Ever since I was a young lad, I’ve dreamt about being in a WW2 aircraft. As time has passed, I have obviously learnt that being in one during WW2 was incredibly dangerous, and not at all as ‘exciting’ as I, with the foolishness of youth, thought it would be. The majority of aircrew were gripped with fear for each and every mission, praying for a safe return. More than 55,000 aircrew didn’t return. For instance, if the crew of a Lancaster were forced to bail out, only 15% of the rear gunners survived. To get out of the rear turret was a complicated and lengthy business, and not one suited to an emergency evacuation of the aircraft.
55,573 RAF bomber command personnel were killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4 percent death rate), with a further 8,403 wounded in action and 9,838 becoming prisoners of war.
If you break it down, that means that for every 100 bomber command airmen:
- 55 killed on operations or died as result of wounds
- 3 injured (in varying levels of severity) on operations or active service
- 12 taken prisoner of war (some wounded)
- 2 shot down and evaded capture
- 27 survived a tour of operations
In total 364,514 bomber command operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft lost in action.
Saying all this, I had the honour and privilege of being allowed close up and personal with a Lancaster today, as well as being allowed inside that very same aircraft.
I have spent many hours trying to ID relics recovered from RAF dump sites, so any opportunity to take comprehensive pictures of the inside of an RAF aircraft has to be taken! As was the case with this visit. Hopefully this will aid people in the identification of Lancaster parts, recovered from either RAF dump sites, or from Lancaster crash sites.
I make no apologies for the volume of pictures. There are a lot, but she is a big old girl and I tried to cover every inch!
Of course, there is no way on this earth I could be allowed inside this magnificent aircraft, without taking up position in the rear gun turret……