"G for George" - Avro Lancaster Mk 1, serial W4783 [AR-G]
The Avro Lancaster was one of the most effective bombers of the Second World War. It possessed excellent range and speed and could carry a massive bomb load, twice that of its American counterpart, the B-17 Flying Fortress.
"G for George", the Australian War Memorial's famous Lancaster, was constructed in mid-1942 by Metropolitan-Vickers Ltd in Manchester, England. Upon completion, "George" was delivered for operations to 460 Squadron, RAAF, based at Breighton in Yorkshire. Its first mission took place on 6 December 1942 against the Germany city of Mannheim.
During the next sixteen months, "G for George" carried out some 90 bombing operations against Germany, Italy and occupied Europe. These included the famous raid of 17 August 1943 against the secret German Vergeltungswaffe (vengeance weapons - V-1 and V-2) facilities at Peenemünde on the Baltic coast, as well as 15 raids against Berlin. "G for George" was an incredible survivor of the worst part of the bomber offensive and no crew members were lost in the aircraft (although 40% of them were later killed in action). The bomber's last mission was flown against Cologne on 20 April 1944; it was withdrawn from service the following day.
"G for George" was flown to Australia during October-November 1944. In 1945 it toured eastern Australia as the flagship of the Third Victory Loan tour, where it helped raise funds for the war effort. At the end of this tour the Lancaster was delivered to the RAAF base at Canberra, where it rested, exposed to the elements, for ten years.
Installation of the Lancaster into the Australian War Memorial took place in 1955. "George" was dismantled and reassembled in Aeroplane Hall, where all work was completed in full view of the public. Since that time "George" has undergone some internal restoration work, including a new coat of paint in 1978. In 1999, "G for George" was dismantled and taken to the Memorial's Treloar Technology Centre at Mitchell, ACT, for major preservation treatment. The work planned includes complete disassembly, washing, chemical treatment, repainting, and the fitting of many missing parts. "George" has corrosion damage to the wings and fuselage and some original signatures (dating from 1945) in the interior are being lost as paintwork lifts and crumbles.
Currently, the nose section of "G for George" is on display in the Australian War Memorial's newest exhibition space, Anzac Hall. "G for George" will be reassembled and installed in a major new "object theatre" display on the bomber campaign over Europe, due to open in Anzac Hall in December 2003.