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Thread: Brand-new Lancaster for HCU training?

  1. #1
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    Default Brand-new Lancaster for HCU training?

    I've been doing further research into the Lancaster that crashed in our village, Halam, killing all seven crew members 69 years ago to the day. The aircraft was from HCU1661 from nearby RAF Winthorpe.

    The accident card and the accident report in the records of the pilot Len Lean (RAAF) both state that it was a Lancaster Mk.III ED823 that crashed. It had only 12 hours flight time on the airframe and the Merline XXVIII engines had between 12 and 22.25 hours running time only. All four engines had been installed on the aircraft on 26-03-1943. The crash occured on 10-04-1943, just two weeks later. Apparently the crew were on their last (night) training flight before going operational...

    I was always under the impression that HCUs' training aircraft were "tired old hacks" generally retired from operational squadrons, I certainly didn't think that training units were given brand-new planes to fly.

    Am I misunderstanding something, or has anyone else come across new planes being used for training? Any explanations or suggestions gratefully received!

    Many thanks!

    Andrew

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    Hi Andrew,

    From the introduction of Bomber Command Losses, Volume 8 Heavy Conversion Units and Miscellaneous Units, 1939-1947 by Bill Chorley

    "A second observation, too, is worth noting (particularly in respect of the conversion flights and heavy conversion units) and this is to refute the misconceptions oft reported over the years that aircraft assigned to the training units were "clapped out", and, thus, were no longer fit for squadron use. Such allegations are very far from the truth for although aircraft were released into the training loop, the hours recorded on their airframes were, in many cases, surprisingly low. Furthermore, the number of operational sorties flown by the initial issues of the four-engined types, prior to their being absorbed in the burgeoning conversion units, can often be measured in single figures and, certainly, nowhere near the number of operational flights implied in some reports."

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Many conversion unit aircraft may have been old and tired but new aircraft were also found there. The example you mention came from a batch of 138 aircraft of which 23 were delivered new to conversion units.
    New aircraft were, I suppose, delivered to whichever unit was deemed to be the most in need at the time and that included conversion units.
    And remember, they didn't just spend time flogging around the circuit but were also used on op's.
    Ian Macdonald

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    Many thanks for that!

    Really helps to put together a picture of what happened to ED823 when it crashed in our village, Halam on 10th April 1943

    We are saying special prayers tomorrow for the seven airmen who died in the crash

    Andrew

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