The Avro Lincoln at RAF Cosford

During a recent visit to the museum at RAF Cosford, I was able, as a confirmed fan of the Avro Lancaster, to view its successor, the Avro Lincoln:

cosford c xxxxxxxxxxx

The Avro Lincoln flew for the first time in June 1944, just a few days after the Normandy landings. The first examples of the new bomber were actually called the Lancaster Mark IV and the Lancaster Mark V, but they were eventually rechristened the Lincoln Mark I and the Lincoln Mark II. The new aircraft was the last bomber in the RAF with good old-fashioned piston engines and proper propellers:


The theory was that the Lincoln would be used in “Tiger Force”, Bomber Command’s contribution to a potentially catastrophic invasion of Japan in 1946. The bombers would have acted, presumably, as the RAF’s equivalent of the B-29 Superfortress or the much less well known Consolidated B-32 Dominator. Here is a B-29, “Fifi”, sadly the only example left flying from the 3,790 constructed:

fifi xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This is the little known B-32, the aircraft which actually flew the last combat mission of World War 2. Only 1156 of these bombers were ever built:


At the time of “Tiger Force”, my Dad had already had all his medical injections for this next phase of the war, and the squadron’s Lancasters were all being crated up to be transported out to the Far East. Then suddenly, the Americans dropped their two atomic bombs and the war finally came to an end.
The Lincoln was certainly an improvement on the Lancaster, but the performance figures given in Wikipedia are not particularly startling, with bomb loads, aircraft size and speeds all roughly similar.  Here is the capacious bomb bay:

cosford b xxxxxxxx

The range of the Lincoln was greater than its predecessor, and the maximum speed was an improvement, with the aircraft able to cruise happily at 215 mph.  Similarly, the service ceiling and the rate of climb were better than the Lancaster.
Eventually, more than six hundred Lincolns were to be manufactured, with a further 73 in Australia where it was the largest aircraft ever to be built there.

This photograph comes from a splendid Australian website where you can learn, more or less, to fly a Lincoln, especially the long nosed version, the Mark 31. Every single one also contains two or three  of the author’s laugh-out-loud feelings about life. My favourite one is:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”


australian mark 31
Just one single Avro Lincoln was constructed in Canada. Here it is:

canadian _Lincoln_ExCC

With the RAF, the Lincoln was used in the 1950s to oppose the Mau Mau terrorists/freedom fighters in Kenya. You can read the story for yourself, but I do love the British evaluation of the Mau Mau by Dr. John Colin Carothers as

“an irrational force of evil, dominated by bestial impulses and influenced by world communism”

I also enjoyed the description of the traitorous Africans who continued to support the nasty British as:

“the running dogs of British Imperialism”

Very Mao Tse-Tung. And here is the Great Man, ordering five beers:

The Avro Lincoln was also employed against terrorists/freedom fighters who operated in Malaya (now Malaysia). They too were influenced by world communism, although they were unable to import any running dogs of British Imperialism because of the rather strict customs regulations in force at the time.

All of that history is fairly predictable, except for the sad story of the single Avro Lincoln (RF531 “C”) which was shot down by the Soviet Air Force.  The bomber was attacked by a MiG-15 fighter on its way to Berlin on March 12th 1953. This is a MiG-15:

mig15takeoff05 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Lincoln was being flown by members of the Central Gunnery School at Leconfield in Yorkshire, and all seven of the crew were killed. The whole very sad, rather ghastly tale, is told on the Spyflight website. What a sad, sick waste of young men’s lives that was. There was just no need for it.

A lot further south, the use of the Avro Lincoln by the Argentine Air Force, the Fuerza Aérea Argentina is quite interesting:

Avroaregenrtine 2Lincoln_B-010_0084_2006-0

These Lincolns (and indeed, Lancasters) were initially employed by the I Grupo de Bombardeo to bomb the rebels, during a military coup in September 1951.  Four years later, the British aircraft were obviously highly thought of, because, in what seems to have been another rather over-vigorous political argument, they were used by the government to bomb the rebels, and by the rebels to bomb the government. Here is the paint scheme of the rebels, apparently influenced, if only slightly, by world communism:

rebel lincoln

This was, of course, the Revolución Libertadora which ousted Juan Peron and his wife Madonna.

(“She plays Evita with a poignant weariness and has more than just a bit of star quality. Love or hate Madonna-Eva, she is a magnet for all eyes.”)

Some things I just cannot resist. Nobody could:

One interesting feature about these ageing South American bombers was that both the Lancasters and the Lincolns in Argentina were serviced, and kept viable, for many, many, years, by ex-Luftwaffe engineers.  For some unknown reason, they had all decided to leave the Fatherland in 1945 to live out the rest of their sad lives in South America:

lincoln argentine

I was fascinated to read as well that Avro Lincolns were used to support the Argentinian bases in the Antarctic. One aircraft therefore, was flown back to Avro in England. Engineers there added a civilian nose and tail, removed all armament, and put in generous extra fuel tanks. Registered as a civil airliner called the Cruz del Sur, the aircraft dropped supplies to the Antarctic San Martín Base from December 1951 onwards:

crfuz del sud
Sixty or so years later, the Argentinians still have two Avro Lincolns preserved. You have already seen two photographs of one of them. Here is another:

argen best picture

The Australians have one of their Lincolns in storage for restoration in the future, and there is also the aircraft that we all saw at RAF Cosford, with its rather disconcerting blue bosses to the propellers:

cosford a xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And, as far as I know, that’s it! What a wonderful regard we have for preserving RAF aircraft. Are we embarrassed that we were ever forced to use them in anger?


Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History

38 responses to “The Avro Lincoln at RAF Cosford

  1. Pierre Lagacé

    Such humour John.
    Such research!

    Can’t get enough of Evita.
    I have Andrew Lloyd Webber’s opera CD.


    • Thanks very much Pierre. Coming from such an expert on research, it is a compliment indeed. My daughter is absolutely mad on “The Phantom of the Opera”, so I have little room to criticise your taste in music!

  2. One detail which I would have put in the article, had I but known, was the fact that the Cosford Avro LIncoln is well known as a haunted aircraft. By whom, or perhaps, what, I do not know. We did not notice anything on our visit.

    • Michael Hicklin

      The “haunting” was a fabrication. If you look at You Tube with the request “haunted bomber” you will see an episode of the Michael Aspel programme entitled “Strange but True?”. It is explained that the museum had been in danger of losing the Lincoln to the Industrial Museum in Manchester so the “haunting” and the stories relating to it were concocted by the Museum itself in a bid to hang on to the artefact. The story had then been pounced on by an individual who garnered a lot of publicity for himself with his supposed tape recordings of paranormal events within the aircraft.. A group of academics from Wolverhampton conducted a thorough investigation over several weeks and found nothing anomalous at all. In spite of this, the BBC produced a Radio 4 programme supporting the “haunting” and when several people told them they were being fooled they threatened to sue for defamation! They and the individual with the tapes were all left with egg on their faces when the Aspel documentary was aired.

      • Thanks very much for this. I have a sneaking feeling that many stories of this type are based on one person’s lies which are then seized upon and somehow inflated into truth. I suppose that we all wish there was a real ghost in the plane or indeed, a real monster in the loch. Once again, thank you for your interest and for your contribution.

  3. Interesting post. I never knew much about the Lincoln.

    • Thanks very much for dropping by. The Lincoln is not really a major landmark in the history of warplanes, but it’s always interesting to anybody who enjoys the Lancaster.

  4. I had no idea about the Avro Lincoln even though I live in Lincolnshire.
    I suspect Mao is ordering rice wine (red of course).

  5. atcDave

    Terrific and entertaining post. Well, apart from the horrific images of Madonna.
    I believe Adolf Galland was in charge of Peron’s Air Force, at least for a while. So he had Lancasters, Lincolns and Meteors under his command. Talk about an odd career twist…

    • Pierre Lagacé

      This is not Madonna but an actress.
      Well this is what I think.

      • atcDave

        You’re right, my bad.

      • Pierre Lagacé

        It’s John’s mistake. I was just curious because she did not look like Madonna.

      • Pierre Lagacé

        I won’t change his grade.

      • Pierre Lagacé

        This was, of course, the Revolución Libertadora which ousted Juan Peron and his wife Madonna.
        (“She plays Evita with a poignant weariness and has more than just a bit of star quality. Love or hate Madonna-Eva, she is a magnet for all eyes.”)
        Some things I just cannot resist. Nobody could:

    • I didn’t realise that peculiar fact about Peron. Thanks for the info. The next step for you, of course, is to find a kit of an Avro Lincoln and then to start making it in some bizarre South American paint scheme! Thanks a lot for your interest, by the way, and above all, for your very kind words.

  6. A very interesting post with some great links. Thank you.

  7. The Lincon just came too late, its potential was great but it never really had a chance to
    Prove it. Odd that the Argentinians government and rebels used it. Was it painted different markings on each side so it could be used in that Manner I wonder? Takes lend-lease to a new level!

  8. Again your humor leaves my spirit lifted, John. You are such a great story teller!! I really enjoy reading what you write. LOL You are something!! ❤

  9. Pierre Lagacé

    One quick note
    Mr Corbeil had volunteered for the Tiger Force.
    I will tell you how come he did not go after all.
    Not the Japanese…

    Another note

    He got your thank you card.

    • That’s excellent news. I hope he spotted the “alouettes” on it! This species may not occur in Canada, but I’m sure he will have seen a few in Yorkshire all those years ago.

  10. Tony Wilkins

    Good Lord the Mk.31 was grotesque.

    I do have a soft spot for the Lincoln. I really like that nose arrangement. Argie use was really fascinating to read; Nazi engineers!

    Did you see the ghost haunting Cosford’s Lincoln? He is usually in the upper gun turret

  11. Pingback: The Mosquito at Cosford | John Knifton

  12. Peter McNamara

    I flew in the Cosford Lincoln on one of it’s last flights from RAF Watton in 1963/4. Went to visit it in 1999 and had a sit in the cockpit again. So many years in between but I was still in the Air Force after 40 years. Great article thank you.

    • My pleasure. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I’m glad it brought back some memories for you. I get a fair number of replies from my blog posts and I don’t think anybody has ever had a bad word to say about the RAF. And you could certainly add my Dad to the list!

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