Aviation of World War II

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The Lancaster bomber evokes a sense of affection mingled with pride in the British and the British Commonwealth, much like the B-17 Flying Fortress in the Americans. If the Spitfire personified the fighting spirit of the Commonwealth in the face of a seemingly inevitable defeat, then the sight and sound of the engines of the Lancastrian armadas embarking on a night raid into the center of Nazi Germany embodied the desire of war-weary people to see the German war machine destroyed.

Like all successful aircraft, "Lancaster" had not only good flight characteristics, but also a beautiful appearance. Ironically, the mighty Avro bomber owes its birth to a failure that befell its immediate predecessor, Manchester.

From the very beginning of the tests of the Manchester prototype, when it became clear that the 24-cylinder Walchers did not develop their design capacity, the Avro designers began to develop alternative projects. Under the designation "Manchester" Mk II, a twin-engine version of the aircraft was considered, on which the "Walchers" were supposed to be replaced by engines Nepir "Saber" or Bristol "Centaurus". The four-engine version was designated Manchester Mk III. Work on it went ahead of schedule and, after their success became obvious, the development of a two-engine version was abandoned.

The glider of the production Manchester, the VT308, was fitted with a new center wing section, which housed four reliable Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines. The first flight of the prototype, on January 9, 1941, convinced Roy Dobson and his designers that they chose the right path.

Doubling the number of engines made it possible to increase the maximum bomb load of the Manchester from 4694 kg to 5443/6350 kg, the fuel reserve increased from 6435 to 8153 liters, and the flight range increased from 1930 to 3780 km. The bomber command now had a bomber capable of striking targets deep in Nazi-occupied Europe, had a heavy bomb load and could withstand enemy air defenses. The ceiling of the new car was more than double the Manchester's measly 3,048 meters. Even more important for the crews making deep raids behind enemy lines was the high reliability of the Merlin engines, which provided them with additional safety.

Official tests at Boscombe Down, held in March 1941, showed that in the range of indicated speeds of 160 - 466 km / h the elevators and ailerons worked well, but the load on the steering wheel increased with increasing speed. During takeoff, the aircraft had a strong tendency to turn to the left, but this problem was solved by throttling the left external engine and quickly raising the tail of the car, which allowed the pilot to use the vertical tail to parry.