Corgi AA32618 RAF Avro Lancaster B Mk. I Heavy Bomber - LM220, 'Getting Younger Everyday', No. 9 Squadron, Operation Catechism, November 1944 (1:72 Scale)
- Prime Minister Winston Churchill's portrayal of the German battleship, Tirpitz
Entering service at the beginning of 1942, the Lancaster's design grew out of a failed predecessor, the Avro Manchester. While its' airframe offered a stable platform for heavy bombing assignments, the Manchester's twin engine design was inadequate to the task. By upgrading to four Merlins, the resulting aircraft met the nation's needs and 7,366 Avro Lancasters were built during the war, the most of any British bomber. Armament included eight to ten Browning machine guns for fighter defense (depending on model variant) mounted in the nose, upper dorsal turret and the tail. Experience with a variety of bomb loads eventually led to adoption of the 'Grand Slam' 22,000-pound bomb, the largest carried by any aircraft in the war.
The majority of Lancasters built during the war years were manufactured by Avro at their factory at Chadderton near Manchester and test flown from Woodford Aerodrome in Cheshire. Other Lancasters were built by Metropolitan-Vickers (1080, also tested at Woodford) and Armstrong Whitworth. The aircraft was also produced at the Austin Motor Company works in Longbridge, Birmingham later in the Second World War and postwar by Vickers-Armstrongs at Chester. Only 300 of the Lancaster B II fitted with Bristol Hercules engines were constructed; this was a stopgap modification caused by a shortage of Merlin engines as fighter production was of higher priority. Many BII's were lost after running out of fuel.
The Lancaster B III had Packard Merlin engines but was otherwise identical to contemporary B Is, with 3,030 B IIIs built, almost all at A.V. Roe's Newton Heath factory. The B I and B III were built concurrently, and minor modifications were made to both marks as new batches were ordered. Examples of these modifications were the relocation of the pitot head from the nose to the side of the cockpit, and the change from de Havilland "needle blade" propellers to Hamilton Standard or Nash Kelvinator made "paddle blade" propellers.
Of later variants, only the Canadian-built Lancaster B X, manufactured by Victory Aircraft in Malton, Ontario, was produced in significant numbers. A total of 430 of this type were built, earlier examples differing little from their British-built predecessors, except for using Packard-built Merlin engines and American-style instrumentation and electrics. Late-series models replaced the Frazer Nash mid-upper turret with a differently configured Martin turret, mounted slightly further forward for weight balance. A total of 7,377 Lancasters of all marks were built throughout the duration of the war, each at a 1943 cost of 45-50,000 (approximately equivalent to 1.3-1.5 million in 2005 currency).
For the dam-busting strike in May 1943, the Lancaster dropped British designer Barnes Wallis's 'bouncing bombs' which skipped on the surface before impact. Wartime Lancaster sorties totaled about 156,000 during which roughly 608,000 tons of ordnance were dropped on the enemy.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a RAF Avro Lancaster B Mk. I Heavy Bomber that was nicknamed 'Getting Younger Everyday', and attached to No. 9 Squadron then participating in Operation Catechism, the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz, during November 1944.
Note: Due to the immense size and weight of this item, it does not qualify for the ground shipping discount. Now in stock!
Release Date: October 2012
Historical Account: "We'll Meet Again in Valhalla" - Operation Catechism, the final British attack on the German battleship Tirpitz, took place on November 12th, 1944. The ship again used her 38 cm guns against the bombers, which approached the battleship at 09:35; Tirpitz's main guns forced the bombers to temporarily disperse, but could not break up the attack. A force of 32 Lancasters from Nos. 9 and 617 Squadrons dropped 29 Tallboys on the ship, with two direct hits and one near miss. Several other bombs landed within the anti-torpedo net barrier and caused significant cratering of the seabed; this removed much of the sandbank that had been constructed to prevent the ship from capsizing. One bomb penetrated the ship's deck between turrets Anton and Bruno but failed to explode. A second hit amidships between the aircraft catapult and the funnel and caused severe damage. A very large hole was blown into the ship's side and bottom; the entire section of belt armor abreast of the bomb hit was completely destroyed. A third bomb may have struck the ship on the port side of turret Caesar. The amidships hit caused significant flooding and quickly increased the port list to between 15 and 20 degrees. In ten minutes, the list increased to 30 to 40 degrees; the captain issued the order to abandon ship. Progressive flooding increased the list to 60 degrees by 09:50, though this appeared to stabilize temporarily. Eight minutes later, a large explosion rocked turret Caesar. The turret roof and part of the rotating structure were thrown 25 m (82 ft) into the air and over into a group of men swimming to shore. Tirpitz then rapidly rolled over and buried her superstructure in the sea floor.
In the aftermath of the attack, rescue operations attempted to reach men trapped in the hull. Workers managed to rescue 82 men by cutting through the bottom hull plates. Figures for the death toll vary from approximately 950 to 1,204. Approximately 200 survivors of the sinking were transferred to the heavy cruiser Ltzow in January 1945. The wreck remained in place until after the war, when a joint German-Norwegian company began salvage operations. Work lasted from 1948 until 1957; fragments of the ship are still sold by a Norwegian company. Ludovic Kennedy wrote in his history of the vessel that she "lived an invalid's life and died a cripple's death".
The performance of the Luftwaffe in the defense of Tirpitz was highly criticized after her loss. Major Heinrich Ehrler, the commander of III./Jagdgeschwader 5 (3rd Group of the 5th Fighter Wing), was blamed for the Luftwaffe's failure to intercept the British bombers. He was subsequently court-martialed in Oslo and threatened with the death penalty. Evidence was shown that his unit had failed to help the Kriegsmarine when requested. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but he was released after a month, demoted, and reassigned to an Me 262 fighter squadron in Germany. On April 4th, 1945, he was shot down over Berlin; he had told a comrade that he intended to ram a bomber after running out of ammunition, stating "We'll meet again in Valhalla."