Canadian Lancaster Repainted

  • Feb 8, 2016 6:07am GMT

This summer only, from June 18 to August 31, The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Lancaster FM213, also known as VeRA, KB726, or the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster, will be painted and flown in the temporary markings of Lady Orchid, Lancaster KB895, WL-O.

The temporary markings will only be applied to the port side of the aircraft at the Hamilton, Ontario museum and the usual VR-A, KB726 markings will remain on the starboard side.

With only 10.5 hours of flying on the airframe, the museum's Lancaster was heavily damaged when the undercarriage collapsed at Trenton, Ontario during a 1952 ferry flight. The centre section had to be replaced.

One was located in Penhold, Alberta, from Lancaster KB895, a wartime veteran of 434 RCAF Squadron with 35 operations and known as Lady Orchid. (see photos below video) After repairs were completed, the museum's Lanc could be considered a hybrid - part FM213 and part KB895.

Lady Orchid flew her last mission on 25th April piloted by F/O Bonar to Wangerooge. Other members of this crew; F/O H.G. Hall, F/O W.T. Perry, F/Sgt. A.E. Sully, F/Sgt. R.G. Smith, Sgt. J. Noonan, and Sgt. L.P. Churchill.

According to squadron historian Clarence Simonsen, "On 7 June 45, No. 434 Squadron left Croft, England, for the transatlantic flight to Canada, and for the return, two red Maple Leafs, were painted over the breasts of Lady Orchid. On 17 June, Lady Orchid and crew landed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and 37 days leave. Lady Orchid (KB895) remained in service with No. 2 Air Command from 11 September 45 to 22 January 1947. Struck off charge by the RCAF the aircraft was flown to Penhold, Alberta, by F/L H. Buocher and turned over to War Assets. On 12 April 1947, Ron Jenkins arranged for War Assets to reserve his old bomber for him, which he purchased for two hundred and thirty dollars. Ron then ordered each station point in the bomber removed, which he mailed to each of his old crew members." Clarence has written a great piece on the history of this and other Lancs after the war at this LINK.

This is the second time the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum has changed paint on their Lancaster. Two years ago it was changed to represent KB722 VR-R 'Ropey' of 419 Squadron RCAF. (see photo below)

The original 'Ropey' was considered by many to be one of the most colourful of all RCAF Lancaster paint schemes, having each of its four engine cowlings painted with the "Flying Tiger" style shark mouth markings usually associated with fighter aircraft.

KB722 reputedly earned its Ropey nickname because it allegedly suffered many technical snags, leading to its reputation for being somewhat unreliable. Nevertheless it completed at least 66 sorties including 419 Squadron's last operation on April 25, 1945, against the enemy defences on Wangerooge, one of the Frisian Islands off Germany.