We are delighted to announce that, subject to serviceability, we will have a flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster aircraft on Carnival Day, Saturday 30th June 2018.
The Flypast is expected to take place mid-afternoon but the exact timings will not be confirmed until a couple of weeks beforehand so please keep checking our website and Facebook page for the updated details.
The Avro Lancaster is the most famous and successful Royal Air Force heavy bomber of World War Two. It is a legend that lives on today and the contribution made by the aircraft and its crews to the freedom of our nation will, hopefully, never be forgotten. The prototype Lancaster took to the air for its first flight from Ringway, Manchester, on 9th January 1941; the first production Lancaster flew later that year on 31st October.
2018 is a very special year for the Lancaster as it is 75 years since the famous ‘Dambusters Raid’. The Raid also known as Operation Chastise was an attack on the major dams of western Germany, carried out during the night of 16/17 May 1943 by 19 Lancasters of the RAF’s 617 Squadron using a purpose-built ‘bouncing bomb’ developed by Sir Barnes Wallis. The Derbyshire dams of the Derwent Valley and Eyebrook Reservoir were amongst practice sites used in preparation for the Raid.
The story of the Lancasters that left RAF Scampton on 16th May 1943 is utterly remarkable for so many reasons. There was the ingenuity of the weapon they carried – a purpose-built bomb, codenamed Upkeep, designed to bounce along the surface of water like a skimming stone to avoid obstacles placed in its way. The skill and bravery of the pilots who flew at night, at 100ft (30m) or less over enemy territory is simply breathtaking. The aircraft that did make it to the Dams pressed home their attacks with a reckless disregard for the safety of the crews ensuring that 2 dams were breached, and a 3rd was damaged. As flood water surged down the German valleys, factories and infrastructure were badly affected. The combination of science, flying skill, grit and the obvious impact of the raids made it front page news around the world. No raid mounted by so few aircraft had ever caused such extensive material damage. It did not bring German war production to a permanent halt, but nobody had expected it to.
In total, 53 of the 133 aircrew who participated in the Dambusters Raid were killed, and 3 were captured by the Germans. Thirteen of those killed were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and 2 belonged to the Royal Australian Air Force.
Of the survivors, 34 were decorated at Buckingham Palace on 22nd June 1943, with Wing Commander Guy Gibson, Officer Commanding 617 Squadron, awarded the Victoria Cross. The last surviving member of the Dambusters Raid is 96-year-old Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson. Johnny Johnson’s role in Operation Chastise was as a bomb aimer on one of the Lancasters that attacked the Sorpe Dam.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight operates from RAF Coningsby, a Typhoon and fighter base, in Lincolnshire.
The mission of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is to honour the thousands of men and women, in the air and on the ground, that gave their lives for this country in the noble pursuit of freedom.
Flown by regular serving RAF Aircrew, the Flight operates 6 Spitfires, 2 Hurricane Mk 2Cs, a Lancaster as well as a C47 Dakota and 2 Chipmunk aircraft (primarily used for training). From May to September each year, these aircraft can be regularly seen in the skies over the UK celebrating and commemorating public and military events from State occasions such as Trooping the Colour to major air displays and simple flypasts for public events.