Lancaster NX611, Just Jane

I got to go in a taxy ride on board the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ at the Lincolnshire Heritage Centre. They described the aircraft as a ‘reverse tardis’ at the centre before we went on board, this is a pretty good analogy. So much of the aircraft is bomb bay that the crew areas are pretty tiny.

Having been in and sat in all the positions and in one while all the engines have been running I have a new found respect for the brave young lads that went to war in these aircraft, especially the tail turret gunner, whose average life expectancy was 40 hours. Their tour of duty was 30 trips, each of around 10 hours…

Anyway, here are some photographs from both inside and out:

Returning from the 2nd taxy run of the day:

Heading out on the 2nd taxy run:

Just Jane’s nose section, the bomb aimers compartment is probably one of the bigger sections in the aircraft. When stood up to man the nose turret the space is suddenly reduced and you have the breaches of the machine guns very close to your shoulders, certainly an awkward position to stand in:

The mammoth wheels and sturdy undercarriage, responsible for holding significant bomb loads during take off:

The bomb bay, the Lancaster could carry the same bomb load as the B52, albeit not as far or as fast. When the grand slam was dropped from underneath the aircraft would climb 1000 feet due to the nose high attitude it was flying in to keep the huge payload airborne. Note the 2 port holes at the rear of the bomb bay for the crew to check no bombs had hung up:

The average life expectancy of a tail gunner was around 40 hours. Each crew was expected to make 30 trips of around 10 hours each to complete a tour of duty. The position is hard to get into and out of when stationary, let alone when spinning out of control and in flames. Remember these brave young men who sat for 10 hours at a time at night in the dark and fairly isolated in the aircraft:

The bomb aimers position from the inside:

The H2S radar operator’s position - these units were only fitted on a few lancasters I believe:

The tail turret from the inside, the double handed control in the centre was the joystick for controlling the turret. The gunner’s parachute was on the wall inside the aircraft to the left of this shot. He would reach in and grab it, clip it to his chest harness and turn the turret to one side so he could fall out of the back… hopefully. The turret is powered only by the number 2 engine, which if lost renders the turret immobile bar a hand winding mechanism:

Just Jane, lurking in the hangar:

Great pics!
If you put some short comment on each pic, and in case you still like it, I can make another “Wheeler’s page” on :wink:

I have it from a very good source that ‘Jane’ could well be airbourne in the near future…:wink:

Nice pics btw

Near future? If that is 2 years or more, yes - they are aiming to get her airborne. They have done the feasibility studies and are still going ahead which is good news!

Bear, I will add comments for you. Of course you can use them on the 51 page.

Fantastic pics James, I wish I’d had my kit when I took my photo’s instead of my point and shoot. :slight_smile:

I did this a few years ago, the pic in my avatar is in the pilot seat.

Its quite an experience when they open up the taps on all four merlins and you begin to roll forward. Absolutely deafening and you “feel” the Lanc in every part of your body.

Did you sit in the rear turret? It was incredibly cramped. Trying to back out of the turret and get back over the tail wheel housing was really difficult as well. It hit home how difficult it must have been trying to get out of whilst it was spinning, all in pitch black darkness.

I did we sat in all the positions. Very hard to get in and out of indeed.

It is an incredible experience to be inside one when running. Great stuff indeed.

Thank you very much for the story and the pics Insight. Very interesting and superb photos.

New engines and props are already ‘in country’, East Midlands Airport so I am led to believe

According to one of the guys there they have received one of them. Just getting it airworthy is only part of the battle.

You have to have so many spares of various bits etc in catalogued stores to accumulate too.

How much is the taxi run?

I’m moving to my house in Bomber County towards the end of the year. Distance 35 miles :smiley: