PA474 - Avro Lancaster, RIAT 2007 ©Nigel Key
There are currently only two airworthy Avro Lancasters worldwide one of them being 'PA474' which is a member of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, and the other is based in the 'Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Canada.
Avro Lancaster BI PA474 was built in Chester during the mid-part of 1945 with the intention to send it to the Far East as part of the 'Tiger Force'. Due to the conclusion of the War with Japan, she was not needed in the Far East and was instead sent to 82 squadron for Photo Reconnaissance in East and South Africa carrying the identification 'M'.
'PA474' was returned to the United Kingdom to be converted to a pilotless drone aircraft by 'Flight Refuelling Limited', however, it was decided to use a Lincoln aircraft instead so 'PA474' was sent to the 'Royal College of Aeronautics' for "Handle Page" Laminar Flow Wing trials.
The Air Historical Branch acquired 'PA474' in 1964 to be displayed in the proposed RAF museum at Hendon, in anticipation of this 'PA474' was repainted in a camouflage paint scheme. In her new livery, 'PA474' appeared in two films namely 'Operation Crossbow' and 'The Guns of Navarone'.
In late 1964 'PA474' was sent to Henlow to be prepared for the RAF Museum display. 'PA474' was then transferred to No. 44 Squadron (the first squadron to be equipped with Lancasters) in 1965 and after an inspection was deemed sufficiently airworthy to be flown to Waddington for restoration. During her duties as a photographic reconnaissance aircraft, 'PA474' had had her turrets removed and these were replaced by 1966. Although her restoration was still ongoing she was in an airworthy condition and allowed to fly in 1967.
'Mickey the Moocher' - Port side nose graphic
The restoration of Avro Lancaster 'PA474' has been ongoing and will continue to ensure that this historic aircraft stays in the skies. Over the years various components have been discovered and utilised such as a mid-upper turret discovered in Argentina fitted in 1975, a brand new main spar was fitted early in 1976 and in 2000 she was painted in the colour scheme of Lancaster III 'EE176' 'QR-M', known as "Mickey the Moocher", from No 61 Squadron which was based in Skellingthorpe.
'Phantom of the Rhur' - Port side nose graphic
In 2007, 'PA474' was repainted with the colour scheme of the 'Phantom of the Rhur' with markings 'EE139' to commemorate the crews of two squadrons, her Port side bears the identification letters 'HW-R' which flew 30 ops for No 100 Squadron and her Starboard side bears 'BQ-B' which flew 91 ops for No 550 Squadron.
'HW-R' Port side lettering
'BQ-B' Starboard side lettering
On 7 May 2015, the aircraft suffered a fire in its starboard outer engine, though fortunately it made a safe landing at RAF Coningsby. It flew again on 12 October 2015 after extensive work to fix the damage caused by the fire to number four engine.
'Leader' - Port side nose graphic
PA474 went in for major servicing at Duxford during 2016/17 and was painted in a new livery. The port side represents Lancaster BIII W5005 'AR-L' "Leader" of 460 (Royal Australian Air Force) Squadron, with its nose art of a kangaroo in wellington boots playing bagpipes reflecting the mixed nationalities of the crew.
'AR-L' Port side lettering
'VN-T' Starboard side lettering
The starboard side of PA474 wears the No 50 Squadron code letters 'VN-T' representing Lancaster LL922 in which Flying Officer 'Dougy' Millikin (grandfather of the current OC BBMF, Andy 'Milli' Millikin) and his wireless operator John Tait flew 33 operations together.
The starboard side of the Lancaster's nose will retain the coat of arms and name of The City of Lincoln.
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