|Richard A Franks|
|Valiant Wings Publishing|
|£28.95 MSRP at www.valiant-wings.co.uk|
272 pages, A4 Format, softcover,
ISBN: 978-1-912932-17-7. Airframe and Miniature #209
Talk to most RAF WWII enthusiasts about the most important aircraft of the war, and few will not mention the Lancaster. Though the RAF was not lacking in heavy bombers, they really needed one that could carry a variety of weapons. This came down to the design of the bomb bay as much as anything. For this, the Lancaster had a very large and long one that enabled it to carry fairly large bombs. Modifying this area of the plane allowed even larger and more unusual ordnance. This was not the case when it came to the other four engine RAF bombers, the Sterling and the Halifax. It also wasn't the case with the US offerings, the Fortress and Liberator, which by comparison were fairly limited in the sizes they could haul.
The Lancaster was a development of the Manchester, a twin engine plane that was doomed by a fairly unreliable engine, the Rolls Royce Vulture. Despite this lack of reliability and decent power, enough were completed to equip several RAF squadrons, though most were fairly quickly relegated to training and test units. Fortunately for the RAF, there was a reliable engine out there, the Rolls Royce Merlin. By extending the wing span and attaching two of these per wing, the Lancaster was born. The rest is, as they say, history. The Lancaster went on to be the most produced British four engine bomber of the war and was operational well into the post war years. It was also the basis for the larger Lincoln.
This lated book in the Airframe and Miniatures series covers the Manchester and the war time use of the Lancaster. These editions follow a familiar format with a background history, a look at the different variants, the camouflage schemes worn by the aircraft (which includes a lot of full color profiles), and a set of detail drawings of each different variation on the scheme. Since the Lancaster was under constant modification, the author has decided to do the variations section by production block. This actually works out quite well and is very much the way to go with an aircraft such as this one.
In addition to this, you have a fairly complete modelers section which looks at the current crop of kits in all the major scales. This includes some kit reviews and some build articles. In the latter section is a Manchester conversion in 1/72 scale, a 1/72 scale Hasegawa Lancaster I, and for the 1/48 Modeler, an article on the HK Models kit followed by the Tamiya offering. One section I particularly like is the 'building the Lancaster' set of drawings which starts with the Manchester prototype and then proceeds to show every external detail change, no matter how small. A real boon for those who want to get things just right. Then there is a detail section which uses both images from extant airframes as well as a plethora of period photos and drawings from the technical manuals as well as some from extant airframes. Next are listings for all the different kits ever done on the Lancater, which is considerable. This is also true of decals, accessory sets, and books. The last pages of the book are 1/48 plans for several versions in a huge multi-page fold-out.
Overall, this makes this THE book to have on the Lancaster. The amount of information is incredible. It is one of my favorite book series. It is a book for which I can easily provide my highest recommendation.
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