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Thread: Lancaster Special

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    Default Lancaster Special

    Hello. At the end of May 1944, 405 squadron had 3 Lancaster III Special. Would this be a Lancaster that had an 8th crew member that was a set operator, as some flights carried 2 bomb aimers. A Set operator and Visual Bomb aimer.
    Thanks Richard

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    The only reference I can find to MK III "Specials" suggests that these were the aircraft adapted to take the Upkeep Bomb .... but I can only find that in one reference book ... no others show any details regarding "Specials" .... do you have the serial numbers?

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Hi Pete. Thanks for responding. I am pretty sure its going to have something to do with navigation or bomb aiming as this was a pathfinder Squadron. Many of the crews from July onward carried a 8th crew member. One a set operator and a visual bomb aimer. The set operator was usually a bomb aimer and occasionally a navigator. From July on wards most aircraft were in the PA or PB range of serial numbers.
    Richard

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    Richard

    As you say, many Pathfinder crews carried a Set Operator (Nav Radar) to monitor the H2S, but this equipment was fitted to most of their aircraft (including the Halifax and Lancaster BI, as well as BIII) and I have never seen these aircraft referred to as "Specials" .... so a bit of a conundrum
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    As PeteT posted the Lancaster BIII (special) was the later official designation for the 'Dambuster' Upkeep aircraft (original designation was 'Lancaster Type 464 Provisioning').

    A quote from Key Aero
    Posted originally with a link to the Lancaster-Archive,however with the new 'improved' key Aero forum the embedded links do not appear to work (rolleyes)

    - Dr John Smith 2013
    In summation: ED817, ED912, ED915, ED921ł ED924, ED929, ED933 all appear to have survived in storage in a Damís configuration or something close to it. All were scrapped at No. 46 Maintenance Unit (MU). ED906, ED909, ED933 appear to have been reconfigured and used in some role after the Damís Raid. They were returned to Damís configuration after the war and used to dispose of the remaining ďUpkeepísĒ. After completing this task the aircraft were scrapped by what appears to have been a special AVRO contract team specifically tasked to do this. ED918, was reconfigured back Mk.III Standard, apparently minus its bomb doors, and crashed in a training flight. ED933 appears to have been reconfigured back Mk.III Standard, apparently minus its bomb doors, and by all accounts did not see further operational duties and served as a trials aircraft. By the numbers: Aircraft Lost On Damís Raid - 8 Aircraft Lost On Operations (post Damís Raid) - 2 Crashed on Training Flight - 1 Scrapped (post war) - 11 Total 22 "
    So I doubt a Lancaster BIII (special) would have been much use to a Pathfinder Sqn.
    However I wonder if it was an unofficial Local (Sqn) reference to 3 a/c with a non standard fit of some kind,as PeteT has also posted - a Lancaster did not need any special fit to carry an extra crew member.

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    Thanks to all. I am sure it has something to do with upgraded bomb aiming gear or navigation/radar, which would not be a change to the airframe.
    Richard.

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    The “Special” designation was not specific to Mk IIIs, i.e. not all “Specials” were Mk III. From the Lancaster archive, The Mk VI: “Modified Lancaster Mk. III fitted with Rolls-Royce Merlin 85 or 87 engines. Ten existing Lancaster's converted from various Marks.”

    http://www.lancaster-archive.com/lanc_variants.htm

    I will search through Mason and my other volumes. I’m sorry, but I’m not altogether trusting of Larry Wright’s work on this.

    Evidently 405 Squadron had 2 Mk VI “Specials” , May, 31, 1944.

    http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oo...70/141?r=0&s=3

    2 were still there in June but are not identified on strength the end of July, although there were 17 Lancaster III specials.

    http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oo...70/256?r=0&s=3

    I had heard the Mk VI was much faster than the Mk III and had a higher operational ceiling. I had heard (Richard, I thought it was from you) that the VI was “some kind of wonderful a/c”! and was used operationally by 405.

    I guess in conclusion, I suspect the “special” designation had nothing at all to do with the Upkeep capability, but may have been simply due to the special navigational or bomb aiming equipment that may have been installed.

    Jim

    Edit: Francis Mason’s book, pages 167-168, confirms the Merlin 85/87 series engines with 4 blade props, on the Mk VI, with 25% greater power. Photos on page 168. JB 675 spent time with 7, 405 and 635 Squadrons.
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 8th November 2019 at 06:44. Reason: New information

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    Hi

    I have also seen the Lancasters modified to carry 'Grand Slam' bombs designated as 'Special', I think it was possibly used whenever an aircraft was modified from standard but not specific to a particular modification.

    Malcolm

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    As I posted above though JD - the 405 (special) must be a local/sqn designation for specific A/C and nothing to do with the official designation of Lancaster BIII (special).

    rgds baz

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    Quote Originally Posted by malcolm_raf View Post
    Hi

    I have also seen the Lancasters modified to carry 'Grand Slam' bombs designated as 'Special', I think it was possibly used whenever an aircraft was modified from standard but not specific to a particular modification.

    Malcolm
    They were the Lancaster BI (special) - so once again an official designation Malcolm.

    rgds baz

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