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Two Lancasters, with a Spitfire and a Hurricane

Ten Rolls Royce Merlin v-12 engines in harmony

For a few short weeks in August and September 2014 the world's only two surviving airworthy Avro Lancaster bombers spent many hours together flying over the English countryside, often accompanied by one or more of their little fighter friends. In this case the bombers were escorted by a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight.

The two Lancaster bombers fly a short display pass over R.A.F. Marham in Norfolk, accompanied by a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane. It's been a very long time since there were two Lanc's flying over the Norfolk countryside.  Photo: © Alex Mitchell, Historical Aviation Film Unit

In 2014 the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum decided to fly their airworthy Avro Lancaster bomber to the United Kingdome in order that it could be displayed alongside the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster Mk.III (PA474). This would be the first time in many decades that two Lancasters would be seen together in UK skies.

Thousands of Canadians served with RCAF and RAF Lancaster squadrons in England, during the Second World War, and by late 1944 the Canadian No. 6 Group of Bomber Command operated thirteen squadrons of Lancasters in RAF service. After the war, around 230 Lancasters served with the RCAF in several roles including Arctic reconnaissance, maritime patrol, and as a bomber.

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The CWHM's Lancaster was built at Victory Aircraft, Malton in July 1945, but later in 1952 it suffered a serious accident and received a replacement wing centre section from a Lancaster that had flown in combat over Germany. It served as a maritime patrol aircraft, initially with No. 405 Squadron, and then later with No. 107 Rescue Unit in Newfoundland for many years, and was eventually retired from RCAF service in late 1963.

The aircraft is dedicated to the memory of P/O Andrew Mynarski and is painted in the colours of his aircraft KB726 – VR-A, which flew with RCAF No. 419 (Moose) Squadron. Mynarski won the Victoria Cross, on June 13, 1944 when his aircraft was shot down in flames by a German night fighter. As the bomber fell out of control he attempted to free the tail gunner trapped in the rear turret, a rescue that was ultimately succesful. The gunner miraculously survived the crash and lived to tell the story, but sadly Mynarski died later from severe burns.

The sound of so many Rolls Royce Merlins harmonising together once again is simply magical, and reminescent of a by-gone era. The Canadian aircraft (VR-A) is one of 430 Lancaster Mk. X's that were built in Canada during WW2.

Of the 17 surviving and largely intact Lancasters known to exist around the world but only these two are airworthy. Another Lancaster, Just Jane, which is based in East Kirkby at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, is able to taxi but is not currently airworthy.

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