Aviation of World War II

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Medium Bomber


AVRo Manchester

AVRO 679 MANCHESTER - Designed under the direction of Roy Chadwick, the Avro 679 Avro Manchester was a twin-engined medium bomber to Specification P. 13/36, ordered in 1937 for competitive evaluation with the Handley Page HP.56. Powered by two 1,760 hp Vulture IX-type engines, the first of two prototypes flew on July 25, 1939, unarmed and with twin fins and rudders; a third, cen-tral fin was added after early flight tests. The second prototype flew on May 26, 1940, with two 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine guns each in nose, tail and ventral Frazer Nash turrets, and wing span increased from 80 ft 2 in (24.45 m) to 90 ft 1 in (27.48 m). The ventral turret was later replaced by a dorsal FN 7 turret, also with two guns, and production aircraft to this configuration were ordered to Specification 19/37.

Avro Manchester Mk I: Initial production batch of 200 ordered from Avro, Avro Manchester, in December 1937, and 100 ordered from Metropolitan-Vickers Ltd, Trafford Park, in 1939. Deliveries began on July 31, 1940, from Avro assembly line and on March 10, 1941, from Metrovick, production terminating at 157 Avro and 43 Metrovick aircraft for a total of 200. Initial deliveries to No 207 Sqn, RAF, November 1940 and first operation February 24/25, 1941.

Above: First Lancaster prototype (BT308) with Avro Manchester I-type tail unit and no dorsal turret. Below: The second prototype (DG585) showing definitive tail unit, no dorsal turret fairing, and retracted ventral turret.

Avro Manchester Mk IA: Later production aircraft were delivered with a tailplane of increased span (33 ft/10.1 m), taller fins and rudders and no central fin. These were designated Avro Manchester Mk IA and all Mk Is were eventually converted to this standard.

Gross weight (Mk I), 50,000 lb (22,700 kg), (Mk IA), 56,000 lb (25,424 kg).

AVRo 679 Manchester

Specification Avro Manchester Mk IA
Crew 7
Length 68 ft (20.99 m)
Wing span, m 90 ft 1 in (27.48 m)
Wing area 1,3370 sq ft (105.63 m²)
Empty 29,430 lb (13,350 kg)
Gross 56,000 lb (25,424 kg)
Engine Vulture IX
Power 2 x 1,760 (1,312 kW)
Max speed mph (km/h) 265 (426)
at altitude ft (m) 17,000 (5,180)
Cruising speed mph (km/h) 185 (298)
at altitude ft (m) 15,000 (4,570)
Ceiling 19,200 ft (5,856 m)
Range with 10,350 lb (4,699 kg) bomb-load 1,200 mi (1,930 km)
with 8,100 lb (3,677 kg) bomb-load 1,630 mi (2,188 km)
Photo Description
Drawing Manchester Mk IA

Drawing Manchester Mk IA

The first operation in which the Avro Manchester participated was the night raid of 24/25 February 1941, to bomb a Hipper class cruiser reported in Brest. Six aircraft of No 207 Squadron were involved, including L7284/EM:D with Fg Off P. R. Burton-Gyles and crew. One aircraft had undercarriage failure and crashed on landing back at Waddington. The Manchester had the highest combat loss-to-sorties ratio and the highest accident rate of all Bomber Command bomber types. This was due primarily to the persistent overheating and failure of the Vulture engines, troubles that were never satisfactorily overcome. With the loss of one engine the power from the other usually proved insufficient for flight to be maintained for long. With much-troubled engines, L7284 was removed from operational use in April 1941 and scrapped two years later. (IWM CHI7297)

Most air crews considered the interior of the Manchester's fuselage far better than that of the Halifax and Stirling. The Lancaster fuselage was basically the same as the Manchester's. This view of the cockpit of Manchester L7288/EM:H shows the dual controls and fold-down seat used by the flight engineer (an aircrew category introduced in March 1941) during take-off and landing. However, both Manchester and Lancaster found little favour with pilots in a bale-out emergency. Escape via the hatch in the cockpit 'roof carried a risk of being swept into the mid-upper turret or tailfins, while the small nose hatch was a long way forward. Despite being the thirteenth production Manchester, L7288 endured through operational service and training until scrapped in May 1943. (IWM CH3880)


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "British warplanes of World War II" /under cor. Daniel March/
  • "RAIDING THE REICH. The Allied Strategie Offensive in Europe" /Roger A. Freeman/