On This Day: 9th Jan 1941 – Maiden Flight of Lancaster Bomber

laterThe Avro Lancaster first flew on 9th January 1941, it would not enter service for another year.

Roy Chadwick the chief designer at Avro had designed the two engined Manchester bomber to a Air Ministry specification. It was not a success and there were particular problems with the powerful Rolls Royce Vulture engines, which were unreliable. Chadwick independently started to develop the design of the airframe to accommodate four of the tried and tested Rolls Royce Merlin engines. From this process the Lancaster bomber emerged, destined to become the principal aircraft of Bomber Command and one of the most famous aircraft ever built. Sam Brown the test pilot of Avro described the aircrafts performance following the test flight as ‘marvellous- easy to fly and light on the controls’.

Roy Chadwick was a driven man, demanding of those working for him but also of himself. When Chadwick’s daughter, who watched the flight alongside her father, suggested he should be very pleased he merely replied ‘Yes I am, but in this business one cannot rest on one’s laurels. There is always another and another aircraft’.

lanGround staff fueling and bombing-up a Lancaster before take off on a night operation.  The mechanic in the foreground lying on a bed of incendiary bombs, was not being slacking, but waiting for the bomb-chamber to be prepared before loading up.


Great Cutaway drawing showing the interior of the Lancaster.

Role Heavy bomber
Manufacturer Avro
Designer Roy Chadwick
First flight 9 January 1941
Introduction February 1942
Retired 1963 (Canada)
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Number built 7,377
Unit cost £45-50,000
Developed from Avro Manchester
Variants Avro Lancastrian
Developed into Avro York
Avro Lincol


The plane bursts into life. 55,573 airmen died helping to defeat Hitler during the Second World War
l1bThe famous 460 Squadron (Australia) Lancaster bomber ‘G’ George resting at Binbrook, Lincolnshire, after completing 90 operations over enemy territory during WWII

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