Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bomber Crew: Then & Now

An image of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster crew taken by Paul B shows the flight engineer and navigator working (closer to the camera) with the two pilots above and ahead.

Two things. Firstly the Flight's Lancaster isn't configured as the W.W.II Lancasters were - the wartime examples flew as one pilot (on the left) and with a flight engineer on the right on a not-permanently-fitted jump seat, and with the navigator further aft in a screened off compartment.

Secondly I was immediately reminded of a wartime painting: "Take Off: Interior of a Bomber Aircraft" by Dame Laura Knight, official war artist.

Because of the Flight's reconfiguration of the cockpit area for modern use, there's a remarkable similarity to the crew in Knight's painting - even though the crew in that are aboard the (now-extinct) Short Stirling heavy bomber, the only one of the RAF's three heavies two have a two pilot cockpit. It is interesting how, though different, the crew's positions echo their counterpart's. (For accuracy - in Knight's painting the nearest figure is actually the radio operator, not the flight engineer as in the Flight's image.)

Lancaster from the BBMF's Facebook page here. Details of Knight's painting in the IWM collection here.

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