January 17, 2019

Victoria’s Lancaster Project Advancing


Victoria’s British Columbia Aviation Museum has placed the nose section of their recently-acquired Avro Lancaster on display in their Restoration Hangar, where visitors can monitor progress on the aircraft’s return to airworthiness, something the museum expects will take up to 15 years and $10 million.

“Huge challenge, absolutely, almost beyond the scope of imagination,” Mike Ingram told CTV News in an interview. Ingram, the owner of Victoria Air Maintenance, is overseeing the volunteers doing the restoration. “It is a big undertaking, but you know what? It’s not a complicated airplane, it’s just a big airplane.”

The Second World War-era strategic bomber is one of 430 built at the Canadian government-owned Victory Aircraft plant in Malton, Ontario during the war. The remainder of the 7,377 Lancasters were built in the U.K.

Only two Lancasters remain in flying condition, one based in the U.K. and the other in Mount Hope, Ont., at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. The B.C. museum’s Lancaster, FM104, was flown to Europe in 1945 and saw service as a reserve aircraft before the war ended, returning to Canada after a few months.

In service with the Canadian Government Trans-Atlantic Air Service (CGTAS), nine modified Lancasters (XPPs, for Lancaster Mk.X Passenger Planes) flew passengers and mail non-stop between Canada and Europe from 1943 to 1947, thus making CGTAS the first commercial trans-Atlantic air service. CGTAS was later absorbed into Trans-Canada Airlines, renamed Air Canada a few years later.

Lancaster 10MP, 405 Sqn RCAF at NAS Jacksonville in Feb 1953

Shortly after the war ended, 14 Lancasters were modified to perform aerial and photo-reconnaissance missions, including the mapping of northern Canada. Another 70 Lancasters were modified for maritime patrol or reconnaissance duties (designated Lancaster 10MR or 10MP as applicable), which were active throughout the 1950s before being replaced by the Lockheed Neptune and Canadair Argus.