Avro Lancaster Mk III
Demand for the Rolls Royce Merlin engine constantly threatened to outstrip supply. One solution was the manufacture of Merlin engines by the Packard motor company in America. These Packard Merlins were used in a variety of aircraft, but perhaps the biggest consumer was the Lancaster III, of which 3,039 were built (requiring over 12,000 engines). The use of the Packard Merlin 28, capable of delivering 1,420 hp at take-off was the only difference between the Mk I and the Mk III.
The Lancaster Mk III was constructed on the same Avro construction lines as the Mk I, with the choice of engines dependent on availability. The Mk III entered production towards the end of 1942, and entered service during 1943. Production continued throughout the war. A number of Mk IIIs were amongst the aircraft modified to carry the famous “bouncing bomb” used on the Dambusters raid.
The end of lend-lease left the RAF without Air Sea Rescue aircraft. The end of the war also left a huge number of Lancasters surplus to requirement. A number of Mk IIIs were converted to fill the gap. The most distinctive feature of the A.S.R. III was its ability to carry a lifeboat below the bomb bay. The bomb aimer gained the new duty of boat dropper. This author’s father performed that role with either No. 37 or No. 38 Squadron, based on Malta, during his national service.