Avro Lancaster

Heavy strategic night bomber Avro Lancaster of the Royal Air Force.
History, development, service, specifications, pictures and 3D model.

Splendid picture taken from beside the pilot of a Lancaster
A rare British color photography from World War II. This splendid picture was taken from beside the pilot of a Lancaster of 50 Sqn at Swinderby, August 1942.

Avro Lancaster bomber.

Avro Lancaster
Type: British heavy bomber.


Unquestionably one of the leading significance aircraft of WW2, as well as one of the finest planes of aviation history, the Avro Lancaster came to exist as a result of the fiasco of its forerunner.
In September 1936 the Air Staff released requirements P13/36 for a twin-engined bomber of outstanding dimensions as well as capability to be run by a pair of the very strong power plants at this time under construction: the Rolls-Royce Vulture 24-cylinder X power plant had been favored.

Handley Page swapped to 4 Merlin engines for the Halifax bomber, nevertheless Avro followed the big-twin blueprint and the initial Type 679 Avro Manchester flew on July 25, 1939. Totally 209 Manchesters were produced by November 1941, however the aircraft had been suffering from the unreliability and inadequate performance of the power plants. Although it was supplied to 8 Bomber Command squadrons, as well as elements of 2 others along with a flight in Coastal Command, the Manchester had been removed from operation in June 1942 and survivors had been scrapped.
However, the general Manchester had been definitely remarkably great, and in 1940 the choice had been taken up to develop a longer-span model with 4 Merlin power plants.

The initial Lancaster (BT 308) flew as the Manchester III at the start of 1941. So excellent was its capabilities that it entered instant large-scale manufacturing, and Manchesters currently on the line from L7527 onwards had been finished as Lancasters (recognized from afterwards planes by their row of rectangular windows inside rear fuselage).

Operations started at the beginning of 1942 by 44 Sqn at Waddington, and on 17 April 1942 a combined force of 44 and 97 Squadrons launched a somewhat foolhardy daylight raid against the MAN plant at Augsburg, whereupon the fresh bomber’s presence had been discovered.

From this day until the end of WW2 Lancasters fly 156,000 sorties in Europe as well as dropped 608,612 long tons of bombs.
Overall manufacturing, together with 430 built in Canada by Victory Aircraft, had been 7,377 Lancasters. Of these 3.425 had been Mk I and 3,039 the Mk III using US Packard-built power plants.


Users: RAF (British, Canadian and Polish squadrons), Canada, New Zealand (for all variants)

button go here to Part II: Lancaster Special and Mk II, service performance and video

3D Model Avro Lancaster Bomber Mk I

Specifications for Avro 683 Lancaster Mk I and Mk II


SpecificationMk IMk II
Typeheavy strategic night bomber
Power plant four Rolls-Royce Merlin 20 engines, each with 1,460 hp four Bristol Hercules VI 14-cylinder two-row, sleeve-valve radials engines, each with 1,650 hp
Wing span 102 ft 0 in (31.10 m)
Length overall 64 ft 9 in (21.10 m)
Height overall 19 ft 7 in (5.97 m)
Weight empty 36,900 lb (16.705 kg)
Weight loaded 68,000 lb (30.800 kg)
Maximum speed 287 mph at 11,500 ft
Cruising speed 210 mph at 11,500 ft(462 km/hr at 3,500 m)
Climb time 41 minutes (with maximum weight) to 20,000 ft (6,095 m)
Service ceiling 24,500 ft (7,467 m)
Range 1,660 miles with 14,000 lb bombs (2,675 km with 6,350 kg bombs); maximum 2,685 miles (4,320 km)


SpecificationMk IMk II
Power turrets 2 with each 2 x 0.303in Browning (nose, mid-upper) 3 with each 2 x 0.303in Browning (nose, mid-upper, vertal)
Tail turret 1 with 4 x 0.303in Browning
MGs total 810
Bomb load bomb bay for normal load of 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) bombs maximum bomb load of 22,000 lb (9,979 kg) bombs

Service statistics:

Avro 683 Lancasterfigures
First flight9 January 1941
Service deliverySeptember 1941 (Mk II not later than October 1942)
First combat mission17 April 1942
Final delivery2 February 1946
Withdrawal from serviceFebruary 1954
Total production figure Total: 7,366 (of these 300 Mk II, 3,425 Mk I and 3,039 Mk III)
Price per unit £ 40,000 = c.$ 190,000
Operations in WW2 156,192 (148,403 as bomber)
Losses 3,832 (40.76 ops per loss)
Bomb tonnage on targets 608,612 t (4.1 tons per bomber op)

Bomber Commands Order of Battle, April 1945

By April 1945, Bomber Command’s frontline strength was almost entirely dominated by the Avro Lancaster, with three groups fully equipped and another converting.

Bomber Command Order of Battle April 1945:

No 1 Group (HQ Bawtry)BinbrookNo 460 SqnLancaster
Elsham WoldsNo 100 SqnLancaster
Elsham WoldsNo 103 SqnLancaster
Elsham WoldsNo 576 SqnLancaster
FaldingworthNo 300 SqnLancaster
HemswellNo 170 SqnLancaster
KelsternNo 625 SqnLancaster
KirmingtonNo 166 SqnLancaster
Ludford MagnaNo 101 SqnLancaster
North KillingholmeNo 550 SqnLancaster
ScamptonNo 153 SqnLancaster
WickenbyNo 12 SqnLancaster
WickenbyNo 626 SqnLancaster
No 2 Group (HQ Huntingdon(transferred to 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force)
No 3 Group (HQ Exning)ChedburghNo 218 SqnLancaster
East WrethamNo 115 SqnLancaster
MepalNo 75 (NZ) SqnLancaster
MethwoldNo 149 SqnLancaster
MidenhallNo XV SqnLancaster
MiddenhallNo 622 SqnLancaster
StradishallNo 186 SqnLancaster
TuddenhamNo 90 SqnLancaster
TuddenhamNo 138 SqnLancaster
WaterbeachNo 514 SqnLancaster
WitchfordNo 115 SqnLancaster
Wratting CommonNo 195 SqnLancaster
No 4 Group (HQ York)(total 11 squadrons)still fully Halifax equipped
No 5 Group (HQ Grantham)BaldertonNo 277 SqnLancaster
BardneyNo IX SqnLancaster
ConingsbyNo 83 SqnLancaster
ConingsbyNo 97 SqnLancaster
East KirkbyNo 57 SqnLancaster
East KirkbyNo 630 SqnLancaster
FulbeckNo 189 SqnLancaster
MetheringhamNo 106 SqnLancaster
ScamptonNo 57 SqnLancaster
SkellingthorpeNo 50 SqnLancaster
SkellingthorpeNo 61 SqnLancaster
SpilsbyNo 44 SqnLancaster
SpilsbyNo 207 SqnLancaster
SyerstonNo 49 SqnLancaster
WaddingtonNo 463 SqnLancaster
WaddingtonNo 467 SqnLancaster
Woodhall SpaNo 617 SqnLancaster
No 6 (RCAF) Group (HQ Alierton Park, Knaresborough)CroftNo 431 SqnLancaster
CroftNo 434 SqnLancaster
East MoorNo 432 SqnHalifax
LeemingNo 427 SqnLancaster
LeemingNo 429 SqnLancaster
Linton-on-OuseNo 408 SqnLancaster
Linton-on-OuseNo 426 SqnHalifax
Middleton St GeorgeNo 419 SqnLancaster
Middleton St GeorgeNo 428 SqnLancaster
Skipton-on-SwaleNo 424 SqnLancaster
Skipton-on-SwaleNo 433 SqnLancaster
TholthorpeNo 420 Sqn(converting to Lancaster)
TholthorpeNo 425 Sqn(converting to Lancaster)
No 8 (Pathfinder) Group (HQ Eyton)(partially equipped with DH Mosquitos)
Downham MarketNo 635 SqnLancaster
Gransden LodgeNo 405 SqnLancaster
GraveleyNo 35 SqnLancaster
Little StaughtonNo 582 SqnLancaster
OakingtonNo 7 SqnLancaster
UpwoodNo 156 SqnLancaster

button go here to Part II: Lancaster Special and Mk II, service performance and video

References and literature

The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)
Combat Aircraft of World War II (Bill Gunston)
Technik und Einsatz der Kampfflugzeuge vom 1. Weltkrieg bis heute (Ian Parsons)
Das große Buch der Luftkämpfe (Ian Parsons)
Luftkrieg (Piekalkiewicz)
Flugzeuge des 2. Weltkrieges (Andrew Kershaw)
The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force (James J. Halley)
Bomber Command Handbook 1939-1945 (Jonathan Falconer)
Lancaster Squadrons 1942-43 & 1944-45 (Jon Lake)

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