Lancaster had no comforts or luxuries for the crew, they had
long tiring cold flights in the confines of the cramped bomber.
All the armour plating that protected the crew from 88mm cannon
attacks was removed, so the bomber could carry greater bomb loads,
a total of 22,000 lbs.
bombs for the next operation. (right)
no room for the crew to wear their parachutes so they had to
be stored close to their position on the bomber, if they were
attacked and the plane
shot to pieces and crashing was imminent, the crew would in
a frantic scramble try to locate their parachutes in the blackness
while searching for the escape hatches... as the massive bomber
hurtled vertically earthwards to its oblivion carrying them all
to certain death if they didn’t bale out… consequently
only 1 in 5 of the aircrew ever escaped from a crashing bomber!!!
lonely rear gunner always on the look out.
|The crew depended on the rear gunner keeping a constant vigil sitting
in the glass blister at the far end of the plane, a very lonely place,
scanning the skies, alert, watching.
When he saw
fighters approaching he would scream to the pilot via the inter-com
to take evasive action as fighters attacked
tearing up the plane with cannon fire, the pilot on command would
throw the great hulk into a “Corkscrew” dive to port
dropping thousands of feet in seconds, then a turn to starboard
and dive dropping, twisting, turning as the bomber strained under
the massive “G Forces” inflicted upon it, he would
fight the controls endeavouring to haul the great heavy bomber
up on its tail desperately trying to shake off the enemy attackers,
it seemed endless for the pilot and crew, all hoping beyond hope
that the fighters had gone and they wouldn’t be shot down.