Posted: Sun 31st May 2015

Broughton made Lancaster – One of only two still flying – is 70 years old today.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, May 31st, 2015

PA474 rolled off the production line at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory at Hawarden Airfield on 31 May 1945. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

She is one of only two Lancaster aircraft remaining in airworthy condition out of the 7,377 that were built. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Built just after the war in Europe had come to an end she was prepared for use against the Japanese as part of the ‘Tiger Force’. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The war in the Far East ended before she was deployed and she did not take part in any hostilities. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

After coming out of storage PA474 was converted for photo reconnaissance work; modifications for these duties included being stripped back to a bare metal silver finish and the all gun turrets were removed, she was then assigned to aerial survey duties with No 82 Squadron in East and South Africa from September 1948 until February 1952. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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On return to the United Kingdom, PA474 was going to be used as a pilotless drone by Flight Refuelling Ltd which would likely have led to her loss. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Fortunately, before the conversion started the Air Ministry decided to use a different type of aircraft for the drone programme. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

She was then transferred to the Royal College of Aeronautics at Cranfield where she was used as a trial platform for the testing of various experimental aerofoil sections between 1954 and 1964. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In 1964 PA474 was adopted by the Air Historical Branch with a view to putting the aircraft on display as a static exhibit in the proposed RAF Museum at Hendon. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

She was flown to Wroughton where she was painted in a camouflage paint scheme, though without squadron markings, and it was during this period that the aircraft took part in two films, ‘Operation Crossbow’ and ‘The Guns of Navarone’. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Later in 1964, she was moved to RAF Henlow and grounded in preparation for display at the RAF Museum. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Ian Savage

PA474 is currently painted to represent Lancaster DV385, “Thumper Mk III” of 617 (‘Dambuster’) Squadron, with the code letters ‘KC-A’ [Picture by Ian Savage]

In 1965, Wing Commader D’Arcy, the Commanding Officer of 44 Squadron (then flying Vulcans at RAF Waddington) asked permission for PA474 to be transferred into the care of the Squadron. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A restoration programme began on the Lancaster and by 1966 work was progressing well, permission to fly PA474 regularly was granted in 1967, whilst restoration continued. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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Feature Image: BBMF/Facebook ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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