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"Superb Lancaster Reenactment Photos" Topic

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Jemima Fawr Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 5:40 a.m. PST

Believe it or not, a ten year-old lad took these superb photos of reenactors with the Lancaster 'Just Jane' (a ground-running, but non-flying aircraft) at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby:



Onomarchos Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2012 5:56 a.m. PST

Wow … these are great shots. Beautiful airplane.

plutarch 6406 Nov 2012 6:38 a.m. PST

Lovely shots, and I still have a great memory of one flying over the top of a forest we were riding through in Bucks, escorted by a Spitfire and a Hurricane if I recall correctly (the Lancaster obviously – not us).

I think they were probably practising for the Queen Mother's 100th, but I will never forget the sound of a four-engined bomber and wonder what a hundred of them must have sounded like.

Volleyfire06 Nov 2012 6:45 a.m. PST

Well I only live a mile away and on Saturday night prior to the fireworks display you could plainly hear the Lanc running her engines up and taxiing from where I live, so it must have been something to hear 2 squadrons all doing the same. Several planes blew up on the base one day during the war after someone dropped a bomb whilst bombing up and the blast brought down my grandmother's dining room ceiling, and blew two airmen who she was talking to at the front door off their feet into the rose bushes! And that was at a mile distance.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 7:05 a.m. PST

I was lucky enough to have a taxi-run with my cadets in Just Jane a few years back. At the time, one of the co-owners told me that they had no plans every to get her airworthy. However, the success of the Vulcan to the Sky campaign has changed all that and now they're looking to raise funds to get her flying again – no doubt with an eye on the fact that the BBMF's Lanc won't last forever. Sadly, the tax-run that we got for free a few years back now costs £200.00 GBP per head!

Some Chicken Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 7:29 a.m. PST

£200.00 GBP a head? Ouch! Clearly I will never realise my ambition of marking a future 'significant' birthday with a short flight in BBMF's City of Lincoln.

However, I have been fortunate enough to see it circle fairly low overhead a couple of times in the last few years while scoring for my local cricket team, St Ives in Cambridgeshire. It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and keeping track of what was going on in the field doubly difficult.

Some Chicken Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 7:30 a.m. PST

RMD – any idea what would be carried in the green canvas bag?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 7:35 a.m. PST


The BBMF generally don't let ANYONE in their Lanc these days. They used to give jollies to various members and friends of the RAF, but that's very, very rare now.

The taxi-run I mentioned was in 'Just Jane', which is the one pictured and is privately owned.

I did however, once have a flight in a Shackleton (a mate flew them with 8 Sqn), which definitely provided me with the 'Lancaster Experience' (cold, noisy and nauseating)!

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 7:37 a.m. PST

The green canvas bag is a nav-bag for the navigator to keep all his charts, almanacs, met briefing sheets, dividers, rulers, Dalton Computer, pencils, etc, tidy. Normally leather, but leather was a valuable war commodity, so they made them instead out of cheap canvas.

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 7:47 a.m. PST

Beautiful aircraft.

Some Chicken Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 9:58 a.m. PST

RMD – I thought he must be the navigator as I couldn't imagine who else would carry all that clobber. Thanks for the detailed info and for letting me down gently over my (clearly never to be fulfilled) ambition of a flight in a Lanc! Sigh.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 10:08 a.m. PST

Yeah, I'm guessing that's also a theodolite case slung over his shoulder. Whoever kitted these guys out has certainly done their research!

Don't despair! When they finally get Just Jane flying, I imagine that they will give stacks of flights to paying passengers, as a way of keeping her in the air (unless the RAF buys her outright). However, I can see such flights costing megabucks… :o(

I'd love to have a trip, but I've had my fair share of flights in WW2 birds – Harvard, Dakota, Mustang, Tiger Moth and Avenger.

Some Chicken Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 10:14 a.m. PST

So can I! If there was one aircraft of all those that fought in WW2 that I could choose to fly in, it would have to be the Lancaster. For now I will have to do with occasionally standing really close to the static display example at IWM Duxford!

de Maistre06 Nov 2012 1:13 p.m. PST

Very neat,thanks for sharing ;o)

BattlerBritain06 Nov 2012 1:13 p.m. PST

I saw the BBMF Lanc on the ground at Kemble last year with all 4 engines running when it landed after a display. What a beauty. I love the sound of Merlins.

Cheers RMD :)

Volleyfire06 Nov 2012 1:42 p.m. PST

Went to the display where they got her tail wheel up off the ground for the first time, and was told by a connection of the pilot that Panton's thought she was too precious to fly, in case she crashed, and they'd rather keep her as is. Apart from that the figure of £1.00 GBP million keeps being bandied about as the cost of getting the main spar inspected and passed as airworthy. Apparently it means a trip to Blackpool and a lot of work, and that means the main moneyspinning attraction gone from the museum. If it was an over Winter job it might be feasible but I would have thought the cost and possible time factor also could put Pantons off. It did actually fly breifly when they were filming it for Peter Jackson's Dambusters film. He wanted film for the CGI crew to use and it was taxied over to the only main runway left,not the main one the RAF used but the one the Americans widened and lengthened in case of trouble with Russia allegedly, and during tail up filming it 'accidently' came unstuck for a few seconds and flew again!

Lion in the Stars06 Nov 2012 6:32 p.m. PST

However, I can see such flights costing megabucks…
Start saving now!

Should I somehow actually hit the lottery, I would throw a large chunk of change at them to start the restoration process, but only if it got me a check-ride when they were done!

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2012 8:58 p.m. PST

Nicely done.

number4 Inactive Member20 Nov 2012 11:10 a.m. PST

Thanks for sharing this, very atmospheric photos.

While a flight in a Lancaster is not possible right now, if you want to visit the US next year, a check ride in a B.17 can be had for around $400 USD

Volleyfire07 Jan 2013 2:51 a.m. PST

Article in yesterdays Sunday Telegraph about the Museum and how the brothers hope to have the Lanc airborne in the next 12 months.

The night he was told that his brother had been shot down, Fred Panton ran off into a barn and hid. "I daredn't go back in the house," says Fred, who was 13 at the time. "I was sure it would hit my mother hard."
His big brother, Christopher, was only 19, but had already been on dozens of raids over Germany when his bomber was attacked by night fighters and exploded in the sky near Nuremberg in March1944.
Chris Panton standing a the rear turret of his Halifax HX272-N (Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph)
That was nearly 70 years ago. Now Fred and another brother, Harold, are building a remarkable tribute to the handsome, blond sibling they lost that spring: a fully-restored Lancaster bomber that will soon fly again.
"It's a memorial to my brother and to all the lads who flew in bomber squadrons during the war," says Fred, standing with Harold in the shadow of this magnificent aircraft.
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The brothers are 81 and 79 now; they made money farming chickens, and spent much of it in honour of Christopher.
First they bought the old airfield near their old home in East Kirkby, Lincs, and recreated the way it looked under Bomber Command.
Fred and Harold Panton with the four restored engines for thier restored Avro Lancaster 'Just Jane' (Geoff Pugh fot the Telegraph)
Then as the star attraction of a museum there, the brothers bought and began restoring the Avro Lancaster. They nicknamed it "Just Jane" after the popular wartime newspaper cartoon pin-up painted on the side.
Now they have just taken delivery of the last of four newly reconditioned Rolls-Royce Merlin engines – costing £130,000.00 GBP each – which will give Just Jane the power she needs to fly again.
"The fourth engine is the crown jewels, it means we will be able to get the Lancaster into the air," says Fred, who says that the bomber will now be stripped down and made ready. "We aren't spending all this money for nothing."
Aviation enthusiasts are excited by the news, because there are only two Lancasters in the world still flying. One of those is in Canada.
The other belongs to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, appearing alongside a Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire as a symbol of wartime bravery and sacrifice.
The Lancaster has a strong emotional appeal, even to those who are not normally passionate about planes.
Part of the reason is its history, still woven into our collective memory; the other is the way this huge craft moves through the air, with seemingly impossible grace. Soon Just Jane will do the same.
(Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph)
Unlike the Battle of Britain Lancaster stationed just a few miles up the road at RAF Coningsby, Just Jane is not funded by the taxpayer. This is a private project – and there is so much more to it than skilful engineers rebuilding a machine. It is a story of love and loss, and the urge to remember.
"Before the war, Chris trained to be a gamekeeper like our father," says Fred. "Then he signed up to be a flight engineer. We loved it when he came home on leave."
He shows me a black and white photograph of the teenage pilot officer, sitting in the sunshine on a wall at Old Bolingbroke, the house where they lived.
Christopher went away to fly in Halifax bombers with a British-based squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the fields next to the family home became a base for Lancasters.
"We saw them fly into here for the first time, one Sunday afternoon," remembers Harold, the smaller and quieter of the surviving brothers.
"We didn't know what kind of aircraft they were. All the boys went running around the school field with our arms out, pretending to be Lancasters."
These powerful planes flew so low as they passed that the family dog would run after them, barking.
"Sometimes, in the early morning, when the curtains were open and the moon was shining, you would see a shadow move across the wall and know they were coming in to land," says Harold.
The sound is what he remembers most. "When they came back, with all the load gone – the bombs, the fuel and most of the ammunition – those engines were free. They were singing."
Harold Panton with a photograph of the Royal Airforce band with their restored Lancaster bomber (Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph)
Many did not return. The chapel at the museum records the names of the 840 men who lost their lives flying from East Kirkby airfield, and Harold is very insistent that I see it. "That shows the point of this place." Later, I learn that it was built with pews from the church Christopher attended as a boy.
Fred says: "When we saw the Lancasters take off, we would think, ‘That looks like a big raid, I bet Chris will be going tonight as well.' We used to think about him every time." He pauses. "The very night we didn't think about him, that was the night he was lost."
Plt Off Engineer Christopher Panton's Handley Page Halifax flew towards Nuremberg on March 30 1944, in formation with more than 800 other aircraft. As they approached the target, the night skies cleared.
"The pilot said that at 20,000 feet you could see the streets and the rivers shining like strips of ribbon," says Fred. But that also made the bombers an easier target. "A German night fighter shot the starboard inner engine and the plane caught fire."
The rear gunner and the wireless operator managed to escape, but seven seconds after the order to bale out, the aircraft exploded. "The pilot was blown out of the side, he had no idea how his parachute opened," says Fred, who has met him. Christopher Panton would have been killed instantly.
"I knew the lad who brought us the telegram four days later, he sat next to me at school," says Fred. "His mother had the Post Office. I saw him get off his bike, then I saw the little buff envelope and thought, ‘I bet that's something about Chrissy'."
Fred watched from across the road as his mother accepted the envelope, left the front door open and went upstairs.
"I knew then. My Dad was in bed with the flu but he came down to sit by the fire and I could see he really was upset. I daredn't go back in the house.
"I ran across to a barn where the hay was and sat there until late at night, when I had to go back, because they would be missing me too. Actually, it was my father who was hit hardest. It was a long while before he got over that. Years."
The brothers wanted to go to Germany after the war, to visit the crash site. "Father forbade it." He did not relent until 1972, only a few weeks before his own death. To Harold's astonishment, fragments of the plane were still lying around. "You could just kick the earth and find bits of it."
They are now in a display case at the museum, except for one fragment: a small cycling spanner that Christopher Panton used to keep in his pocket at all times. "I've got it at home," says Fred. "There was a little bit of his uniform stuck on the spanner. We've never cleaned it."
With their father's help, the brothers set up a poultry farm after the war. They started with 28 chickens but now have 1.6 million, on six sites. The company is run by their sons, allowing Fred and Harold to give their time to the site they bought in 1981.
"I thought there would soon be nothing left of these airfields, and no trace of what these lads did," says Fred. They had always wanted to buy a Halifax, but their father was against it. By the time they had somewhere to keep such a plane, there were no more left. So in 1983 they acquired NX611, a Lancaster built in 1945 and flown by the French in New Caledonia and Australia before coming home to stand as an earthbound mascot by the gate at RAF Scampton.
The brothers began to employ former RAF engineers to restore the Lancaster, as they still do, and built the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre around it.
"The work we do on the aircraft is paid for by the museum," says Fred. It now has a staff of 15 and receives up to 40,000 visitors a year.
They include enthusiasts who pay £270.00 GBP for a bone-shaking ride inside Just Jane as she taxis around the airfield.
"On bank holidays, we're chock-a-block here," says Fred with a grin. "The interest is phenomenal, and it's growing. They're getting younger, too. The kids want to know what Grandad did."
The number of young visitors swelled after Just Jane featured in the Doctor Who Christmas special for 2011. Alexander Armstrong, who played the pilot, was overcome by how little space the crew had on board: "I had to fight a bit of claustrophobia for the first hour in the cockpit."
Andrew Panton, 26, who is Fred's grandson and the general manager of the museum, says: "We call it a reverse Tardis, because it's huge on the outside and small on the inside. They built the bomb bay first and thought about the crew afterwards."
Stripping the Lancaster down to make it airworthy will take a year or so, but the brothers will see it through, promises Fred. "We are in our twilight years now, but we have more to do. I want to watch it take off, do a fly-past then land. Then I shall say, ‘Mission accomplished'."

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