CANADIAN LANCASTER Mk X -
10MP and 10MR AIRCRAFT


Much has been written about the Avro Lancaster in wartime service; therefore the purpose of this web document is to focus on the Canadian Lancaster Mk X in its peacetime role as both a Maritime Reconnaissance and Maritime Patrol (MR and MP) aircraft. This includes a detailed listing of the electronics and photographic suite fitted on these variants.

In the late 1940's, the international situation was again changing with an increase in tension between East and West, culminating in the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and what Winston Churchill christened as "The Iron Curtain."  Canada reacted in several ways, one of which was the modification of seventy Lancasters to become Maritime Reconnaissance and later Maritime Patrol aircraft primarily for use in an anti-submarine role. This involved the installation of radar and sonobuoy operator positions and the removal of the mid-upper gun turret. A 400 gallon fuel tank was placed in the bomb-bay to increase the Lanc's patrol range but at a reduced capacity for ordnance. As well, provisions were made for a full time co-pilot, and a cooking stove was installed in the centre section. Upgraded electronics and instrumentation completed the conversion. Referred to as Lancaster 10MR and later as 10MP aircraft, they served throughout the 1950s until they were replaced by the Lockheed Neptune.

By the early 1950s it was apparent that the Cold War would continue into the foreseeable future. Submarines of the Soviet Navy were increasingly becoming a major threat to countries of the NATO alliance, and it was urgent that Canada's Maritime Forces be strengthened and provided with up-to-date equipment. This proved to be a period when Canada's defence expenditures increased dramatically; airfields were modernized, squadrons were reactivated, and new aircraft were ordered.

In 1952, the existing squadrons 404, 405, and the recently-reactivated 407 in Comox, B.C. were all equipped with the Lancaster Mark X.  This aircraft type, which had been a mainstay of Bomber Command during the war, was still equipped with its wartime H2S radar, which had been augmented by the CRT-1 sonobuoy system. The aging Lancasters were becoming harder and harder to maintain, and the supply of spares was drying up. Their crews were at a distinct disadvantage when exercising with other forces, let alone when attempting to carry out their own operational commitments.

The Lancaster Mk X was the Canadian-built version of the Avro Lancaster Mk I, and was manufactured by Victory Aircraft at Malton, Ontario. Canadian production totaled 430 aircraft. The Lanc was structurally identical to its British counterpart with the exception of the US-built Packard-Merlin engines and avionics. Two hundred and thirty-one Lancasters saw postwar service with the RCAF. Fifty-three aircraft were modified from wartime stock to the 10MR variant. [1]

This extract from the document "Early Cold War Anti-Submarine Warfare Development in Canada" by Leo Pettipas outlines equipment evolution in the MP Lanc.
 

"From the outset, the ASW Lancasters, designated 10MR, were fitted with British H2S radar, a proven piece of equipment carried by ASW aircraft later on in WWII.  With progressive research and development during the post-war period, better anti-submarine detection devices became available and by the mid-‘50s the H2S radar had been replaced with the American high definition AN/APS-33 radar – a good example of an evolutionary response to the snorkel detection problem.  The passive AN/CRT-1 sonobuoys, coupled with the AN/ARR-3 receiver system, were fitted to the 10MR Lancasters, as was a rear-facing F24 camera. Also carried was a wire recorder to preserve proof of detection and kill when used in conjunction with the sonobuoy receiver. Such recordings were also useful in evaluating attacks and in crew training.  To facilitate visual search, the nose (bomb-aimer’s) position retained the standard clear bubble, complemented by plexiglass blisters on both sides of the cockpit canopy and convex cylindrical lookout windows on both sides of the rear fuselage just forward of the tailplanes. To enhance its range and endurance, the fuel capacity of the Lancaster 10MR was complemented with a 400-gallon auxiliary fuel tank in the bomb bay.

Actually, the early Lancaster 10MRs can in some respects, be regarded as retrogressive or devolutionary in that other useful (and available) devices, including magnetic anomaly detection gear and the searchlight, both of which had been used effectively during the War, were not fitted.  For night-time illumination, the Lancasters were supplied with hand-launched flares rather than searchlights.

The activation of the system went as follows: When an attack was being carried out on a contact, the radar operator ordered illumination at the appropriate distance.  In the rear of the aircraft, members of the crew, usually three or four ‘bodies’ that weren't otherwise engaged, would stand around a tube with an inside diameter of about two inches, each clutching several small flares.  The chute had a device which ignited the flares as they passed through.  Just in case one didn't ignite, a broomstick (standard issue for each aircraft) was used to clear the launch tube.  The idea was that twelve of these small flares had to be burning at any one time in order for the target to be properly illuminated.  The crewmen desperately flung flares down the chute until the attack was completed or a stoppage was encountered. The adoption of this cumbersome procedure rather than the searchlight that could be activated with the flick of a switch, along with the absence of MAD gear in the Lancaster, represent examples of devolution in technology and technique in the early post-war RCAF.

In the spring of 1954, a Lancaster described as “a marvel of electronics” arrived at Station Greenwood.  It is surmised that this machine was used as a test bed by 404 Squadron’s Test and Evaluation Flight.  The nature of the new equipment is not specified in the available literature, but judging from the date it probably included the Canadian-designed AN/UPD-501 ECM direction-finder that permitted passive detection of radar emissions and homing the source as well.   The AN/APS-33 radar and new sonobuoy equipment replaced the existing sonos and receivers which, as early as February 1951, were already declared obsolete and were no longer in production.  At some point in its career, the 10MR received the AN/ASR-3 diesel submarine exhaust gas detection system, nicknamed “Sniffer”.

While running on its diesel engines in the open sea – even when submerged and snorting,  a conventional submarine trailed a cloud of invisible exhaust gases downwind.  The Sniffer could detect these emissions and register their presence.  By following these gases to their source, the aircraft could close in to visual or radar range, or drop a datum marker for a sonobuoy pattern.  The system was also known as “ETI”, or “Exhaust Trail Indicator”.  The RCAF placed greater faith in the Sniffer than did the Navy, who did trials with it in 1958-59 but did not apply it operationally".

lanc_greenwood_mac_naval_photo.jpg
This Lancaster (serial KB839), is part of the Greenwood Aviation Museum collection.   (Photo by Ian MacCorquodale, Mac's Naval Photography) 

Herb Smale of the Greenwood Aviation Museum, provides a backgrounder on this aircraft.  "It was on strength in 419 Squadron during WWII and carried out 26 operational missions. Postwar it was modified to the AR configuration and used by 408 Squadron.  When it finally came to Greenwood  as a display aircraft, it was still in its AR configuration. A team, of which I was a member, modified the aircraft so that  it would depict the look of an 10MR Lanc as used by Maritime Command.  In short it looks like an MR Lanc complete with an H2S radome and with two Frazer-Nash gun turrets front and back. We also repainted it so that it looks like a 404 Squadron Lanc".

MARK X SPECIFICATIONS

Unless otherwise noted, the data will reflect 10MR and 10MP variants.
Length: 69 feet , 6 in.
Wingspan: 102 feet
Height to tip of tail: 20 feet , 6 in.
Tailplane span: 33 feet
Maximum all up weight: 65,000 pounds maximum
Speed:  184 mph (160 knots) while patrolling ;  317  mph (275 knots) max.
Engines: Four Packard-Merlin 224-5, 12 cylinder,  vee-type, liquid cooled engines with two stage supercharger.
             Rated at 1640 hp.
Fuel: 100/130 octane avgas.
Fuel capacity: 2,154 Imp gallons in six fuel tanks - three tanks in each wing;  Optional 400 Imp gallon auxiliary tank for the 10MP/MR variants [3] ; 300 additional gallons in each of two tanks in 10N and a 400 Imp gallon tank in the 10P.
Oil capacity: One tank for each engine; 37.5 Imp gallons per tank.
Coolant capacity: 47 Imp gals for all four engines.
Armament: One hydraulically operated gun turret in the nose and tail positions. Two .303 Browning machine guns in the front turret and four in the rear turret.
Weapons: Torpedoes, bombs, depth charges, mines.
Bomb housings: 15 housings standard (10S), reduced to nine usable housings on the 10MR after the installation of the long range auxiliary fuel tank.
Total built by Victory Aircraft, Toronto: 430
Crew: Normal crew of 7 consisting of 2 pilots, 1 flight engineer, 2 navigators and 2 radio officers.Est coast squadrons carried 3 radio operators.[4]
Endurance:  8 hours normal patrol; 12 hours maximum
Year taken on strength: 1945
Year struck of strength:  Operational retirement started in 1955 when deliveries of the Neptune P2V7 began. All variants struck off charge by 1965.

VARIANTS

TYPE DESCRIPTION
10AR Arctic Reconnaissance - Similar to photographic reconnaissance variant. Rear observation windows. Extended nose. New search radar. Ten camera systems installed. Additional fuel tanks. Passive ECM. There was also space available on board for SIGINT and electronic intelligence (ELINT) personnel, if they were required.  Only three were converted : KB839, KB882 and KB976. It is not clear from available documentation when the government moved from photo-mapping operations to more dedicated intelligence gathering operations in the high Arctic, however the modification of three Lancasters to the Mk 10AR role was completed by early 1952.  
10BR Bomber Reconnaissance. Used in early postwar period only. With depth charges and probably with radar. Provision made for optional 1,828 litre ( 400 gal)  bomb bay tank. 
10DC Drone Carrier . Fitted for carrying two Ryan Firebee drones under each wing. De-icer boots. Rear observation window. One only:  KB851.
10MR Maritime Reconnaissance. The 10MR was a modified 10S aircraft. Included was a radar operator's station in rear centre section; sonobuoy operator's station in rear section;  day/night, rear-facing F24 cameras; Nose and tail turrets only; Provision made for optional 400 Imp gal (1,828 litre) bomb bay tank. De-icer boots; Rear observation windows.
10MP Maritime Patrol.  This was an upgraded 10MR aircraft [2] and the designation became active on 17 July 1956. The H2S radar was replaced with the AN/APS-33 radar and the AN/UPD-501 radar DF set was added as part of the upgrade. Provision made for optional 400 Imp gal fuel tank in bomb bay rack.
10N Long range Navigation trainer. Deletion of gun turrets. Modified first Navigator's position to a Master Navigator's position; a Navigator's position in the nose; an astrodome position  in the centre section. A Navigator's position in the rear section.  Two 400 Imp gal (1,828 litre) bomb bay tanks. Deicer boots. C2 compass; Loran A; Rebecca. Only five were modified: FM206, FM208,  FM211, KB826, and one unnamed. 
10O Test aircraft for Avro Orenda jet engines. Outer Merlins were removed and replaced with Orenda jet engines that were used in the CF-100 interceptor program. Had a modified nose and rear observation windows. Two 400 Imp gal (1,828 litre) bomb bay tanks. First flight on July 13, 1950. One only converted,  FM209.
10P Photographic Reconnaissance and Photographic Survey. Deletion of gun turrets; introduction of a Navigator's position in the nose section; installation of a Trimet camera array; Fairchild F224 or K17B ordnance survey camera in the rear centre section; Janitrol heater for rear fuselage. Two 400 Imp gal (1,828 litre) bomb bay tanks. De-icer boots. C2 compass; Loran A; Rebecca; low altitude radio altimeter and APU. The 10P photographed the remaining areas of the Canadian Arctic and by 1957 Canadians could look at the resulting maps and see what their large country looked like. 
10S Standard postwar bomber. Mid upper turret removed. De-icer boots and APU. The designation 'standard' was allocated to Lancasters for museum or display purposes and also to aircraft held in storage which were used to supply spares for active aircraft. 
10SR The 10SR was a Search and Rescue aircraft converted from a 10MP variant with added radios and Lindholme rescue gear. Eight examples were converted.
10U Standard bomber - unmodified. The aircraft were held in storage for any specific role.

PAINT SCHEMES

10MRs were flown in their their natural aluminum finish.When 10MPs saw service, the belly was painted a light grey but the upper fuselage was left in a natural finish.

One colour photo shows a derelict 405 Squadron example (Fig 1 below) with what appears to be a very pale green underbelly and another of a Comox aircraft (Fig 2 ) showing a light grey underbelly. Ther latter is clearly a 10MP. In both cases, a (black?) lightning bolt runs the entire length of the fuselage and separates the painted underbelly from the unpainted upper sides.

The colours of the propeller spinners were straightforward at the beginning. These were the original colours when the squadrons were formed:

405 Sqn              - Yellow
404 Sqn              - Light Blue
103 Rescue Unit  - Red
407 Sqn              - Green
2(M) OTU          - White

These colours sometimes changed late at night, after a mess dinner when phantom painters cruised the flight line painting their own colours on the spinners over top of the official colour.

rrp3/lanc_10mp_colour_scheme1.jpg
Figure 1 (From Canada's Air Forces at War and Peace Vol.3. Used with permission)
anc_10mp_colour_scheme2.jpg
Figure 2 (From Canada's Air Forces at War and Peace Vol.3. Used with permission)
RADIO OPERATORS/NAVIGATORS
At the end of WWII, the size of the RCAF would be reduced from its wartime high of over 200,000 personnel to approximately 12,000. With an air force of this size, it can be readily seen that the number of crew on large aircraft would be limited. To give the RCAF full functional aircrew, all non-pilot aircrew had to specialize in both radio and navigation.

With this in mind, the training of the first radio ops/navigators began at Clinton Ontario in September 1946. The second course, composed of veteran officers, remustered from aircrew trades declared redundant at the war's end, began training a year later. The graduation parade for this course in May 1948 saw an event unique in the history of the RCAF and Commonwealth Air Forces. For it was in this parade that the graduating radio officers received the first double wings to be worn by aircrew other than pilots.

World events during. the next two years dictated the need for an expanded RCAF and precluded the possibility  of training all non-pilot air crew in radio and navigation. The need for increasing numbers of aircrew radio specialists caused the establishment of a separate branch of aircrew known as Radio Officers. The school for training then was set up as a separate training establishment -  No. 1 Air Radio Officers School, Clinton, Ontario. The school turned out enough Radio Officers to meet the requirements of the RCAF.

END OF SERVICE

By 1955, the Lancaster era came to an end in the East Coast operational squadrons once delivery of their replacements began. The first of the Greenwood Lancs was dispatched to Amherst, Nova Scotia on June 24, 1955 where it and its stable mates were scheduled to be cannibalized or scrapped.  No. 404 Squadron had disposed of theirs by the end of September, and 405 had sent off their aircraft two months later. Nonetheless, the type continued to soldier on in Maritime Air Command. They remained in use with the OTU at Summerside and with Comox-based 407 Squadron until April and May 1959, respectively. Lancasters were completely replaced by the Neptune P2V7.

TODAY

There are 17 known Avro Lancasters remaining in the world, two of which are in airworthy condition. Although limited flying hours remain on their airframes, actual flying is carefully rationed. One is PA474 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the other is FM213 belonging to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and restored as "VR-A," the "Mynarski Memorial Lancaster" in honour of the Canadian Victoria Cross winner, Andrew Mynarski.

There are only three surviving Lancasters (all non-flying) that actually saw operational service in the Bomber Command campaign over Europe. During the war, Lancasters carried out a total of 156,000 missions and dropped 608,612 tons of bombs. In the four years of combat service, 3,249 Lancasters were lost in action and another 487 were destroyed or damaged while on the ground. Only 24 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful missions.
 

ADDITIONAL LANCASTER INFORMATION
10 MR and MP Description of the Electronics Suite
10 MR and MP Crew Positions
10 MR and MP Armament
10N, 10P Electronics and Crew Positions
Other Photos
You Tube Video Clip of Lancaster Taxi Run
You Tube Video Clip of Lancaster Takeoff
Bomber Command Museum of  Canada  [5]
FOOTNOTES:

[1] From Patrick Martin's “Royal Canadian Air Force Aircraft Finish and Markings 1947-1969” (with John Griffin), Page 186
[2] Per the Lancaster FM104 restoration team .
[3] Gerald (Duke) Dawe was a Lancaster Flight Engineer. He reports that "it was *not* the norm to have the 400  gallon auxiliary fuel tank installed on the 10MR/MP . An auxiliary tank was only fitted for certain missions.
Examples: Arctic patrols; Met flights out over the Pacific collecting radiation samples of Russian nuclear tests;
for a long range, over the Pacific flight when the Queen Mother visited Hawaii;  when I took FM159 flew to Ireland for so personnel could attend a JASS course. There was even a flight that had  two tanks installed. The 10P had 400 gal tank not 300 in the bomb bay."
[4] Per Gerald (Duke) Dawe
[5] Formerly known as the Nanton Lancaster Society.
 


Credits and References:

1) Leo Pettipas <lpettip(at)mts.net> Associate Air Force Historian. Air Force Heritage and History 1 Canadian Air Division.
Winnipeg, Manitoba.
2) White paper "Early Cold War Anti-Submarine Warfare Development in Canada" by Leo Pettipas.
3) John Phillips <johnph(at)xplornet.com>
4) http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/lanccanadian.html
5) Extract from Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Molson and Taylor.
6) Lanc variants:  http://rcaf.com/aircraft/patrol/lancasterx/index.php
7) Mac's Naval Photography http://macsnavylinks.ca/whatsnew.html
8) Greenwood Aviation Museum   http://gmam.ca/lancaster.htm
9) Lancaster Engineering Manual EO 05-25A-2  dated 30 August 1957
10) Lancaster FM104 Restoration Team   http://www.lancasterfm104.com/history.html
11) Duke Dawe <dukegm(at)shaw.ca>
12) http://askville.amazon.com/England-Avro-Lancasters-World-War-II/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=1268722
13) Canada's Air Forces at War and Peace Vol.3 by Larry Milberry
14) Herb Smale , Greenwood Aviation Museum. < hsmale(at)ns.sympatico.ca>
15) Canadian Military Journal Vol 9 No. 1: Canada's Arctic Sky Spies: The Director's Cut  by Sean Maloney
 

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Sept 6/10