History

Epic task of restoring WW2 Lancaster to flight

In the last years of the Second World War, it was the heavy bomber used to take the war to the heartland of Nazi Germany.

A 10-year project at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is under way to return a Second World War Lancaster bomber – named 'Just Jane' – to flight.

The Lancaster was one of the most versatile bombers of the Second World War and brought about a change in Bomber Command's tactics and success.

'Just Jane' first arrived at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in 1988 and restoring her to flight is the biggest project the museum has ever undertaken.

In the family-run centre, the aircraft is more a family member than a museum exhibit, according to Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre general manager and resident Lancaster taxi pilot Andrew Panton.

"I was one when the aircraft came here on trailers into the museum here," he said. "So, I've known nothing but the museum and the Lancaster, it is my life really."

Mr Panton added: "There's that saying of how do you eat an elephant – it's a bite at a time. If we look at the project as a whole it looks like a massive undertaking and a big deal.

"But actually when you break it down into pieces, it's quite easily done really."

Mr Panton highlights that it is a "fairly standard, simple" aircraft but "it's just very big".

Restoring 'Just Jane' to flight will take many years, and this left the museum with a problem. 

During the summer months, she earns her keep by taxiing tourists up and down the runway, with the revenue funding her restoration, so she could not just be taken out of action for years during restoration.

Instead, they began contacting aviation museums around the world, asking for Lancaster donor parts.

A contact in France provided them with some old wings and a crushed rear fuselage came from Yorkshire.

Bit by bit, they are fixing the donated parts, switching them onto 'Just Jane' so she can still operate, then restoring her original parts and then swapping them back.

Eventually, she will be fully restored without missing a season.

Her journey can be followed via Andrew Panton's Instagram where he posts updates on the restoration.