Engineers lay out parts of WWII Lancaster bomber like a giant AIRFIX model


Looking like the largest Airfix model you could possibly imagine, parts of a World War Two Lancaster bomber are laid-out in a hangar waiting to be assembled. But this is not a toy. 

The pieces of wing, fuselage, bombs, machine guns and propeller blades are all real.

The famous aircraft is three years into a ten-year restoration at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, which will see it return to the skies to add to the two remaining bombers which are still flying.

Before it can fly again, each part of the four-engined plane, which is called ‘Just Jane’, needs to be stripped-down, checked, repaired or re-built so a certificate of airworthiness can be issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Looking like the largest Airfix model you could possibly imagine, parts of a World War Two Lancaster bomber are laid-out in a hangar waiting to be assembled. But this is not a toy. The pieces of wing, fuselage, bombs, machine guns and propeller blades are all real. The famous aircraft is three years into a ten-year restoration at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, which will see it return to the skies to add to the two remaining bombers which are still flying

Before it can fly again, each part of the four-engined plane, which is called 'Just Jane', needs to be stripped-down, checked, repaired or re-built so a certificate of airworthiness can be issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Pictured: Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery (left), 57, and apprentice engineer Bradley Winder, 24 guide the rear fuselage towards the main body of the aircraft

Before it can fly again, each part of the four-engined plane, which is called ‘Just Jane’, needs to be stripped-down, checked, repaired or re-built so a certificate of airworthiness can be issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Pictured: Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery (left), 57, and apprentice engineer Bradley Winder, 24 guide the rear fuselage towards the main body of the aircraft

During the summer months Just Jane is used for ground displays and taxiing passengers around a former RAF airfield in Lincolnshire. Pictured: A view of the cockpit gives an indication of the view which pilots in the Second World War took in each time they flew the plane

During the summer months Just Jane is used for ground displays and taxiing passengers around a former RAF airfield in Lincolnshire. Pictured: A view of the cockpit gives an indication of the view which pilots in the Second World War took in each time they flew the plane

Every winter, as part of the £4million project, different sections of the Lancaster are restored. This year it's the huge tail and rear fuselage that's being worked on. Pictured: One of the aircraft's four twelve-cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin engines. The plane has a pristine new paint job which is faithful to how the plane would have looked during the Second World War

Every winter, as part of the £4million project, different sections of the Lancaster are restored. This year it’s the huge tail and rear fuselage that’s being worked on. Pictured: One of the aircraft’s four twelve-cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin engines. The plane has a pristine new paint job which is faithful to how the plane would have looked during the Second World War

In April 1952 Just Jane was bought by the French Government. Painted midnight blue, she flew in maritime patrols for the French. Ten years later, she went to Noumeau, New Caledonia, was painted white and used for air sea rescue and cartography. Pictured: The plane is seen at RAAF Butterworth in Malaysia, preparing for her flight back to the UK from Australia, in November 1962

In April 1952 Just Jane was bought by the French Government. Painted midnight blue, she flew in maritime patrols for the French. Ten years later, she went to Noumeau, New Caledonia, was painted white and used for air sea rescue and cartography. Pictured: The plane is seen at RAAF Butterworth in Malaysia, preparing for her flight back to the UK from Australia, in November 1962

Some 7,377 Lancasters had carried out more than 150,000 missions by the end of the Second World War —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943.

They had also dropped more than 600,000 tons of bombs on the enemy, a feat unequalled by any other plane.

The men who flew them had the most perilous posting of the war – Bomber Command – and 3,249 aircraft and their crews would be lost in action. 

During the summer months Just Jane is used for ground displays and taxiing passengers around a former RAF airfield in Lincolnshire.

But every winter, as part of the £4million project, different sections of the Lancaster are restored. This year it’s the huge tail and rear fuselage that’s being worked on.

Andrew Panton, 33, general manager at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, said: ‘This year we thought with the number of parts we have removed from the Aircraft it looks very much like an Airfix kit. 

Andrew Panton, 33, general manager at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, said: 'This year we thought with the number of parts we have removed from the Aircraft it looks very much like an Airfix kit'. Pictured: Parts of the plane sit on the hangar floor. They include the four Browning machine guns (centre) and one of the 250lb bombs which the plane carried (top right)

Andrew Panton, 33, general manager at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, said: ‘This year we thought with the number of parts we have removed from the Aircraft it looks very much like an Airfix kit’. Pictured: Parts of the plane sit on the hangar floor. They include the four Browning machine guns (centre) and one of the 250lb bombs which the plane carried (top right)

Mr Panton said his team set out to see how the plane would look from the air, 'as an Airfix kit would have done in the packet'. He said that the Lancaster is a sectional aircraft, meaning that it comes apart in its major component pieces and then bolts back together again. Mr Panton said the aircraft reassembles 'in a similar way you glue an Airfix kit back together'. Pictured: Engineer Mr Jeffrey working in the plane's main fuselage

Mr Panton said his team set out to see how the plane would look from the air, ‘as an Airfix kit would have done in the packet’. He said that the Lancaster is a sectional aircraft, meaning that it comes apart in its major component pieces and then bolts back together again. Mr Panton said the aircraft reassembles ‘in a similar way you glue an Airfix kit back together’. Pictured: Engineer Mr Jeffrey working in the plane’s main fuselage

Mr Panton said that working on the project is 'very reminiscent of being a child' in the way in which the plane has been taken part and bolted back together again, like an Airfix model. He added: 'On a plane this age, the rivets start to crumble and need to be replaced. As for "instructions", we have original RAF manuals and thousands of original AVRO drawings to work from'. Pictured: Mr Jeffery and apprentice engineer Mr Winder move a rudder

Mr Panton said that working on the project is ‘very reminiscent of being a child’ in the way in which the plane has been taken part and bolted back together again, like an Airfix model. He added: ‘On a plane this age, the rivets start to crumble and need to be replaced. As for “instructions”, we have original RAF manuals and thousands of original AVRO drawings to work from’. Pictured: Mr Jeffery and apprentice engineer Mr Winder move a rudder

Mr Panton's great-uncle Christopher Panton was shot-down and killed during a raid on Nuremberg, Germany in a Halifax bomber in March 1944 when he was only 19 years-old . The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, which is at the site of the former RAF East Kirkby airfield, is a tribute to him and the whole of Bomber Command. Pictured: The plane's original Browning machine guns

Mr Panton’s great-uncle Christopher Panton was shot-down and killed during a raid on Nuremberg, Germany in a Halifax bomber in March 1944 when he was only 19 years-old . The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, which is at the site of the former RAF East Kirkby airfield, is a tribute to him and the whole of Bomber Command. Pictured: The plane’s original Browning machine guns

The plane is the only running Lancaster in Europe which visitors can climb aboard. The plane was bought in the early 1980s and moved there in 1988 to become the institution's central attraction. Pictured: Part of the plane's wing sits on supports as the restoration work continues

The plane is the only running Lancaster in Europe which visitors can climb aboard. The plane was bought in the early 1980s and moved there in 1988 to become the institution’s central attraction. Pictured: Part of the plane’s wing sits on supports as the restoration work continues

The cover for the H2S radar which was fitted to the plane sits upside down in the hangar

The plane's throttle controls

When the plane is not in pieces, it is used to taxi passengers around the airfield so they can get an experience of a Second World War Lancaster bomber on an ‘original’ airfield. Mr Panton added: ‘The next stage which we’re progressing to is making her airworthy so she can fly on air-show circuits and possibly with passengers in the future’. Pictured left: The cover for the H2S radar which was fitted to the plane sits upside down in the hangar. Right: The plane’s throttle controls

‘So we’ve set it out to see just what it would look like from the air, as an Airfix kit would have done in the packet. The Lancaster is a sectional aircraft, so it does come apart in its major component pieces.

‘It bolts back together again in a similar way you glue an Airfix kit back together as well. 

‘So a lot of the parts, you’ll see here are parts you’ll take out of the Airfix kit so it is very reminiscent of being a child, building it up, actually taking the aircraft apart and bolting it back together again is a similar concept.  

‘On a plane this age, the rivets start to crumble and need to be replaced. As for “instructions”, we have original RAF manuals and thousands of original AVRO drawings to work from.’

Mr Panton’s great-uncle Christopher Panton was shot-down and killed during a raid on Nuremberg, Germany in a Halifax bomber in March 1944 when he was only 19 years-old . 

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, which is at the site of the former RAF East Kirkby airfield, is a tribute to him and the whole of Bomber Command.

Mr Panton said many veterans have come back to East Kirkby, the place where they may have flown during the War. The airfield opened in August 1943 and was a base for the RAF's Bomber Command. Pictured: The plane's cockpit

Mr Panton said many veterans have come back to East Kirkby, the place where they may have flown during the War. The airfield opened in August 1943 and was a base for the RAF’s Bomber Command. Pictured: The plane’s cockpit

The plane was built by Austin Motors in Longbridge near Birmingham in April 1945 and was due to become part of the RAF's Tiger Force in the Far East. The early surrender of Japan meant Just Jane did not see service and went on to be used by the French Naval Air Arm

The plane was built by Austin Motors in Longbridge near Birmingham in April 1945 and was due to become part of the RAF’s Tiger Force in the Far East. The early surrender of Japan meant Just Jane did not see service and went on to be used by the French Naval Air Arm

The plane's Trolley Accumulator is seen above. It was an external battery which was used to start the aircraft's engines. One of the men working on the project, Roy Lemmon, 56, said he will be 'chuffed' when the Lancaster takes to the skies again. He said: 'It's a privilege, it's interesting, it's something different. There's a lot of corrosion and people have tried to repair it without the view of it flying, so it's got to be taken to pieces and done properly'

The plane’s Trolley Accumulator is seen above. It was an external battery which was used to start the aircraft’s engines. One of the men working on the project, Roy Lemmon, 56, said he will be ‘chuffed’ when the Lancaster takes to the skies again. He said: ‘It’s a privilege, it’s interesting, it’s something different. There’s a lot of corrosion and people have tried to repair it without the view of it flying, so it’s got to be taken to pieces and done properly’

Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery and apprentice engineer Bradley Winder move a rudder as the partially-assembled Lancaster looms behind them. It is hoped that the plane will be able to take to the skies again later this decade

Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery and apprentice engineer Bradley Winder move a rudder as the partially-assembled Lancaster looms behind them. It is hoped that the plane will be able to take to the skies again later this decade

Next year will be the 80th anniversary of the Lancaster first going into service. 'Just Jane' was built by Austin Motors in Longbridge, in 1945. She had the serial number NX611, and was intended to become part of an RAF squadron in the Far East. Pictured: Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder and aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery work inside both sections of fuselage

Next year will be the 80th anniversary of the Lancaster first going into service. ‘Just Jane’ was built by Austin Motors in Longbridge, in 1945. She had the serial number NX611, and was intended to become part of an RAF squadron in the Far East. Pictured: Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder and aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery work inside both sections of fuselage

The seven-man Lancaster crew consisted of a pilot, bomb aimer or nose gunner, wireless operator, flight engineer, navigator and mid-upper and rear gunners. Pictured: The plane's tail turret

The seven-man Lancaster crew consisted of a pilot, bomb aimer or nose gunner, wireless operator, flight engineer, navigator and mid-upper and rear gunners. Pictured: The plane’s tail turret

Overall, of the 6,000 Lancasters which were made available for duty in the war, 3,400 were lost. Tragically, about 55,000 out of the 125,000 aircrew who served in Bomber Command were killed, while 10,000 became prisoners of war. Pictured: Just Jane's parts are seen laid out as the aircraft is worked on

Overall, of the 6,000 Lancasters which were made available for duty in the war, 3,400 were lost. Tragically, about 55,000 out of the 125,000 aircrew who served in Bomber Command were killed, while 10,000 became prisoners of war. Pictured: Just Jane’s parts are seen laid out as the aircraft is worked on

Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder inspects one of the aircraft's four twelve-cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin engines

Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder inspects one of the aircraft’s four twelve-cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin engines

Mr Panton added: ‘At the moment she’s the only running Lancaster that you can get on board in Europe. 

‘The Lancaster here was bought in the early 1980s and moved here in 1988 and has become the centre-piece of the museum. 

A history of the Lancaster Bomber ‘Just Jane’

‘Just Jane’ was built by Austin Motors in Longbridge, near Birmingham, in 1945.

She had the serial number NX611, and was intended to become part of an RAF squadron in the Far East. 

Following the surrender of Japan the bomber did not see active service. 

After the war, in 1952, she was bought by the French and used for air sea rescue. 

Ten years later, Just Jane went to Noumeau, in New Caledonia, which is part of islands in the South Pacific owned by France.

She was painted white and once again used for air sea rescue. 

The plane was then flown to Sydney in 1964, where she was overhauled before being flown back to Britain. 

It was not until 1967 before Just Jane flew again, and future public appearances were brief because of the cost.

She was then flown to Suffolk before being put up for sale in 1972. 

However, the plane was bought in 1983 by brothers  Fred and Harold Panton. 

They believed it would be the perfect monument to their brother Christopher who was killed while serving in Bomber Command. 

In 1993, the first moves were made to begin restoring the plane at the site of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre and it was gotten to a fully operation taxiing standard.          

‘We taxi passengers around the airfield and they get the experience of a WW2 Lancaster bomber on an original WW2 airfield.

‘The next stage which we’re progressing to is making her airworthy so she can fly on air-show circuits and possibly with passengers in the future’

‘The plane stands as a memorial to Bomber Command during WW2. 

‘So it’s important that she’s kept in a running condition and restored to airworthy condition, which would make her only the third airworthy Lancaster in the world. 

‘In the past we’ve had many veterans come back to East Kirkby, whether they flew from here during the war or whether they operated with Bomber Command, so for them to come back and experience the Lancaster again brings back many memories. 

‘Good memories and of course bad memories as well. And now we’re getting the families of those veterans coming to experience a little bit of what their fathers and grandfathers did during the Second World War’.  

Mr Panton previously said when the project began: ‘The work is quite easy in the grand scheme of things, it’s quite standard stuff – it’s just having the knowledge to do it.

‘It’s important work for that aircraft, and for the memory of Bomber Command, and the nation.’ 

Next year will be the 80th anniversary of the Lancaster first going into service. 

‘Just Jane’ was built by Austin Motors in Longbridge, near Birmingham, in 1945.

She had the serial number NX611, and was intended to become part of an RAF squadron in the Far East. 

Following the surrender of Japan the bomber did not see active service. After the war she was bought by the French and used for air sea rescue. 

One of the men working on the project, Roy Lemmon, 56, said when the project began that he will be ‘chuffed’ when the Lancaster takes to the skies again.

He said: ‘It’s a privilege, it’s interesting, it’s something different. There’s a lot of corrosion and people have tried to repair it without the view of it flying, so it’s got to be taken to pieces and done properly.’

Another person helping on the project, Brian Howard, 67, said: ‘There’s a lot of work to be done, and it makes you think about what you’ve got to do next. It’s the oldest thing I’ve ever worked on – it feels fantastic.

The first prototypes of the Lancaster were built in 1941. They impressed test pilots immediately. One reported that the plane 'took off like a startled stallion'. Pictured: Pieces of the plane are seen laid out in the hangar

The first prototypes of the Lancaster were built in 1941. They impressed test pilots immediately. One reported that the plane ‘took off like a startled stallion’. Pictured: Pieces of the plane are seen laid out in the hangar

By 1942, the plane was ready for active service. Lancasters were used that year in raid on Augsburg in 1942. Pictured: Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder and aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery work inside both sections of fuselage

By 1942, the plane was ready for active service. Lancasters were used that year in raid on Augsburg in 1942. Pictured: Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder and aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery work inside both sections of fuselage

From 1942 onwards, the planes played a leading role in every major raid on German cities. Of the 791 planes which dropped bombs on Hamburg on the night of July 24/25 in 1943, 247 of them were Lancasters. Pictured: Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery works on one of the Lancaster's Merlin engines

From 1942 onwards, the planes played a leading role in every major raid on German cities. Of the 791 planes which dropped bombs on Hamburg on the night of July 24/25 in 1943, 247 of them were Lancasters. Pictured: Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery works on one of the Lancaster’s Merlin engines

Lancasters were also modified to be able to carry bouncing bombs so they could be used in the famous Dambusters raids. However, the human cost of the raids which the Lancasters were involved in was enormous. Tens of thousands of German civilians were killed and cities were devastated. As for the pilots, in 1943, only one airman in six could expect to survive his first tour of 30 sorties. Pictured: Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder works inside the rear fuselage

Lancasters were also modified to be able to carry bouncing bombs so they could be used in the famous Dambusters raids. However, the human cost of the raids which the Lancasters were involved in was enormous. Tens of thousands of German civilians were killed and cities were devastated. As for the pilots, in 1943, only one airman in six could expect to survive his first tour of 30 sorties. Pictured: Apprentice engineer Bradley Winder works inside the rear fuselage

Some 7,377 Lancasters had carried out more than 150,000 missions by the end of the Second World War —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943. Pictured: The front of the plane is seen during restoration work

Some 7,377 Lancasters had carried out more than 150,000 missions by the end of the Second World War —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943. Pictured: The front of the plane is seen during restoration work

A big model: The rear part of the plane is seen laid out in the style of a giant Airfix model. The plane is being restored at the site of RAF East Kirkby, where bombers once flew from

A big model: The rear part of the plane is seen laid out in the style of a giant Airfix model. The plane is being restored at the site of RAF East Kirkby, where bombers once flew from

Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery stands by nose of Lancaster, giving an indication of its imposing size. When in one piece, the bomber is more than 69 feet long and has a wingspan of 102 feet

Aircraft engineer Gerbs Jeffery stands by nose of Lancaster, giving an indication of its imposing size. When in one piece, the bomber is more than 69 feet long and has a wingspan of 102 feet

An illustration on the side of the plane gives its name away. It shows a bikini-clad woman sitting on one of the aircraft's bombs

An illustration on the side of the plane gives its name away. It shows a bikini-clad woman sitting on one of the aircraft’s bombs

‘I just miss a lot of the drawings, that’s all. Everything has got to be in your head because you’re so used to looking at a computer.’  

A fundraising club has also been set up for people wishing to make a regular donation. 

For details visit www.lincsaviation.co.uk  

Just Jane is seen on the runway at East Kirkby in a file image. The plane is used during the summer to taxi visitors around the airfield

Just Jane is seen on the runway at East Kirkby in a file image. The plane is used during the summer to taxi visitors around the airfield

Old footage shows Just Jane at an airfield shortly after the Second World War

Old footage shows Just Jane at an airfield shortly after the Second World War

THE LANCASTER BOMBER: THE PLANE WHICH DROPPED THOUSANDS OF TONNES OF BOMBS ON GERMANY

By the end of the war, 7,377 Lancaster Bombers would have carried out more than 150,000 missions —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943 — and dropped more than 600,000 tons of bombs on the enemy, a feat unequalled by any other plane.

The men who flew them, in the RAF’s Bomber Command, had the most perilous posting of the entire war – 3,249 aircraft and their crews would be lost in action.

The first prototypes of the Lancaster were built in 1941. They impressed test pilots immediately. 

One reported that the plane ‘took off like a startled stallion’.

Some 7,377 Lancasters had carried out more than 150,000 missions by the end of the Second World War —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943. Pictured: A Lancaster in flight over Britain in 1942, during the War

By the end of the war, 7,377 Lancaster Bombers would have carried out more than 150,000 missions —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943 — and dropped more than 600,000 tons of bombs on the enemy, a feat unequalled by any other plane

By 1942, the plane was ready for active service. Lancasters were used that year in raid on Augsburg in 1942.

From 1942 onwards, the planes played a leading role in every major raid on German cities. 

Of the 791 planes which dropped bombs on Hamburg on the night of July 24/25 in 1943, 247 of them were Lancasters. 

Lancasters were also modified to be able to carry bouncing bombs so they could be used in the famous Dambusters raids. 

However, the human cost of the raids which the Lancasters were involved in was enormous. 

Tens of thousands of German civilians were killed and cities were devastated. 

As for the pilots, in 1943, only one airman in six could expect to survive his first tour of 30 sorties.   

The plane in numbers 

LENGTH: 69ft 6in

WINGSPAN: 102ft

POWER: 1,640 hp each

ENGINE: 4 x Packard Merlin 224

MAXIMUM SPEED: 275mph

CRUISING SPEED: 210mph

SERVICE CEILING: 25,700ft

RANGE: 2,530 miles

The Bomber Command crew in numbers 

19 Victoria Crosses won by men of Bomber Command, including Guy Gibson, who led the Dam Busters raid

125,000 Bomber Command air crew serving during WWII

55,573 died in action, a death rate of 44 per cent

4 per cent average chance of being shot down per mission – but crews had to complete at least 30. 

Chances of surviving were lower than an infantry officer in First World War trenches

9,838 bomber crew became prisoners of war

1.3m tons of bombs dropped by the Allies on Germany

635,000 is the estimate of German civilians killed

72 per cent of Bomber Command dead were British. The rest were from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

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