In 1958, three Aeronavale Lancasters from 25F dropped into Durban in South Africa to refuel after a flight from Madagascar. Based at Lann-Bihoue in Brittany, France, they were a long way from home. Amongst the three was WU15 ‘7’, which is today preserved in the UK.
After its arrival at Biggin Hill, Lancaster VII G-ASXX was given an overhaul 1965-1967 and was painted in World War Two colours and given the name Guy Gibson, while maintaining the Surfers Paradise logo for a time. The bomb tallies recorded the type’s many exploits.
Among the three Durban visitors in 1958 was Mk I WU28 (formerly TW648), coded ‘28’. Delivered to the Aeronavale on November 28, 1952, this was probably the last major sortie for the aircraft, as she was struck off charge in December 1958.
After its extensive restoration by volunteers at Scampton, NX611 was placed on the gate in 1974, complete with examples of the Lane’s formidable weaponry.
NX611 at East Kirkby with three engines running in her 50th anniversary year, 1995. The nose-art, Just Jane, relates to 57 Squadron, who were resident at the airfield.
A view of all three 25F Lancs on the ramp at Durban, 1958. The unit re-equipped with Lockheed Neptunes that year.
Lancaster VII NX611 is now the pride of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby. It owes its survival to the longevity of service the French navy allowed the type.
Mk VII WU01 at Luqa, Malta, in 1954. Transferred to the Aeronavale in early December 1951, it served initially from St Eval during the ‘work up’ period. It was destroyed in a landing accident in April 1955.
NX611/WU15 at Biggin Hill during the summer of 1965, showing the overall white tropical scheme adopted following overhaul by UTA in 1962. The civil registration was carried on both fins, under wing to port and over wing to starboard.
To keep the dwindling fleet going, contractors Union de Transport Aerien stripped several Lancasters for spares at Le Bourget and the hulks ended up on the fire dump. Two examples await their fate, 1965