A restored Lancaster bomber in Nanton, Alta., is one of only four in the world with working engines.

The plane was bought by locals in 1960 for $500 and volunteer engineers have offered their time over the last decade to help restore the aircraft's four engines to working order. The final engine will be officially fired up at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton Friday.

"It brings back memories," said Bill Hume, who served as a tail gunner on a Lancaster during the air war over Europe in the Second World War. "It was sometimes cold and lonely for 10, 12 hours."

While Nanton's plane will never be airworthy, those involved in restoring the engines say that doesn't matter.

As people show up to listen to its engines, museum organizers say they hope it will be an opportunity to learn about the aircraft's history.

Bombers were Britain's 'salvation'

Lancaster heavy bombers were first flown in 1942 as Britain fought increasing isolation during the war.

Vital supplies were being cut off by German submarines and British cities and industry were under heavy air attacks by German forces. 

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill threw his full support behind development of the plane in 1940 as a way to take back control of the war.

"The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it. Therefore, our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the air," he said at the time. "The Fighters are our salvation but the Bombers alone provide the means of victory."

More than 400 Lancaster bombers were built in Canada during the war and continued to be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force in photographic and marine reconnaissance roles until the 1960s.

Canada is home to 11 of the world's 23 remaining Lancaster Bombers.

There are only two in the world that are still airworthy.

One is in the UK, owned by the Royal Air Force, and the other is in Hamilton, Ont., owned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.