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Avro Manchester: The Legend Behind The Lancaster

This is the story of the unsuccessful twin-engined Manchester, which was the forerunner to the Lancaster.

The unsuccessful twin-engined Manchester was the forerunner to the "war-winning" Lancaster, though the path between was tortuous. Only Manchesters used the infamous Rolls-Royce Vulture, effectively an engine test-bed, operationally. The history is an amalgam of airframe & engine development, with enormous technical problems being overcome in both, chronologically-adjacent to personal experience reports of aircrew in action. The front line Manchester era began in November 1940, ending 20 months later in June 1942. From the lowest point in both Bomber Command & Manchester fortunes in August 1941, with the shocking Butt Report, the aircraft just hung on to participate in the earliest 1000 bomber raids, after which Manchesters were relegated to training. Eventually 202 Manchesters, using 538 Vultures, managed 1250 sorties with seven RAF Squadrons. The key to the entire story is the temperamental Vulture engine, without a proper account of which history could not have been written. This was input by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. In response to the question why the RAF persisted with such an unsuitable aircraft, the answer is that it was all they had. On the vexed issue of whether aircrews were ever told the depth of the Vulture’s problems, the categoric answer is - mercifully not!


Dr Rob Kirby | talks


Date and Time:

20 June 2016 at 6:00 pm


1 hour



Royal Aeronautical Society
No.4 Hamilton Place

020 76704345

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Available from:

020 7670 4345

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