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Photo Du JourWindsor

Lancaster Bomber On The Move

As a memorial to the Lancaster Bombers and pilots who flew relief missions into Holland during Operation Manna, Windsor’s Lancaster Bomber FM212 is making its way to the Devonshire Mall Parking Lot for a few days. The first public appearance for the Lancaster since being removed from the pedestal in Jackson Park, and entering storage and undergoing restoration.

In an effort to relieve the Dutch famine, in what became known as Operation Manna, negotiations took place with the German occupiers for coordinated dropping of food by the Royal Air Force over what was still German-occupied Dutch territory.

Operation Manna, 28 April – 8 May 1945, was a humanitarian operation to deliver food to the starving Dutch.

Instead of targets, aircrew were briefed on drop zones. The Germans had agreed on corridors of safe passage and where the drop zones could be located.

The Dutch first heard of the plans for Operation Manna on 24 April when it was announced by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Then on 29 April the people of Holland heard the BBC announce:

Bombers of the Royal Air Force have just taken off from their bases in England to drop food supplies to the Dutch population in enemy-occupied territory.

The first sortie on 29 April 1945 (that scheduled for 28 April had to be postponed due to bad weather) involved 242 Lancaster Bombers to drop the food and 8 Mosquitoes to mark the drop zones.

To ensure accuracy of the drop and that the food parcels hit the ground undamaged, the Lancasters flew at very low altitude (typically 500 ft or less) and at very slow speed

On the ground, green flares were fired to indicate the supplies were landing within the agreed drop zones, and red flares that they were straying into danger zones. A large white cross on the ground marked the centre of the drop zone.

During the next week over 3,000 sorties were flown dropping some 7,000 tons of food to the Dutch.

All kinds of action on McDougall Ave. at the crack of dawn on Sunday AM, as the Lancaster is readied for the tow to the mall.

For our friends south of the border who like to joke we have no military…. 🙂

A full military escort for the former Warbird.

With no pesky wings to get in the way, the Lanc starts rolling…

Tugged along by a forklift, one day the plan is to get the Lanc to be able to taxi around at the airport under her own power following restoration.

The scale of the aircraft is still amazing.

Even with regular car tires on her for the journey down the road…

Volunteers follow to the rear with the actual tires in their pickup trucks. I believe that smaller tires were required to allow the aircraft to clear under the utility lines en route.

It’s not every day you see a plane passing through the busy intersection of McDougall & Eugenie.

Rolling south on McDougall past A.G. Simpson and en route to the Sears Parking lot where it will be on display for the next two weeks. Cockpit tours will be available for a donation to the restoration.

Of the 7377 Lancaster Bombers built today only 17 remain, only 2 are still airworthy. A brief history of the Lancaster model can be found here.

Some stats and facts about our Lancaster, from the FM212 Website:

# One of 430 Lancasters produced in Canada, it was built in July 1945 by Victory Aircraft in Malton (Toronto)
# “FM212” is the manufacturer’s serial number for this particular aircraft
# Too late to see wartime service, FM212 was test flown then placed in storage. It was later modified to become the first Canadian-built Mark 10P (photographic) prototype. The gun turrets were deleted, and specialized camera and navigation equipment was installed, as well as two 400 gal. auxiliary fuel tanks in the bomb bay for extra range
# Taken on strength by 413 Photo Squadron RCAF in 1947 before being transferred to 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe (Ottawa) in 1949
# Performed a variety of roles including photomapping, reconnaissance, search & rescue, ice patrol, aircrew training and navigation exercises, etc. The photomapping was its predominant role however, and it utilized the new Shoran technology to accurately photograph the high Arctic areas to produce maps which until that time had been non-existent
# Wore several different paint schemes and markings during its service life such as “AK A”, “MN 212” and finally just “212”
# Logged 8,069.5 hours before being retired in 1962. Even today it is among the highest time Lancasters in the world
# With public concern growing about the scrapping of the last Lancaster Bombers, and the need for a local Memorial, a delegation consisting of Harry Brumpton, Cec Southward, Al Phillips and Ernie Waddell went to Dunnville, Ontario to select a Lancaster from the several that were stored there. They selected FM212 because it was the only Lancaster stored indoors
# A “Lancaster for Windsor” committee was formed headed by Wing Commander Joseph Mencel, and included many members of the Air Force Club of Windsor
# FM212 was purchased as a Memorial by the City of Windsor for $1,250 in 1964. Although airworthy, it was cost prohibitive to fly it to Windsor, so it was sent by barge from Dunnville, Ont. to Dieppe Park Gardens in August of that same year
# Upon arrival at Dieppe Park, the wings and engines were re-installed by Parks employees and the aircraft placed on temporary display
# The Lancaster remained in Dieppe Park through the autumn of 1964 and public tours were conducted for 50 cents per person. The money raised was used to pay for construction of the pedestal and other associated costs
# Towed to Jackson Park in Feb. 1965 and installed on the pedestal soon afterwards
# Dedicated on July 4, 1965 to the approximately 400 airmen from this area that died in WWII
# Maintained by Windsor’s Dept. of Parks & Recreation until a co-operative maintenance program began with the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association in Sept. of 1993
# Beginning in 1995, periodic inspections were carried out by an aeronautical engineering firm, which identified several areas of concern about the aircraft’s structure. It is also commonly recognized that a general deterioration of the aircraft as a whole has occurred over the years
# Out of the 7,377 Lancasters built worldwide seventeen still exist, eight of which are in Canada, including Windsor’s Lancaster FM212
# Learn more by visiting the website: www.lancasterfm212.freeservers.com

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