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British WW2 Lancaster bomber aircraft to fly over Belgium on 4 May

15:24 02/05/2023

The distinctive roar of Rolls Royce Merlin engines will be heard over Belgium on 4 May when legendary WW2 bomber, the Avro Lancaster, performs a special flypast.

Marking the anniversary of the Allied victory over the Nazi regime, the British bomber is due to fly over 10 towns in Flanders and one in Brabant-Walloon, reports Belga.

The four-engine propellor aircraft will leave its home base, RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, on Thursday morning. It’s scheduled to fly over a series of places that are historically significant for the heavy bomber.

They include: Lierde (East Flanders) at 12.13; Rebecq (Brabant Walloon) at 12.18; Heverlee (Flemish Brabant) at 12.29; Hechtel-Eksel (Limburg) at 12.41; and Ekeren (Antwerp) at 13.58.

The Lancaster will then continue its flypast over 12 place in the Netherlands, before making its return trip home across the Channel.

Registered PA474, it’s one of only two aircraft of this type still airworthy in the world. The Lancaster was the Royal Air Force’s most famous and most successful heavy bomber during WW2.

It belongs to the RAF’s historic unit, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), which was founded to pay tribute to the airmen of the Battle of Britain. It carries out aerial displays and flypasts in the usual formation of an Avro Lancaster, a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane.

This will be the BBMF Lancaster's second visit to Belgium in two years and its third since 2011.

The commune of Rebecq houses a memorial to the crew of the Lancaster, registered JA712, and the QR-H code of the RAF’s 550 Squadron, which crashed on the night of May 27 to 28, 1944. Five of the seven members of crew were killed.

While the Lancaster’s operation career is littered with impressive statistics, one notable feature was that the average age of the seven-man crew was only 22 years. They endured long, uncomfortable and dangerous bombing missions. The RAF’s bomber command suffered the highest casualty rate in WW2; on average, Lancasters completed twenty-one missions before being lost.

Photo: Avro Lancaster ©BBMF

Written by Sarah Crew