You’re sitting in the cockpit of an Avro Lancaster bomber, perhaps the best-known British heavy bomber of all time.
Behind you, a massive wing, two close-cowled Rolls Royce Merlins rumbling away on either side of the Dam Buster. Good company. You reach the threshold. The engines are throttled back, provoking a healthy, satisfying crackle from the stub exhausts. The Lancaster’s throttles are inched forward again, one engine at a time, testing the magnetos, exercising the airscrews. The Merlins snarl, the airframe shudders against the brakes.
All set! The snarl becomes an all-enveloping roar. The seat presses into your back. The torque tries to drag the Lancaster off the runway, but skilful manipulation of the throttles brings her back. The tail comes up. The rudders come alive. The problem with the torque goes away. She’s running straight and true now. She lifts off. “Gear up!”The Lancaster eases into a turn. You’re flying.
That body of water ahead could be the North Sea, it could be 1943, and you could be setting out on a dam raid on Germany. But the body of water is in fact, Lake Ontario, Canada. The time is now, and you have a more peaceful mission…Enjoy!
This documentary puts you into the cockpit of the Lancaster owned and operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. It’s a rare experience, because this is one of only two Avro Lancasters bombers still flying, anywhere in the world.
The Lancaster is perhaps best known for the famous “Dam Raids” in May, 1943, when aircraft of the RAF’s 617 Squadron attacked the Möhne, Eder, Sorpe and Ennepe dams in the Ruhr, using the revolutionary “bouncing bomb” designed by Dr Barnes Wallis. Later in the war, Lancasters carried the concrete-piercing Tallboy and Highball bombs, also designed by Wallis. This aircraft is flown from its base at Hamilton, Ontario, by Don Schofield, a retired Air Canada captain. Multiple cameras provide detailed coverage in the cockpit, while footage obtained from accompanying B-25, Harvard, and Bell Jetranger provide a spectacular aerial perspective. We know of some people who have bought this DVD just to hear the Merlins roar!
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