Friday, June 7, 2019

Bomber Command Museum, Nanton, Alberta

Since today is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy, this seems to fit right in. I spent two weeks in Alberta, visiting my son, my sister and a bunch of friends and relatives I had not seen for years. One of the days, my son took off work and we went to Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, about an hour south of Calgary.

The Avro Lancaster on display does not fly but the engines run.  My son was there two years ago when they fired them up. The first part of the museum is made up of posters describing various bombers, various bombing runs including the dam busters, various pilots and crew, etc.  There are several examples of radios, bomb sights, and navigation equipment, uniforms, etc.

The main part of the museum has as its centre-piece a Lancaster from the Dam Buster squadron. The top gun turret is removed as are the bomb bay doors. There is also a front end of a Lanc from a movie set that one can crawl into, which I did. They were not meant for guys my size, I can tell you that, though the last chapter of "Only the Stars Know" by DA MacMillan tells the story of a Moose Jaw farm boy they nicknamed Jumbo.  The only position he could fit on a Lanc was pilot.

The first two pictures are from the museum website, the rest are my own.  I could not get back far enough from the bomber to get a good front view.





Lanc bell with bomb bay doors removed

Looking backward from the front of bomb bay towards dambuster bomb

Tail gunner position

Tall Boy bunker buster bomb
Cheeta IX powered the Avro Anson

Curtiss Wright R2600 powered the B25 Mitchell

Cutaway view of the mighty Merlin

the Merlin engine powered the Spitfire and the Lanc 
The posters about bombing raids talked about the "sad inevitability of civilian deaths", referred to as collateral damage. In the main, this was true as the raids were supposedly intended for military targets. However, there were three raids that were not mentioned: Hamberg, Cologne, and Dresden. These were firebombing raids that deliberately targeted civilians, killing tens of thousands. There should have been posters acknowledging the raids with whatever rationale was given at the time. Then people can make up their own minds.

13 comments:

  1. I did not know there was a Bomber Command Museum here in Alberta. I'll have to check it out some day.

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    1. It is worth an afternoon. On certain days, they fire up engines on some of the planes.

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  2. There used to be a Lancaster bomber on a huge pedestal in a lakefront park here in Toronto when I first came to live here. It has disappeared now and I wonder where it is. I hope it has been preserved somewhere. The only flying Lanc is at the Canadian Warplane Museum at mount Hope, Hamilton, just down the road from Toronto. It flies regularly and I'd love to have a flight in it, but apparently it costs $3,600 per seat, a bit out of my range.
    https://www.warplane.com/aircraft/collection/details.aspx?aircraftId=4

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    1. Apparently the Lanc that was displayed on Toronto's waterfront has been sent to the British Columbia Aviation Museum.
      https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/toronto-lancaster-headed-west

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    2. OOOPS it's not in BC yet....
      https://www.skiesmag.com/news/b-c-aviation-museum-favoured-to-receive-toronto-lancaster/

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    3. vintage aircraft, like vintage cars: great
      the Ol'Buzzard

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    4. That Lanc was in Regina a few years back. I was away so did not see it. I'd love a ride in it but not at that price.

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  3. It's hair-raising to see those machines up close, isn't it? and know that people actually went up in them over and over again. I've read that in case of a hit, the death of the tail-gunner was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Now I don't remember whether that was because they couldn't exit easily or because the space was too small for them to wear a parachute. And yet they went up, again and again. The courage of folks during the war is astounding.

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    1. I worked with a man who flew Lancs. He described how they would take off at night and circle in the dark while squadrons from other airbases formed up. then they flew south, then east across the Pyrenees, then north along the Alps, then headed for their target, dropped their bombs and made a beeline for home, dodging flak and night fighters all the way. Scary to think of

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