VE Day is a chance to remember and give thanks for the enormous effort made by Avro throughout the war. At its peak, Avro’s labour force during the war amounted to 38,644, many of whom were women, and spread across factories nationwide.
The most famous of Avro’s wartime aircraft is of course the ground breaking Lancaster bomber. It was a stroke of genius by Roy Chadwick and his design team to produce the Lancaster in complete sections. As a result, the Lancaster could be mass produced by factories across the country, the completed sections being brought to assembly plants like Woodford for completion.
Of course, Avro’s contribution to the war effort went far beyond the Lancaster. The Anson was perfectly suited as a trainer for heavy bomber crews and 3,957 were built at Yeadon alone. It also played a pivotal role in the Air Transport Auxiliary, ferrying pilots to collect aircraft ready for delivery to RAF bases. Also, when war broke out, the Anson was already in service with Coastal Command and was one of the few aircraft countering the U boat menace.
The sound design of the Lancaster led to a variety of derivatives such as the Avro York, an aircraft which impressed Winston Churchill so much that he placed an order for the VIP variant. Together with the Lancaster and other Avro ‘heavies’, the York brought supplies to those desperately in need following years of Nazi occupation. Years later the York would prove its worth again during the Berlin Air Lift.
As part of our VE Day celebrations, we were hoping to recreate an iconic photo of the iconic Lancaster S Sugar. Many of you will know that we are proudly exhibiting a replica cockpit section of this famous aircraft. S Sugar was the first of only 35 Lancasters to reach the landmark total of 100 operational sorties, a feat it achieved on the night of 11th/12th May 1944. In anticipation of the achievement, ground engineer Ted Willoughby painted ‘100 NOT OUT’ on a cookie bomb and the quote ‘NO ENEMY PLANE WILL FLY OVER THE REICH TERRITORY – HERMAN GOERING’.