Military Aviation

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster bomber to get new paint scheme for 2017 airshow season

Avro Lancaster PA474

Taken on Oct. 6, 2016 at RAF Coningsby the images in this post show Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Avro Lancaster PA474 departing to Duxford ahead of a 6 month major service.

In fact Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford airfield will carry out scheduled maintenance on the iconic World War II bomber before its return to Coningsby in Spring 2017.

Noteworthy PA474, that is one of only two Lancaster aircraft remaining in airworthy condition in the world (the other is the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum example) is regularly repainted with squadron markings representative of those that operated the Lancaster in World War II and can be seen at many airshows.

PA474’s current paint scheme represents Lancaster DV385 “Thumper Mk III” and features the code letters “KC-A.” Thumper Mk III was delivered to 617 Squadron as replacement after Operation Chastise, the famous “Dams Raid,” in 1943.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster bomber new paint scheme

This Lancaster arrived to the unit in November 1943, whilst the Squadron was based at Coningsby, and it performed 4 missions from Coningsby before 617 Squadron moved to Woodhall Spa in January 1944. Its nose art features the cartoon rabbit, from the 1942 Walt Disney cartoon ‘Bambi,’ holding a foaming pint of beer.

Even if Thumper Mk III flew a total of 50 missions, the “bomb log” under the cockpit on PA474 features only 35 of them as shown in a wartime photograph. Among the bomb symbols there is also the “D” for Operation “Taxable” (the “spoof” D-Day chaff mission on Jun. 5 and on Jun. 6, 1944) as well as a swastika denoting a kill scored against a German fighter. Furthermore Thumper Mk III dropped a total of 15 of the huge “Tallboy” “earthquake”’ bombs. It took part in several important missions, such as the first Tallboy raid against the Saumur railway tunnel on Jun. 8, 1944 and several raids against “V” weapon sites. Between February and August 1944, the aircraft was mostly flown by Flying Officer (later Flight Lieutenant) Bob Knights and his crew.

Thumper Mk III was also involved in the two missions conducted against the battleship Tirpitz in Tromso Fjord on Oct. 28 and on Nov. 12, 1944, flown by Flying Officer John Castagnola, who claimed a direct hit against the ship on the last raid.

When the Lancaster returns to Coningsby, she will be carrying a new paint scheme and markings to tell the story of another gallant aircraft and crew.

Photo credit: SAC Jack Welson / Crown Copyright

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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