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The Avro Lancaster was designed by Roy Chadwick who also designed the legendary Avro Vulcan. The Lancaster was developed as a four engined heavy bomber and was based on the smaller yet visually similar Avro Manchester twin engined bomber. The Lancaster became famous for its long range and extremely heavy bomb load coupled with the ability to modified to carry special bombs such as the bouncing bomb and the Tall Boy/Grand Slam family of bombs used to sink the Tirpitz. In all, over 7,377 Lancasters were built mainly serving with the RAF, RCAF and RAAF - 3,249 were lost in combat. Post war the Lancaster was often used for testing purposes but also saw short service as a transatlantic airliner called the Lancastrian. Today there are just two Lancasters left airworthy in the world, one with the RAF and the other is flown in Canada.
The Lancaster B.1 entered service during February 1942 with 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington and flew their first combat sortie during March deploying mines. The Lancaster formed part of a heavy bomber triad in RAF service alongside the Shorts Stirling and Handley Page Halifax, both of which had been produced to a similar specification. The Lancaster in RAF service is well known in popular culture for it's role in the 1943 Operation Chastise by 617 Squadron to destroy the German Dams using unique bouncing bombs. A mission immortalised by the 1955 movie, The Dam Busters.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will once again be displaying in the skies above RAF Fairford providing a living reminder of the sacrifice and heroism shown by RAF and Commonwealth pilots throughout the Second World War. Their Lancaster, PA474, was built in Chester in 1945 and was planned to be deployed to the Far East but never did see combat service. Following the war, the aircraft was used for reconnaissance duties before being used for trials work with new wing designs attached to the fuselage. Following restoration by 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington, PA474 was transferred in airworthy condition to the BBMF in 1973.