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The Avro Lancaster

The Avro Lancaster Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review September 2023 Title The Avro Lancaster
Author Richard A. Franks Publisher Valiant Wings Publishing
Published 2023 ISBN 978-1-912932-17-7
Format 272 pages, softcover MSRP (BP) £28.95


Valiant Wings kick-starts a sumptuous, two-part study of Britain’s iconic WWII heavy bomber in The Avro Lancaster: Wartime Service – number 20 in the publisher’s acclaimed “Airframe & Miniature” series.

Billed as “A Complete Guide to the RAF’s Legendary Heavy Bomber”, part 1 spans Lancaster’s “Wartime Service”. And fans of the respected range will fast recognize the familiar format.

Contents commence with prefatory notes charting Lancaster’s genesis from 1936’s somewhat quixotic Air Ministry Specification P13/36, which sired Avro Manchester, Lancaster’s linear predecessor.

Text next traverses six “airframe” chapters on Manchester and Lancaster prototypes, production variants, and camouflage & markings commentary. The last includes dozens of color plates: at least 54 profiles with accompanying plan view and detail insets by Richard J. Caruana. Start planning your group build now!

Subsequent “Miniature” sections include specially commissioned, step-by-step kit builds by Steve A. Evans, available models, scale specs, variant notes, close-up shots, and tech-manual excerpts.

Cross-eyed by the number of Manchester and Lancaster derivatives? Chapter 9 sports at least 34 pages with nearly 100 illuminating isometrics graphically tracing Lancaster evolution. Attentive readers, though, will note the absence of an isometric illustrating Lancaster B Mk III (JB456) sporting a Bristol B.17 upper turret with 20mm canon – hallmark of the future Avro Lincoln.

Four extensive appendices list kits, accessories, decals, and references. And a glossary and pull-out 1:72-scale plans complete contents.

The overall level of detail remains jaw-dropping. But “Just remember,” author Franks wisely cautions, “that nothing is an absolute, and the Lancaster certainly proves that!”

What a magnificent monograph. Pedants can dispute whether any book is really “complete”. But the Valiant Wings’ study of wartime Manchester and Lancaster bombers comes awfully close. And I eagerly await Volume 2.

One nitpick: pre-1948 RAF aircraft “numbering system” employed Roman numerals, not Greek.

Rabidly recommended!

With thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for this review copy.