AVRO Lancaster by Mark Barnes

This book serves as a fitting tribute to the 55,000 Bomber Command personnel killed in…

AVRO LANCASTER – 1941 onwards (all marks)

Owners’ Workshop Manual by Jarrod Cotter and Paul Blackah.

Esquelbecq is a village to the east of Dunkirk. The war cemetery there is a particularly sad place because it is where many victims of an infamous massacre of British prisoners of war by the SS in 1940 are buried. Just along from these men is a separate grave of a Lancaster bomber crew killed in 1944. In a way there is a symmetry about this, for it was Bomber Command, with the Lancaster in particular, who hammered the Nazis from first to last.

This book serves as a fitting tribute to the 55,000 Bomber Command personnel killed in World War II in partnership with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s own flying memorial to them all.

With the much deserved success of the Spitfire owner’s manual behind them, Haynes have now turned to the Lancaster. The format is essentially the same, but with far fewer surviving examples to focus on, the book naturally leans towards the BBMF’s PA474.

It is difficult to review a book one is more likely to dip in from time to time as opposed to read from cover to cover in one sitting. You’ll happily sit down with a cuppa and get through a few pages at a time and even go back over some. It has the usual quality of illustrations and a readable and engaging text with a style to suit the serious and casual reader alike. There appears to be a lot more technical information about this book than the previous example. Perhaps this is correct given the huge amount of work going in to the construction of a Lancaster. Five hundred thousand processes were involved in building each one. There is a lot more to the aircraft.

There is nothing I can say that should or could put you off acquiring this book. It is a gem. I will find many an excuse to return to my copy. Whereas the Spitfire had glamour the Lancaster is the sturdy yeoman. I have to admit I am much more inclined towards the bomber than the fighter and this book ticks all the right boxes for me. I’ve never subscribed to the guilt trip about the British bomber offensive against Germany. The human toll was massive, this is undeniable. But in a war for the very survival of all that was, and should still be, held dear; there were few ways for Britain to bring the war directly into to the heart of the Reich. But we should not separate nostalgia for the Lancaster from the reality of it’s use.

When it comes to cars, modern automotives have hit local garage and home maintenance alike. Haynes have proved themselves to be very smart as they diversify away from the traditional car manuals we know and love. At the book launch I heard a few whispers about what military subjects we can expect next. All I can say is watch this space!

Published by Haynes ISBN 978 1 84425 463 7

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.