Saturday, 16 August 2014

Flying Into History





Kent reverberated to the sound of the mighty Merlins this afternoon after an air display by the Battle of Britain Flight: two Lancasters escorted by an element of Spitfires. It is very unlikely that anyone will ever see Lancasters flying in formation ever again.

The Lancaster was arguably the best bomber of WWII, capable of carrying bigger bomb loads further than anything else.

The Lancaster fleet grew to around one thousand aircraft by the end of '44. The night battles with the Luftwaffe over Germany pioneered modern air warfare. Lancasters were equipped with radio navigation, ground following radar, fighter warning radar and electronic countermeasures. The fleet bombed on illuminated flares placed by pathfinder Lancs controlled by an airborne command plane. In the bomber stream were wild-weasel electronic warfare planes to interfere with the Ludtwaffe's night fighter control systems.

Losses were horrendous as the wings were full of petrol. Few crews survived a tour of duty in the night bomber fleets. One was my uncle who flew as navigator in an Australian -crewed Wellington. They even survived being raked by a night fighter's 'jazz music' cannon over Berlin although the navigator's chair was blown out of the plane - fortunately my uncle was passing the pilot a course correction at the time.

The men who crewed this historic aeroplane fought and died so my generation wouldn't have to live in fear of the concentration camp and the gas chamber.


Last look.

21 comments:

  1. Thats an awesome sight- my Grandfather was a Rolls Royce Merlin engine specialist during the war and spent many years in Spits, Lancs and MTBs tinkering with their engines.

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    1. Interesting Paul, thanks for sharing that.

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  2. Hard to beat that awesome sound!

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    1. There is nothing that sounds like a Merlin.

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  3. Like.

    Must remember to bung my £10 in the 'Vulcan to the skies' pot this year as well..

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  4. I saw them myself yesterday at Airbourne, a truly magnificent sight.

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  5. Saw this story on the news earlier in the week. Great to see the photos of the two actually in flight. Even better if I can get to see them for myself.

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  6. We sent ours over to help put. My Dad has fond memories of hearing them over London outbound for Germany.

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  7. What a fantastic sight it would have been. Thanks for sharing.
    cheers

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  8. Was this at combined ops? Missed it again for the 3rd year in a row due to family holidays. Must time them better (simon)

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    1. Yes, the Headcorn Combined Ops show. I recommend it: well run, easy to park, plenty of room and lots of things to see including the local Museum.

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  9. Ach! Saw this on the news. I'm soooo jealous, but equally very pleased for you, John.

    I guess your uncle was lucky to be in a Wellington - I guess that famous lattie frame could withstand a lot of punishment...

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    1. There are some advantages to living in the crowded, polluted south east. :

      Yeah, it was a hell of a flight for my uncle. The Ozzie pilot put the wellington in a steep dive which blew out the flames but then they couldn't pull out of it. He jettisoned the bombs and tried again and this time the plane responded. Later in the war he navigated Liberators from Gib to Australia.

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  10. I'd wish I had been able to see this, so rather envious to say the least!

    I used to live near to Duxford and my old school was used as a visual forming up point for their flying days, so we often had a great view of the Battle of Britain flight etc. One day and Spitfire and ME-109 had a 'dog-fight' whilst waiting their turn in the skies over our house, which was just superb; the sound of the Merlin engine, the planes flying in and out of the clouds has stayed with me ever since. Truly awesome.

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  11. It was an astonishing thing to witness, Steve.

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  12. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

    Greetings
    Peter

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