Lancs and Jugs
It’s easy to view the Avro Lancaster, which turns 80 this year, as just another large, mechanized, and cumbersome war machine that successfully contributed to the Allied bombing campaign between 1941-45. But if you look at each plane individually, there is so much more when you consider the pilots, air and ground crews, and missions.
The driving force was the human element—not just the weapons, rivets, and sheet metal. It would start on takeoff when the pilot heaved his plane off the runway and into the air. In our feature story “Legendary Heavy Hitter,” Squadron Leader Clive Rowley MBE RAF (Ret.), a former pilot and officer commanding the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, tells the story behind the latest markings for the Flight’s Lancaster Bomber. Its unique nose art brings to life the men from 460 Squadron who had hoped, but could never be sure, that the next mission would not be their last.
And in “Remembering the Bomber Boys,” you can read about the making of the feature documentary “Lancaster” to be released on Netflix at the end of this year. The film features moving stories from some of the surviving veterans. Handling the incredible air-to-air cinematography was none other than John Dibbs and a super-talented aerial team that has other films like “Dunkirk” on their list of credits.
As with the Lanc, the Jug was viewed as quite ponderous, but it was much more nimble and lethal than it appeared. A couple of 3-second bursts from its eight Brownings could place more than 50 pounds of steel in an enemy aircraft, causing total destruction. It was built to take a beating and brought many a pilot home, even with significant airframe damage. Col. Hubert Zemke, CO of the 56th Fighter Group, and his P-47 pilots racked up record kills with this mount. They scored over 500 kills in the ETO! Zemke was also a brilliant tactician and developed a solution that would cleverly draw the enemy in to his waiting Wolfpack. It did not end well for the vaunted Luftwaffe. Read all about this ace in our story, “Zemke’s Wolfpack.”
We have plenty more this issue that puts you in the cockpit with the pilots that were there, in combat. We know you will enjoy.