes of 12,000 pound Tallboy bombs delivered by the Lancaster.  The 22,000 pound Grand Slam was used to crumble otherwise invincible submarine bunkers near the end of the war.  Not even the B-29 Super Fortress was capable of carrying ordnance of this size. 

Picture:  470 x 375  -  WW II Vehicles

The submission of your mortal enemy after years of warfare will certainly give one a feeling of relief if not a desire for delirious celebration.  Still, it’s been a disaster for most everyone involved.  The accomplishments of civilization lie in ruin, with families and lives destroyed.  It will take many years to rebuild to the point society was prior to war and much of civilization’s triumph of culture has been gutted and will never be recovered.  No sooner had we begun scrapping the tools of warfare designed to win World War II than we found ourselves needing to forge new implements of destruction to face a new threat and prepare ourselves for a potentially even more disastrous conflict.  New technology made the world too small for nations with competing needs and ideologies to behave neighborly.  Fortunately for the human species the leaders of the Cold War demonstrated just enough restraint to prevent a global cataclysm.         

Picture:  532 x 670  -  Flickr

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