The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

Aircraft have been my thing as far as I can remember.  They’ve been part of the family history for generations.  My great grandfather worked for the Grahame – White Company one of the earliest aviation firms in the UK.  My Grandfather joined the RAF when he was 16 and served on ground crew for the ill fated R-101.  It was a job so hated in the RAF that he and the rest of the ground crew cheered when they heard it had crashed in India.  Of course, my Grandfather got on the wrong side of the Head NCO and ended up on charges for some sort of infraction.  The only escape was to seek an overseas posting.  And that’s how he ended up in Mosul flying in Wapitis.  After more than a few frontier adventures, he ended back in England just in time for the Phoney War and then the very not phoney, Battle of Britain and the Blitz.  He was posted to No1 Bomber Group 626 Squadron where he served the duration of the war keeping Lancasters flying.  After the war he demobbed but soon found himself drawn back to aircraft.  He ended up working on the only other current flying Lancaster, “The City of Lincoln.”

Today was the Vintage Car and Plane show at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and I took a run out.  There’ll be a separate article covering that.  This is about the last bit of my Lancaster journey.

When I took my flight two years ago, because of the need for a pilot and copilot (the original configuration for the Lanc was one pilot only), you had no access to the nose of the aircraft.  Today at the show, for a nominal fee you could get up into the nose and then move through to the rear of the aircraft.

With a bit of illumination

The cockpit without pilots.

With pilots. If it looks cramped, it’s because it is.

 

From the top turret looking forward – in flight.

 

Done with the nose, I moved aft.  When I had my flight, the rear bulkhead doors were closed to the tail gun.  The Tail gun was one of the places of the aircraft I was most interested to see from the inside.  My other grandfather was a tail gunner.  He did not survive the war.  He and his aircraft were shot down over The Netherlands on the way back from their mission.  They only found his and the pilot’s body. and they were seventy six miles apart.  He wasn’t in a Lancaster, he was in the older, radial engined Sterling Mk. III.  They were slower than the Lancs and couldn’t fly as high so they were more vulnerable to flak and night fighters.  Two months after his fatal raid, the unit was converted to B-17s and made into a special services squadron.

The loneliest place on the plane.

The outside of his, “Office.”

I was just glad to finally get a look at the turret from the inside.

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