Lancaster, The Inside Story

B2040

This is a pocket-size book that contains a large number of quality photographs, with concise text, that provides an outstanding review of the iconic Lancaster heavy bomber. There is also coverage of the less successful Manchester twin engine bomber that received four Merlin engines, to become arguably the most successful bomber in aviation history. Many enthusiasts will buy copies of this pocket book because it provides a compact, but comprehensive, review of the Lancaster with some great photographs. There is also coverage of the Lancastrian that was a rapid but successful civil conversion to restart civil aviation after WWII, and which took part in the Berlin Airlift that was the first battle of the Cold War.

Where this book is particularly valuable is that it is aggressively priced and affordable to young readers, or their fond relatives. It is all too easy for publishers to content themselves with eBooks as low cost reading material, but there is no substitute for a durable pocket sized book that can be carried around and and read in any spare moment. There is recent research to suggest a renewed interest amongst the young to read printed books, rather than to use an eBook reader or a personal computer. There is also research to suggest that printed books help to develop readership skills and subject involvement in a way that electronic systems do not.

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NAME: Lancaster, The Inside Story
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 270914
FILE: R2040
AUTHOR: David Curnock
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 95
PRICE: £7.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Heavy bomber, four engine bomber, bouncing bombs, Grand Slam, Tall Boy, night bombing, earthquake bombs, 10 ton bomb, Manchester. York, Lancastrian, Shackleton.
ISBN: 978-0-85733-717-7
IMAGE: B2040.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/n53gson
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This is a pocket-size book that contains a large number of quality photographs, with concise text, that provides an outstanding review of the iconic Lancaster heavy bomber. There is also coverage of the less successful Manchester twin engine bomber that received four Merlin engines, to become arguably the most successful bomber in aviation history. Many enthusiasts will buy copies of this pocket book because it provides a compact, but comprehensive, review of the Lancaster with some great photographs. There is also coverage of the Lancastrian that was a rapid but successful civil conversion to restart civil aviation after WWII, and which took part in the Berlin Airlift that was the first battle of the Cold War.

Where this book is particularly valuable is that it is aggressively priced and affordable to young readers, or their fond relatives. It is all too easy for publishers to content themselves with eBooks as low cost reading material, but there is no substitute for a durable pocket sized book that can be carried around and and read in any spare moment. There is recent research to suggest a renewed interest amongst the young to read printed books, rather than to use an eBook reader or a personal computer. There is also research to suggest that printed books help to develop readership skills and subject involvement in a way that electronic systems do not.

The subject of this book is an internationally recognized icon that holds an appeal beyond the aircraft enthusiast. This in much the same category as the steam engine which has somehow become of interest to people who do not necessarily have any major interest in transport or technology generally. The number of people who have turned out during 2014 to see the two flying Lancasters touring Britain demonstrates the depth of interest across generations and normal interests.

In 1940, Britain needed to significantly upgrade its bomber force to take the battle to the German homeland. The twin engine Wellington was doing sterling work and proved to be a popular aircraft with its crews who valued the resilience of its unique construction system, its heavy defensive armament and its versatile bomb bay that allowed a versatility in the mix of bomb types and sizes. The other types, including the Hampden and Whitley twin engine bombers, were obsolescent at the outbreak of war and it was already clear that the RAF would need much larger aircraft, with longer range and much greater bomb loads, but in 1940 high priority had to go to the Hurricane and Spitfire production, with its demand for the outstanding Rolls Royce Merlin engine. That shortage of Merlin engines for other aircraft types encouraged designers to consider using less effective engines and attempting to provide heavy bombers with only two engines. The Avro Manchester was one such aircraft. The general design, construction and equipment of the Manchester was a considerable step forward in bomber design, but it was let down by its two RR Vulture engines. Avro reworked the design to employ four Merlin engines and the transformation of a disappointing Manchester into a world-beating Lancaster was amazing.

Initially, the Lancaster was intended to include a twin gun ventral turret in addition to a four gun tail turret and twin gun turrets in the dorsal and nose positions. That ventral turret was soon deleted and, to reduce weight for some special missions, the dorsal turret was also removed. Some Lancasters replaced the four Browning .303 tail turret with the Rose twin .50 Browning turret and some consideration was given to replacing all rifle calibre guns with 20 mm canon, but the overwhelming number of Lancasters flew with a four gun tail turret and twin turrets at dorsal and nose positions.

The performance for such a large aircraft was excellent and pilots threw it around the skies with almost the panache of fighter pilots in their nimble single engine machines. What really made the Lancaster a success was its the long and uninterrupted bay for carrying bombs, its ability to carry exceptionally heavy bomb loads, aided its adaptability as a bomber. This meant that it could carry a wide mixture of bomb types and sizes, typically including mixed loads of blast bombs and incendiaries which proved so destructive to German towns when dropped by a large force of RAF night bombers, followed by a similarly large force of USAAF day bombers. The incendiaries started fires which were then fanned by the blast bombs, rapidly building temperatures and creating fire storms of great intensity that then pulled in more and more air to create hurricanes of fire that destroyed anything in their path. The Lancaster was adapted to carry bouncing bombs for the destruction of dams and although only one raid was attempted, with high casualties, it was devastating to German reservoirs, populations below the dams and the German steel production. It was also a huge morale booster for Britons who had been suffering German terror bombing. Towards the end of the war, the Lancaster was also uniquely able to carry a single large earthquake bomb, initially of 5 tons weight and then of an amazing 10 tons, allowing high value targets, bunkers, ships and tunnels, to be destroyed from the air. Putting that in perspective, US four engine heavy bombers were limited to less than 5 tons total bomb load and compartmented bomb bays further reduced the size of any single bomb that could be carried.

The competitive RAF four engine bombers, the Sterling and the Halifax, were built in some numbers but never achieved the same versatility and performance of the Lancaster. They also failed to create the level of affection and confidence that the Lancaster achieved amongst its crews.

Later in the war, the RAF was able to divert some Lancasters to Coastal Command and there it performed as outstandingly in maritime patrol and attack as it had in the bombing role. It was in the maritime patrol role that Lancasters continued on in service with a number of air forces, well into the 1950s, also forming the basis of the design of the RAF Shackleton maritime patrol aircraft that was later adapted into an AEW aircraft, flying on well past any reasonable life expectation, swapping spares with museum aircraft to remain in service until the Boeing jet-powered AWACS became available.

From 1945, many Lancasters were converted into passenger and freight aircraft, filling the gap until aircraft manufacturers could switch from military to civil design and production to meet the growing demand for civil aircraft. As the Lancastrian, modified Lancasters were used on long range routes around the world in both passenger and freight roles until new-build designs, based on the Lancaster could be brought into operation and then replaced by civil aircraft that were designed from the start for civil use. In the bombing role, the Lincoln, developed from the Lancaster, served on well into the jet age.

The author has done a very good job of capturing this amazing aircraft, and its relations, in a very compact book that is to be highly commended.

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