WWII: Could you be part of a Lancaster Bomber crew?
The Lancaster Bomber carried out daring missions, including the audacious Dambusters raids, on Germany during World War Two. It had a crew of seven from the pilot to the gunners. Everyone had to play their part to stay alive.
The Lancaster was one of the most dangerous places to be in the entire war – the life expectancy of a new recruit was just two weeks. Find out if you have what it took to be part of the crew.
Which role suits you best?
A Lancaster Bomber had a crew of seven: pilot, navigator, bomb aimer, flight engineer, wireless operator, mid gunner and rear gunner. Each role needed a very particular set of skills.
The Lancaster was the work-horse of RAF Bomber Command and the most successful bomber of World War Two. Lancaster crews took part in 156,000 missions and dropped 618,378 tons of bombs on targets in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. Here are some of the operations you could have faced…
On 16 and 17 May 1943, a squadron, No. 617, of 19 modified Lancasters attacked dams across Germany to disrupt industrial production.
In a series of moonlit raids the Lancasters flew very low and dropped ‘bouncing bombs’. The missiles were designed to skim across the water, hit the dam and sink to the bottom unleashing enough explosive power to breach the structure.
Two of the four dams targeted were destroyed and the raids flooded mines, factories and houses for 50 miles. Eight of the 19 Lancasters that took part were lost with the loss of 56 men: 53 died and 3 were captured. However the mission became legendary and was a great boost to British morale.
On 17 and 18 August 1943, they took part in ‘Operation Hydra’ bombing the military test site at Peenemunde in Northern Germany. This was the home of the Nazis’ secret missile program, which was developing deadly V1 and V2 rockets.
596 planes, including 324 Lancasters dropped 1,800 tons of bombs on Peenemunde, destroying the factories and research facilities and setting back the missile program by between three and six months.
Attacking German cities
In 1942 in an attempt to break German morale the RAF began attacking German towns and cities in earnest.
On the night of 13/14 February 1945, 796 Lancasters took part in a joint British and American mission to bomb the eastern German city of Dresden. The bombers faced little resistance and around 20,000 civilians were killed. Six Lancasters were destroyed.