Hamilton’s Lancaster bomber could be up in the British skies again by Wednesday, days after being grounded when an engine broke down, a spokesman for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum said.
“The plane is still broken, but it’s almost ready,” said Al Mickeloff, the museum’s marketing manager who is travelling with the Second World War bomber on its tour of British airshows.
The National | The Lancaster Bomber: D-Day's workhorse
The plane has been grounded since Friday, when one of its four engines shut down during a flight near at the Durham Tees Airport in northern England.
On Tuesday, a new engine provided by a British company was attached to the Lancaster and its propellers were set to be installed next. If it passes a ground test, the plane could be back in the air on Wednesday.
Mickeloff said he’s been “overwhelmed” by the support from British aviation groups and regular citizens.
Not only were two replacement engines offered up for the Lancaster, but the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum had to alter its website so scores of donations in British pounds could pour in.
The funds will go toward the costs of repairing the broken engine and to make up for the loss of revenue after the Lancaster missed several airshows last weekend, Mickeloff said.
When asked why British audiences were so passionate about seeing the Lancaster fly, especially alongside another Lanc maintained in the U.K., Mickeloff said it’s all about a tangible connection to history.
“They appreciate history even more so than Canada,” he said, adding everything stops at the airshows when the planes fly over.
“This is the place that was fighting off being invaded. Canada didn’t have that. And the Lancaster was so significant in saving England from Germany,” Mickeloff said.
“There’s a lot of emotions.”
Engine that failed was oldest on plane
Mickeloff said the plane was never at risk of going down and that the engine was shut down as a precaution. An image of the Lancaster with smoke streaming along the plane’s fuselage looks worse than it really was, he said, as much of the smoke came from shutting the engine off in the air before it could properly cool.
The engine that failed — the plane’s mechanics call it Engine No. 4 — was the oldest engine on the airplane and the next one scheduled for a mandatory rebuild, Mickeloff said.
For now, the plane’s crew has focused on installing the new engine rather than figuring out what went wrong with No. 4.
All of the plane’s engines have been replaced several times over the years, Mickeloff said.