Aircraft Virtual Tour
Avro Lancaster Bomber "Just Jane" (NX611)
The Lancaster is certainly an iconic and most interesting British aircraft. However, as it was built as a weapon of war, it could also be lethal to its own crews. Bomber command crews had a death rate of 44.4% and 55,573 were killed during the war.
They should be remembered.
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, home of "Just Jane" and former RAF bomber station East Kirkby, has a beautiful Memorial Chapel that's part of this virtual tour. Reading all the names on the wall panels is a reminder that they were not just numbers, but people with parents, wives, children and loved ones that never came home.
The photo below shows the Sibsey Lancaster Memorial, commemorating the crew of Lancaster ED503 from Nr. 9 Squadron which crashed at Sibsey Northlands in January 1943 killing all members of the crew. The Sibsey Lancaster Memorial Trust which maintains the memorial and holds an annual Memorial Service there, has a very active Facebook group and they deserve your support.
The inscription on the plinth reads
OF A LANCASTER BOMBER
WHICH CRASHED ON 29TH JANUARY 1943.
THIS MEMORIAL IS THEIR FAMILIES' TRIBUTE
OF LOVE AND REMEMBRANCE.
The crew of ED503 died in an accident. The aircraft was almost brand new, it had been delivered 6 days earlier from A.V.Roe (AVRO), and had only been in the air for a total of 85 minutes. The crew had been posted to 9 Sqn at RAF Waddington just two days before the crash.
On the day of the crash, they had been briefed for a raid on the German U-Boat pens at Lorient in France, but bad weather along the route and over the target meant that the mission was scrubbed. They were then tasked with undertaking a 'Flight Affiliation' training flight with a Spitfire from RAF Digby (the only Battle of Britain airfield in Lincolnshire). As the training flight was local to RAF Waddington, the Navigator was not required and was stood down. The aircraft and crew were lost during this training flight.
The son of Pilot Officer Cocks (the bomb aimer) still attends our annual Memorial Service.
About this Virtual Tour**Customer:** The client is the [Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre](http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/) in East Kirkby. The museum, on the site of the Bomber Commmand airfield [RAF East Kirkby](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_East_Kirkby), is the largest Bomber Command museum in the UK, and offers [taxy rides inside the Lancaster](http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/lancaster-taxy-rides/), certainly a unique experience!
Andrew Panton, Director Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre
Purpose: The museum is working hard to restore NX611 to airworthy condition. This virtual tour has been created to draw attention from all over the world to this unique aircraft, and to attract support and donations to keep "Just Jane" running and to continue the work to get her flying again.
- Canon 5D Mark II with Really Right Stuff L-Plate
- Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens, probably the best lens for panorama work
- Manfrotto 529B Hi-Hat low-level, heavy duty tripod
- Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head and Multi-Row Pano Elements Package
- Really Right Stuff carbon fibre monopod with MH-01 Pro momopod head for nadir shots
- Notebook computer with remote camera control software
How it was done: All photography inside the fuselage has been done with the camera remotely controlled via a laptop computer, to control focus stacking and exposure bracketing.
To have every detail in focus, from the closest to the lens (5 inch) to the furthest (almost infinite), focus stacking has been used. All photography has been done with available light only, using exposure bracketing. The combination of focus stacking and exposure bracketing means a large number of photos: Around 5000 photos were taken for the complete virtual tour.
The resulting photos have been processed using focus stacking software first, followed by HDR] processing. The resulting images have been edited, then stitched together, edited again, and then turned into a spherical panorama.
This interactive panorama exists in two different versions: One is using, if available, the Adobe Flash Player, the other uses HTML5. The Flash version allows viewing in screen mode, the HTML5 version works on almost all devices that don't have Flash (Apple mobile devices).
This Avro Lancaster B Mark VII, NX611, was built in April 1945 for the war in the Far East and ended in storage without seeing service. After an interesting career she was bought, in 1983, by Fred and Harold Panton as a monument to the memory of their brother Christopher, who was killed on the Nuremberg raid in March 1944.
General information about the Lancaster is available on Wikipedia.
The excellent website Lancaster Bombers of 49 Squadron contains PDF versions of "Pilot's Notes for Lancaster II", "Flight Engineer's Notes for Lancaster Aircraft", and ".303 Browning Gun Notes for Students", highly recommended!
There is also the Bomber Command History Forum with a large number of very knowledgeable members and a lot of information.
- Andrew Panton, grandson of museum founder Fred Panton, Lancaster pilot and event organiser
- The museum volunteers that helped in any possible way
- Garry Fenton (Aviation Art Profiles) for the Lancaster image used in the map and below
- Martin Keen (Silksheen Photography) for his static images
- James Huckle, of Aircraft Sound Recordings for the engine startup sound recording
The sections of the Lancaster Virtual Tour:
The rear view shows the FN.82 turret from behind, and allows direct access to the rear fuselage area, the mid-upper gunner's turret, the outside view near the crew door, and the Memorial Chapel. All modern cars have been edited out - with the crew bus, and the original 1943 hangar in sight, this view might be somewhat similar to the view at RAF East Kirkby during the war.
2) Rear Gunner
The rear gunner, commonly known as "Tail End Charlie", had the most lonely, cold, and dangerous job in the aircraft. The rear gunner was several metres away from the next crew member, the rear upper gunner, and, behind two closed doors (the sliding door and the draft door), he would have no visual contact to any other crew member, from take-off to landing. The rear of the fuselage was unheated, temperatures at 20,000ft could be around -40 degrees Celsius. The rear gunner was exposed to enemy fire.
Most Lancasters had four .303 machine guns. Late models, like this Lancaster B Mark VII, used a different turret, a Nash and Thompson FN.82 with two .5" (13.3mm) machine guns, with an ammunition capacity of 500 rounds for each gun.
There wasn't much activity in the rear fuselage area, between the rear gunner and the mid-upper gunner, during flight. The chemical toilet was there, in front of the rear spar, and the flare chute. Reconnaissance flares could be dropped to illuminate a target area, and dropping a "bomb flash" flare was neccessary to record the precision of an individual aircraft's bombing on film. "Window", the aluminium strips used to confuse the German radar, was also dropped through the flare chute.
Currently (Summer 2015) there is no real mid-upper turret fitted, unfortunately. NX611 "Just Jane" would have had a Martin CE250 turret, and restoration of a turret for Just Jane is currently going on.
The cupola currently fitted is for an FN.150 turret, fitted to Mk7 interims and Mk1,2,3 Lancasters at the time. Having only the cupola means that the view over the fuselage is excellent, from the front, with the astrodome and canopy in view, over both wings to the rear.
In almost all Lancasters this section of the fuselage would have housed a crew bunk bed. 101 Squadron had a system called Airbourne Cigar ("ABC") which used a set in this section. ABC was a radio jamming system used to disrupt communications between German fighter controllers on the ground and night fighter pilots.
"Just Jane" has an H2X set fitted, this is a post war modification.
The wireless operator (or "radio operator") on a Lancaster was in charge of all communications. In the later stage sof the war, on aicraft like Just Jane, equipped with the H2S ground scanning radar, he was also resposible for an early warning system called "Fishpond" to detect enemy fighters flying below the Lancaster.
A Lancaster bomber's navigator had a complicated job to do: Not only had he to find the target, he had to do so at night and often in bad weather, without sight of the ground or other aircraft. It wasn't just finding the target, it was following an often complicated course towards the target. And he had to find the way back to the UK and the right airfield. From celestial navigation, using the stars, over various systems using radio beams to H2S, the ground scanning radar, the navigator had to know them all to do his job.
The Lancaster bomber is a complex aircraft with four engines and the fuel-, oil-, and cooling systems necessary to run them. Then there is the hydraulics, pneumatics, and the electric system, the flight engineer is in charge of them all. He has a large number of controls and instruments in front and behind his collapsible seat. For more information about all the controls and instruments the CD "The Lancaster Explored" is highly recommended.
On the Lancaster there's only one pilot's workplace. Most British (and German) bombers of WWII didn't have a copilot. The instruments show the big steps forward in technology at the time - there is an autopilot and an early form of ILS. For more information about all the controls and instruments the CD "The Lancaster Explored" is highly recommended.
11) Bomb aimer
The bomb aimer, or "air bomber", had his "office" in the nose of the aircraft - either lying on the floor, assisting the navigator, aiming and releasing the bomb load, or, climbing in the cupola above, as the front gunner.
The front turret, a Nash and Thompson FN.5, is Just Jane's original turret. It used two .303" (7.7mm) Browning Mk. II guns, with 1,000 rounds per gun stored in boxes on both sides.
There is no panorama of the inside of the turret yet as there wasn't enough space to get a tripod in and to be able to position the camera.
The front view of Lancaster NX611 "Just Jane" shows the enormous bomb bay, and gives an impression about the size of the aircraft. It allows direct access to the Flight Enineer's station, to the Wireless Operator's station, and to the outside view near the crew door. All modern cars have been edited out - NAAFI at the front, and Just Jane's hangar at the side, this view might be somewhat similar to the view at RAF East Kirkby during the war.
13) Memorial Chapel
Over 55,500 RAF Bomber Command aircrew were killed, the highest attrition rate of any British unit. In the Memorial Chapel two panels display the names of the 845 aircrew and ground crew, from 57Sqn and 630Sqn, that died from RAF East Kirkby.
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre was set up by two brothers, Fred and Harold Panton, in memory of their brother, Christopher Whitton Panton, who was shot down and killed on a bombing raid over Nuremberg, where bomber command lost 106 aircraft and more men than during the Battle of Britain.
The Memorial Chapel is a somber, peaceful place allowing you time for quiet contemplation during your visit reflecting on the tremendous sacrifice made by Bomber Command. The panorama can only try to reflect the atmosphere.
Tail-End Charlies, by John Nichol and Tony Rennell, Pengiun Books, ISBN 0-670-91456-8
Luck and a Lancaster, by Harry Yates DFC, Airlife Classic, ISBN 1-84037-291-5
Lancaster Down, by Steve Darlow, Grub Street, ISBN 1-902304-48-9