Lancasters After The War

Lancasters continued to serve with Britain’s Royal Air Force after the war, primarily as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft for Coastal Command. Bomber Command squadrons continued to use the Lancasters until 1953 and other RAF Lancs continued to serve until 1964 undertaking a variety of non-combat roles such as photographic reconnaissance duties in Africa.

Canadian Lancasters served with the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1964 and in the South Pacific, Lancasters were active with the French Air Force until the mid 1960’s.

It is no surprise that an aircraft as successful as the Lancaster should have generated a number of later aircraft based on the initial success.

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One of the earliest was operated by the Canadian Government’s trans-Atlantic air service” from 1943 until 1947. Operating nine especially modified, Canadian-built Lancaster XPP’s, the fledgling Trans-Canada Airlines helped to usher in the era of mass travel over the North Atlantic. Initially the priority was providing regular mail service to Canadian forces overseas and to transport key personnel on wartime asssignments.

The Avro Lincoln was designed as the successor to the Lancaster. Featuring an increased wingspan, a longer fuselage, and heavier armament, it first flew in June of 1944. Too late to see service during the war, the Lincoln served with the RAF in Malaya and Africa and flew operationally until the mid-fifties when it was replaced by the Canberra jet bombers.

The Avro York was designed as a long-range transport aircraft and employed the same wings, undercarriage, and engines as the Lancaster. However, it had a completely different fuselage with twice the capacity for freight. It first flew in 1942 but very few were built during the war. One aircraft was specially modified and served as a flying conference room , principally for the use of Winston Churchill and King George VI. The York played a major role in the “Berlin Air Lift” of 1948 when the Soviet Union cut off land access to what was then the former German capital and the Allies flew in some 2,500,000 tons of supplies.

The Avro Lancastrian was a long range passenger aircraft which was developed by modifying regular production British Lancasters in 1944. By May, 1945 the Lancastrian was flying a regular London to Australia route with BOAC.

The last of the Lancaster derivatives to enter service was the Avro Shackleton which flew as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft with the Royal Air Force.

So the Avro Lancaster, which played such a pivotal role during World War II, was part of a long lineage spanning some six decades which began with the Manchester design of 1936 and continued until the last flight of the Shackleton in the late 1980’s.