This picture, taken a couple of years back, of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster over Huntingdon caused a flurry of interest on the Google Earth discussion lists at the time, but I never saw it mentioned elsewhere. The Google Earth database has been updated, so the pic is no longer available online, but we can thank the likes of The Register for preserving it.
For some time Ron Lapp from Winnipeg has been trying to find out the answer to a question of detail about the Dams Raid:
When the Lancaster nose turret guns were fired, as they certainly were on the Dams raid, were the empty cases and links collected somehow, or did they just fall to the floor of the nose and get collected later? I have seen a picture showing the expended cases and links on the bottom of the nose, but I am not sure if this was common practice. I have also read that canvas bags or a flexible sleeve may have been used, but have not seen pictures of either of these possible collection methods. In the case of the Dams raid, with a gunner in the nose turret and the bomb aimer at his position, I would not think that the bomb aimer would want to be distracted by having spent cases and links falling over him during the bomb run.
Fortunately, I knew someone who would have the answer: Fred Sutherland, the front gunner in Les Knight’s aircraft, AJ-N – the aircraft which dropped the mine which broke the Eder Dam. Fred obliged with an almost immediate definitive response:
There were bags under each gun to catch the spent cases. There were several reasons for this. First, each gun fired 20 rounds a second and even with a short burst the empty cases soon built up a great pile.
Then there was at times, the violent evasive action where the empties could get air borne and foul up the works.
In the front turret which was designed for one person they would have showered down on the B/A. After a long burst [of fire] the cases became very hot.
So, there we have it. Another small mystery resolved!
I’ve only just caught up with this article in the Canadian Hamilton Spectator which appeared back in September. On the twentieth anniversary of its restoration, it tells the story of how one of the only two airworthy Lancasters in the world was saved from the scrapheap and brought back into flying condition.
Some splendid video footage and fascinating interviews. The newspaper’s main site also has video footage of the Remembrance Day service held at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Centre.