Lancaster bomber holds a special place of affection mingled with a
great deal of pride in the hearts of British and Commonwealth
citizens--feelings which perhaps find their parallel in the hearts
of Americans toward the B-17 Flying Fortress. Just as the Spitfire
epitomized the Commonwealth's supreme spirit of defiance in the
face of seemingly irresistible defeat, so the evening sight and
sound of streams of Lancasters "heading out" toward the
heartland of the German Reich was the ultimate translation of a
war weary people's will to see the Nazi military and industrial
machine--the source of colossal suffering for so much of the
world--battered into oblivion. Lancasters destroyed the
Moehne, Eder and Sorpe dams in northwest Germany causing major
flooding of the vital Ruhr Valley industrial area. This
spectacular venture, and the sinking of the German battleship
Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord in 1944, are the best known of all
the exploits of the Lancaster, yet it was their ceaseless
nighttime bombing of German industrial centers and cities that did
most to end the war.
The first Lancaster flew in October,
1941. A total of 7,366 were built. Some were still
flying with the RAF in the early 1950s as maritime-reconnaissance,
photo-reconnaissance and rescue aircraft.
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