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Thread: Lancaster 111. How to identify?

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    Default Lancaster 111. How to identify?

    Hi

    Supposing I have discovered wreckage from a crashed Lancaster 111 (which I haven't) Supposing the aircraft came down with such force that it penetrated the soft ground and the bulk of it is some feet under. My question is, what would I have to find to make a positive identification which could be nearer the surface. Supposing I have found some small engine bits that identify the a/c as a Lancaster 111 and a tag from Rolls Royce. Is it possible to identify the a/c from discovering the main engine or a bolt on piece such as a pump or such like or would I need to find the tail wheel or rear gun turret bits or any piece with an id number stamped on it. This may or may not be hypothetical! I look forward to your responses. Tony

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    Hi Tony, I'm guessing you already know the only difference between Mk I and Mk III is the type of Merlin (Merlin XX in Mk I and Merlin 28 and 38 in Mk III)? I'm pretty sure the only part of the engine that would give you a definitive ID of the engine type (especially after 70 years in the ground) would be the manufacturer's plate and/or serial number. There are other items that might identify the aircraft but only if you have access to squadron-level or manufacturer's records that show what kit (by serial number) was in which aircraft. The services would run differently from the engines between the two marks, but you'd be going some to spot the 'layout' in a wreck!

    Cheers,

    Richard

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    Default Lanc identity

    Hi Richard. Thank you for your reply. Yes I know about what you are saying. Assuming I don't have the complete engine or the manufacturers plate but assuming I have some small parts that may be stamped with ref numbers or AID ref numbers, do I have any hope? Also, is there any organisation that might be interested in digging up some wreckage bearing in mind that it might still contain the crew and also that it is not in this country. I guess permissions would need to be sort and also access rights gained if indeed it was possible. The main aim though is to identify the particular aircraft. I know it might be a Lanc 111 from 1943 and it would be some feet underground

    regards
    Tony

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Hi Tony, I'm guessing you already know the only difference between Mk I and Mk III is the type of Merlin (Merlin XX in Mk I and Merlin 28 and 38 in Mk III)? I'm pretty sure the only part of the engine that would give you a definitive ID of the engine type (especially after 70 years in the ground) would be the manufacturer's plate and/or serial number. There are other items that might identify the aircraft but only if you have access to squadron-level or manufacturer's records that show what kit (by serial number) was in which aircraft. The services would run differently from the engines between the two marks, but you'd be going some to spot the 'layout' in a wreck!

    Cheers,

    Richard

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    Tony,
    the first step in identifying any crash site is normally archival.
    Given the country and nearest town or village, it is possible to produce a short list of candidates. Many members of these forums have a wealth of information to provide this.
    The next step is to ascertain which air-force operated the aircraft, the tell tale being the ammunition, which was carried in quantity by operational aircraft. Cartridge cases are normally one of the first finds on the surface and as well as giving a hint as to the operator can also help date the incident to a year from the head-stamps.
    Next is the confirmation of type, all Lancaster marks had part numbers commencing 683, so no way of differentiating between marks, but it will confirm type.
    Working back from your scenario with small engine parts and a Rolls Royce tag, all that this tells you is that it was an aircraft fitted with Rolls Royce engine(s).
    You also mention a bolt from a pump, as these were normally bought in components and used generally by all manufacturers, this tells little except if marked AGS it was British.
    Rarely is direct evidence of the serial found in remains and even when a serial is found this has to be matched back to records due to re-use of components.
    Perhaps a hypothetical village would start the candidate list?

    Sean.

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    I have no actual experience of idenifying RR versus Packard-built Merlins, but there would be very many ways to differentiate the two. For instance I am fairly certain that the Packard engines would have a fine maker's plate giving the manufacturer's name and model description, serial number, firing order, specification, etc, in no uncertain terms. The British tended to tone their maker's plates down somewhat during the war period, even on accessories, to exclude all data on location of factories producing that component, for instance, whereas the Americans never felt in that vulnerable circumstance. American-built engines and accessorires would be held together with SAE threads (UNF, UNC), etc, whereas British would use BSW, BSF, etc. And the splines on all shaft connections would be SAE on American engines, but these joints might take some separating "in the field" so that might not be an easy option - nuts and bolts would be far simpler! And the accessories on American engines would be quite different to British, as in carburtttors, magnetos, pumps, starter motors and generators. It should be a simple matter to get very good descriptions of these accessories before you even start digging, and identification should then be very easy. However I cannot stress enough that you should have at least one person familiar with WW2 aero engines and accessories for this work. My experience has been that even if only shattered, corroded fragments remain, these can still be identified if there is enough of the distinctive castings, bearings, and arrangements of the originals. If you have such engineering expert aboard they should be able to quickly come up with a definite conclusion. Incidentally the mark number of the Lancaster you are grasping for is Mk. III (the Roman 3), and NOT 111 (one hundred and eleven).
    David D

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    Default Lancaster III How to identify

    Hi

    Thank you David and Sean for your responses. Here is the situation and it concerns Lancaster W5000 QR-B. Many of you will no doubt know that there has been much surmising on the fate of this aircraft. Raid on Hamburg 2/3 Aug 1943. Some have suggested that it was shot down over the NS by Ltn Hermann Leube who had reported it as a Stirling. Maybe this is what happened. Maybe we shall never know. Here is a different scenario. The a/c crashed approx 12 miles sw of Hamburg at Buxenhude and landed in marshy land. I am in contact with a German gentleman, Dieter, who has shown me photographs of the impact zone and also photographs of various small parts of wreckage. It is possible to say that they are from a Lancaster III. Some of the parts have other identification such as AID ref numbers and maybe part numbers. Dieter is convinced that the parts are from W5000. There are two of us and possibly three that are desparate to know. My uncle was the rear / tail gunner. I am in touch with the nephew of the pilot R Lyon and also potentially involved is the nephew of the FE. I would like to post the photo of the parts for all you good people to help with identity but am not sure if this is possible on the forum. If it is perhaps someone would explain to me how to do that. This August it is 70 years and although I don't expect anything to happen it would be nice for us relatives to have some idea of where the wreck lies. I am quite inspired by Dieters claims and he has researched this in depth to be sure that he is right with his ID of the wreck. I look forward to your responses.
    Regards
    Tony

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    Tony, From the references I have to hand W5000 was one of 30 aircraft built as Mk III's by Metropolitan Vickers at their Moseley Road Works under contract number B69275/40. This order was completed MK I's and Mk III's in May 1943.
    Bill.

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