The Alberta Aviation Museum has sent confirmation to the City of Edmundston that they are withdrawing from a project put together to preserve and restore Lancaster bomber KB 882. There had been a publication of a call for interest in this project to various Canadian museums in March of 2015. The Edmundston City Council was on board with transferring the fragile Lancaster to the Alberta Aviation Museum.
This difficult decision to withdraw came as a result of a recommendation from the non-operational Society for the Preservation of Lancaster KB 882 in Edmundston. It has put in 15 years worth of effort to try and save this plane, but it was time to recognize the reality that financing this project had proved to be impossible. The funding had simply dried up. The members of the Society contacted the City Council reluctantly, but the aircraft was in critical condition. It was a decision that had to be made. In March, 2015 the City of Edmundston and the Alberta Aviation Museum signed a formal agreement.
This World War II bomber is a landmark that had been located at the border of Québec and New Brunswick dating back to 1964. However, with each passing year, the aircraft has continued to diminish and deteriorate. Despite the genuine efforts of volunteers with the Society to raise funds to construct a hangar and preserve this rare aircraft, it just was not happening. The group had to face the reality and accept that there was not enough support for this project. In the fall of 2014, they officially decided to see which Canadian museums might be interested and also have expertise in the preservation and restoration of this aircraft.
The next steps to save the aircraft are still a bit unclear. There is another Canadian aviation museum that has demonstrated some interest. Before an official decision is made, the City of Edmundston’s new City Council will be briefed with all the information.
Edmundston Mayor Mr. Cyrille Simard said, “I commend the Alberta Aviation Museum for their efforts during the past year. We now have to look at the different scenarios to save this important Canadian heritage jewel.” He knows that the Society for the Preservation of Lancaster KB 882 in Edmundston and the Alberta Aviation Museum both saw the high volume of work needed for this aircraft coupled with the large financial costs associated with it.
- The Avro Lancaster has a four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. During World War II, it was the biggest heavy bomber in the entire British Commonwealth fleet. The wingspan measured 61 meters (102 feet) and the plane had a length of 21 meters (70 feet). It was capable of carrying upwards of 10 thousand kilograms (22 thousand lbs) worth of bombs.
- There were 7000 built in total, but only 17 of the aircraft remain in existence (including two flying versions). One of them is at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum near Hamilton, Ontario.
- KB 882 was one of 430 Lancasters built by Victory Aircraft. This was a government-owned company that participated in the war effort. Built toward the end of 1944, it was a Mark X model that was flown to Britain in the early part of 1945. It flew 11 missions there.
- After the war ended, the aircraft was sent back to Canada to be used by the RCAF. Then the plane was transitioned to a P model, which included a 40-inch extension to the nose. This helped to accommodate the new navigation and weather radar technology needed to photograph and map areas of Canada’s high arctic.
- Finally in 1964, the plane was retired after its last flight to Edmundston NB. The city opted to purchase it for $1,400 to serve as a monument.