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Iconic Lancaster marks 80 years in the sky



Aircraft Bomber Command Memorial

For many it's the sound as well as the sight of an Avro Lancaster which makes her such a unique aircraft. Today marks 80 years since Roy Chadwick's invention took its first flight. The four-engined night bomber went on to take part in some of the most famous operations during the Second World War including the Dambusters raid.

Former Warrant Officer Jack Watson, now 96, completed more than 600 hours flying in Lancaster bombers during the conflict, 400 of them undertaking operational duties.

He said: "When I arrived at St Athan to do my training there were using all four bombers, the Stirling, the Halifax, the Sunderland and the Lancaster. I am so glad I was on Lancaster, although it was more difficult to get out of than the Halifax. Everything was so cramped inside – it was all about the size of the bomb."

As a flight engineer, Jack sat at the front of the aircraft next to the pilot. During take-off he would start the engines, starboard first, then port, then starboard outer and port outer.

Jack added: "I was very fond of the Lancaster, especially the sound of the engines. It really was a marvellous aircraft. The sight and sounds of it were iconic."

Jack completed 77 operations with the Pathfinder Force in Bomber Command, completing the dangerous task of lighting the targets for bomb crews to attack. He has been supported by the RAF Benevolent Fund when he could no longer manage with his old kitchen. To help him to continue living in his own home, the Fund refurbished his kitchen including an eye-level oven which meant he no longer had to bend to reach it.