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SMITH MK II - AVRO LANCASTER

THE CLOCK.

The movement of this clock is the same signed by Jaeger LeCoultre in his 201 model, the A-11 by Jaeger, it was also used by Spitfires.

I don´t know why is not marked, possibly is was made by Smith during the war, in the dial can be read, SMITH AND SONS (MA) LTD LONDON, and SWISS MADE too , but the movement have not marks.

It has 7 jewels, it is winded by swinging around the bezel, it has power for 8 days. It gives you the time and the duration of the flight, choosing with the red dummy hands of the glass the time of take off. This never fails.

Movement marked Le Coultre (model 201) and MK II

 

THE PLANE

The Lancaster was the most significant English bomber. It was better than the rest at range, speed, operative roof, and ease to be constructed and repaired. Over 7,000 were constructed.

However, the biggest advantage respect the other bombers of that period was the big size of the bomb bay uninterrupted through the fuselage. With small modifications it could carry one single bomb, the biggest in the II World War, called Grand Slam, and nicknamed earthquake bomb.

Designed to damage underground fortifications, this incredible bomb went faster than the speed of sound in its free fall, and, before exploding, it would sink into the ground, causing much more damage. It weighed 9979 kg. To be able to carry it, planes would have to get taken off all their weaponry, as well as both back cannons.

The plane had a system that let it take photographs of the explosion of the bombs to be able to see the effectiveness. To do that, once they had dropped the bombs the planes had to continue flying straight and leveled during a time, depending on the height of the launch. For example, at 25000 feet (almost 8 km), planes had to wait 40 seconds until the bombs reached the floor and the photograph device acted, then they could turn and head home.

The basic crew was 7. After 30 missions, they would rest and be sent to other units or become school instructors. The Avro was designed for two pilots, but it was made for one right before starting the operations. Next to the pilot sat the mechanic in a folding seat. Behind and in the opposite direction, sat the navigator, separated by a curtain as shown in the picture.

 

THE COCKPIT

The Lancaster cockpit was the standard one for instrument flight in the RAF, something that made easier the change between school planes from the RAF and the Lancaster.

The controls of the motors of the landing gear were well situated and were easy to use. The cockpit was well conditioned in terms of temperature and comfort. The visibility was excellent even through a bubble backwards.

The only problem was the flap indicator (instrument situated right of the clock in the picture of the beginning), couldn´t be seen by the pilot if the motor levers were frontwards, but it could be seen by the mechanic, who was the one that operated it. Many pilots preferred to manage the flap themselves to coordinate better the untrimmed produced when the flaps was moved.

 

RHUR´S   DAM   BOMBING

The most ambitious attempt to stop the industrial activity of the Ruhr was made by this bomber. It was something risky and with a low probability of success. The 617 squadron of the RAF, famous for having sunk the Tirpitz was the one chosen, managed by one of the most prestigious bombing pilots of the RAF, wing commander, Guy Gibson.

The crews had to be trained in closed formation flights at low altitude during night to evade the radar, and also do it with great precision due to the small target that they preys offered. The idea of the bombing was from the doctor Barnes Wallis imitating the flat stones thrown against the surface of the water that advance by jumps. Wallis refined this idea and constructed a prototype cylinder bomb that, following his calculations, if it were thrown with convenient speed, height, and distance, it would move bouncing against the water evading the anti-torpedo networks. It would then crash with the wall of the dam and sink to a depth of 9 meters, where a hydrostatic device would make it explode. For this they thought to put two foci on the planes whose circles of light on the water would only be tangents when the plane was at the correct distance (370 meters) of the dam and at the exact height (19 meters) to launch the bombs.

The date chosen was the 16th and 17th of May, in which the necessary conditions were given: full moon to make it easier to fly at low heights and a high level of water in the dams produced by the thaw. 50 Wallis´ bombs and 20 Avro modified were gathered in Scampton´s aerodrome. Out of the 5 dams established as targets, 2 were destroyed and 1 was lowly damaged. 8 planes were lost in the mission, 6 on the trip and 2 on the targets. The valleys that protected the dams were flooded. The catastrophe wasn´t mentioned to the German society. The remains of the explosion in the dam of Möhne can still be seen nowadays.

 

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