Why A Lancaster Bomber Weathervane Has Enduring Appeal

If you want a weathervane made and installed, there are many crafty and iconic shapes you could choose - but few could stand out more clearly than a Lancaster Bomber.

Many years have passed since the Lancaster last flew in action. Indeed, ITV News reported this week on the tale of 99-year-old former flight engineer Ray Parke, who survived over 40 wartime missions, and got to ride in a Lancaster one more time.

He sat in the fuselage while the (currently) grounded plane taxied as part of a birthday treat arranged by a journalism student Finn Brown, who is making a documentary about the veteran as part of his university dissertation.

Mr Brown said the ride brought things “full circle” for Ray, who due to new safety regulations set to be introduced will be the last of the now elderly men who flew in action to ride in the Lancaster.

The attraction of stories is partly about the last possessors of a living memory of these aircraft, but also the planes themselves. Seen at airshows alongside the Spitfire and Hurricane in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Lancasters are an icon of the skies, although their most famous mission was the 1943 Dambusters raid.

With only two Lancasters still flying, it is still a relatively rare sight to see, making airshows that feature them a special event.

No doubt this will remain the case even when there are no longer any wartime veterans left and the generation that lived through those years has passed on, but the aircraft will still have its place in history and be recognised by much younger folk who may not have seen it in combat, but will know the history.

These elements will make a Lancaster-themed weathervane an iconic addition to your home, but while the form of the Lancaster Bomber is a very familiar one, many people do not know this most successful of military aircraft emerged from a notorious failure.

Before the Lancaster emerged its makers, Avro, created the Manchester Bomber. It had the same length and (eventually) wingspan, but one critical difference; it had just two engines. This was the idea of the Air Ministry, which wanted a twin-engine monoplane bomber to replace the existing ones the RAF had in the 1930s, like the Wellington and Hampden.

Unfortunately, the 24-cylinder Rolls Royce Vulture engines proved to be a multiple failure, delivering less power than promised. This was just one of a series of technical faults that initially led to more aircraft being lost to mechanical failure than enemy action.

With Rolls-Royce focused on the Merlin engines powering the Spitfire and Hurricane, nothing was done to fix the floundering Vultures. Matters came to a head when the entire fleet was grounded in April 1941 due to obvious engine failings, a situation that repeated itself twice in June.

Avro’s chief designer Roy Chadwick devised a solution: A redesigned Manchester with longer wings to accommodate four Merlin engines. Initially, this would be called the Manchester Mk 3, but was soon renamed the Lancaster.

The rest is aviation history, with the Lancaster replacing the Manchester over the course of 1942.

If you want a Lancaster weathervane, you will be showing off the image of the most famous bomber the RAF ever put in the air. Suffice to say, nobody ever asks for a Manchester theme.