Newsletter – 1987 Fall and Winter

We Need Your Support Too!

In the coming year we need your name on our membership list to convince the Alberta Department of tourism and other govt. depts., that this Society indeed has the support of many, in its efforts to preserve the Lancaster and for the building of an Air Museum.

The Anson Project (with its 8 or 9 carcasses), the large number of donated and “dug up” artifacts we have accumulated, all show the need for a museum is indeed real. Please renew/become a member. Just your $5 will help us send out newsletters as to our progress etc. Official tax receipts will be sent for donations of $20 (including $5 memberships) or more.

If You have renewed for 1987 please ignore this request.

We are also in need of more “bits and pieces” to do with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. If you know where any artifacts of this historic era might be, please contact Milt Magee, or any member of the Bomber Society.

1987 Summer Specials

by Dave Birrell

Our Society was pleased with the response to “Open Bomber” weekend held in May. We put considerable effort into cleaning the plane and installing (temporarily), the restored instrument panels and other instruments.

Approximately 700 people toured the Bomber. They entered through the nose escape hatch by way of a ladder, then travelled through the fuselage to exit via our new stairways at the rear door. Local members guided the visitors.

It was a satisfying experience to be able to meet many persons who had been intimately involved with Lancasters, as aircrew, in the manufacturing of the planes and also servicing and maintenance.
There were numerous visitors who had not been in a Lanc since World War II. Many brought their children and grandchildren to show them what it was like. we all heard lots of fascinating stories, some of which we hope capture on video tape, through our interview project.

For the Society, the event was a success financially as well. Some 200 memberships were sold and many donations received. Sales of merchandise, such as T shirts, caps, mugs, plates, and Lancaster prints, were very good. We hope to make tours of the Lancaster available again in 1988.

Editors Note

The Bomber was opened again for tours during the Alberta Summer Games which were held in Nanton in July and also again in August during Roundup Days. These tour days saw several hundred people “go through” the Bomber.

Your editor manned the mid-upper turret area, during one tour day, and witnessed the reunion of two former Lanc crew members. One of these, a wartime pilot, noted the other person’s name in the guest book, written while he had been in the plane. Back up the stairway he came, saying something to the effect that “there’s a guy in here I haven’t seen for 40 years!” They met in the mid-upper turret area. I’ll tell you, it was a thrill for them and for all those present.

Lancaster Highlights

by Milt Magee

Prior to open bomber weekend Fm 159 was cleaned inside and out with a power washer and a wet/dry vacuum. The mostly complete pilot’s instrument panel, navigators and flight engineers panels, control yoke and pilot’s seat were installed. Shortly after this, Tim Mols, a Lancaster A.M.E from Hamilton Ont., came out to inspect the Bomber.

He is currently the crew chief on Canadian Warplane Heritage’s FM 213 Lanc X restoration, to flyable status project. He has over 10,000 hours in on that job. He inspected FM 159 giving it a fairly good report card. Inspection was for corrosion and evaluation of systems. Missing parts were listed.

He said that restoration to taxable status is certainly possible as missing parts can yet be found. He even indicated it could eventually be restored to flyable status.

During the summer, engine openings were screened off to keep birds out. More parts were acquired from various sources. Our member Jon Spinks, a volunteer and parts restorer, travelled to the U.K. and shopped for Lanc items, returning with: a T-1a bombsight, driftmetre, several instruments, a crash axe, components for a bomb-aimers panel, a set of throttle levers, and many smaller items.

From C.F.B Greenwood, N.S., Lanc KB 839, now a gate guardian being stripped of useful parts, we have obtained a control yoke, complete blind flying panel, throttle quadrant, and elsan & sonobuoy seats. We are especially grateful for the throttle quadrant.

Earlier in the year, 408 Sqd. at C.F.B Edmonton traded us many interior parts & panels, a towing tractor (in pieces) and a rear turret gun mount. All this of war time vintage. We sent a propeller spinner to the R.A.F Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster PA 474, to help keep it airworthy. In return they have an air speed indicator for us, and one of their “friends” is giving us a T1154/R1155 (working) radio Numerous parts are yet to come from England.

Field trips yielded several (Lanc) engine mounts, flaps, and 5 sets of undercarriage. The parts list, obtained to date, goes on and on.

We are looking into re-inhibiting, FM 159’s Merlin 224 engines before winter sets in and are TRYING to LOCATE 100, 14mm sparkplugs.

If you are interested in assisting in our shop, with restoration projects this winter, please call Milt Magee. We can use your help. It should be interesting and rewarding.

The Last Of The Lancasters

This is the title of the recently prepared document which outlines our proposal to establish a Nanton Air Museum. We will use this when approaching the various government departments, for funding.

This document includes our objectives (historical and tourism), and background information on the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Lancaster photos & letters also indicate how vital it is that our aircraft be inside. Also included are drawings and engineering information related to the proposed building. Calgary member, Garth Hurl, a model maker, is rebuilding a model of this structure, for use with our presentations. This building is a unique and striking design by architect and former “Lanc” pilot, Joe English. It will house the bomber and 6 smaller planes, a display area, and restoration shops. We are confident that a Nanton Air Museum will prove to be a significant tourist attraction. In addition it will preserve and display a very special part of Canadian and British Commonwealth history.

New Development At Press Time

We recently have been awarded a $2000 grant from the Alberta Museum Assoc. to help restore the Midupper gun turret to a working display. An additional $1600 is still needed to complete the financing on this project, which includes the purchasing a new perspex “bubble” and two 50 cal. machine guns. Donations towards this project will be appreciated and tax deductible.

We have made plans to open the Bomber for tours next summer. We hope to have a summer supervisor to do this, along with students, hired under the S.T.E.P program.

A winter project of making up a “Display Anson” to give the kids (6-60) “hands on activity,” near the Bomber, is now being planned!

The First Anson Recovery Trip

by Fred Hollowell

We met at the “Bomber” Sunday morning, July 26, 1987. Greg Frank, Joe English, Steve Sears and Gordon Scott of the Nanton News and myself were first to arrive. As yet there was no sign of any vehicles capable of hauling an Anson from the Markle farm, near Pulteney to NAnton, a 20 mile trip one way.

Gordon had a frisbee that we threw around for a few minutes waiting for the heavy equipment to arrive. A few of us weren’t sure what an Anson was. We have since learned that an Avro Anson is a twin engine airplane which Britain used for bombing initially at the start of World War II. Later on as trainers they were painted bright yellow, the international color for trainers. This was to be a big help to us later in the day when we searched for Anson pieces on the Markle farm. John & Carol Dozeman, their 3 children, Lenard Hoffarth, Neil Wilson and George White soon arrived. At 9:30 a.m. our convoy of assorted trucks and the custom made trailer ( built by Neil Wilson) headed out south on #2 highway. Neil drove his welding truck with its “cherry picker”, Lenard had Magwood Motors wrecker truck.

The “Markle” Ansons had been sitting there for years, and looked the part too! The engines were gone and time and the weather had destroyed most of the external covering. However the one we were to haul had fairly good nose cone(made of wood). It is the only cone the Society has managed to find to date. We reinforced it so that it would survive the trip.

There seemed to be parts everywhere in the grass and weeds. The yellow paint was key to finding many of these. A top antenna on the Anson was first removed, then Neil used his ”cherry picker” to hoist the carcass from its resting place, onto the trailer. He then used his welder to make some adaptations to it and soon we were ready for the trip back. Lenard fixed up some portable CB radios, which hadn’t worked on the trip down, so that the pilot vehicles could be in contact with the main trailer unit. Thanking Mr. Markle, we headed out. Once on the highway we did hold up traffic until we came to passing lanes. Travelling at about 45mph we were soon at the Evans farm where this old Anson was to be stored. Unloading took a lot less time than to load. At 5:30 p.m. we took a few pictures and the job was done. The trip was a success; new friendships made; Anson rebuilding one step closer.