B.C. Aviation Museum starts challenging restoration of Lancaster Bomber

Five trucks delivered the bomber in pieces to North Saanich museum

The B.C. Aviation Museum (BCAM) in North Saanich now has a Lancaster Bomber — some assembly required.

The pieces of the classic World War II-era plane was delivered on five semi-trucks last weekend, and if all goes to plan, it will fly again.

Expected to take 10 years, it will be the most challenging restoration ever undertaken by the aviation museum.

“We’ve restored aircraft in worse shape than this, but not of this size,” said BC Aviation Museum president John Lewis.

He credited Victoria Air Maintenance for making the restoration possible, as they have extensive experience in the matter. He is hoping for government funding and will begin an extensive fundraiser this fall to restore the plane and build another hangar to house it.

RELATED: BCAM slated to get Lancaster bomber

The plane was built in late 1944 in the northern suburbs of Toronto. It flew to Europe in 1945 with the aim of serving in the Second World War, but was never used. It flew back later that year and served for 19 years in Maritime Command in reconnaissance and rescue. Similar aircraft served at CFB Comox, said Lewis.

From 1965 to 1999 the plane was on a plinth in Toronto’s Coronation Park. It was then displayed at the Canadian Air and Space Museum at Downsview Park, but when the museum was evicted in 2011 the plane was put into storage for years. The City of Toronto agreed to give it to BCAM for free (shipping fees not included), though several Toronto groups, including #SaveLancasterFM104, made their own bids to keep the plane in Ontario. All told, the fees to transport the plane and store its parts cost just shy of $80,000, said Lewis.

Outside the museum are two 45-foot shipping containers containing the nose-section of the WWII bomber, after the rest of it wouldn’t fit in their main hangar. Two other restored planes, a Vickers Viscount (painted in Trans-Canada Air Lines livery) and Douglas A-26, must spend a cold winter outside the hangar to make way for the new bomber until a third hangar can be built. Vickers said they are working to set up heaters and dehumidifiers to preserve them.

“I was pretty excited on Saturday but fully conscious of the task we’ve set ourselves,” said Lewis.


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