Today’s phonetic alphabet goes … Romeo, Sierra, Tango, but in the 1940s S was for Sugar. In this post S-Sugar is a Lancaster bomber with a long list of raids. My connection is that my uncle, Leading Aircraftman Frank Dennis, serviced the electrics and instruments on this very aircraft. I blogged about this in Sugar Survives!.
I prefer this dark, sinister and menacing image of a night-time assassin, but a bit more detail can be seen in the next, adjusted image. In the hangar the lighting is quite low and the underside in shadow, as it would have been when setting off on a raid, with only starlight or non-full moonlight. The people serve to show just what a monster this was. The wingspan was 102 ft (31 metres).
Uncle Frank never mentioned Grand Slam, so I suspect he never saw one, as it was expensive and used sparingly on the most difficult targets – see board below.
In its long career this Lancaster carried two sets of unit markings and three different designs of unofficial nose art work. These drawings show the aircraft in No. 83 Squadron markings as Q-Queenie and No. 467 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force as ‘S-Sugar’. The photographs illustrate the nose art work.
Whilst with No. 83 Squadron the aircraft carried a painting depicting a devil with the words “Devils of the Air”. On moving to No. 467 Squadron RAAF, ‘Q-Queenie’ was recoded ‘S-Sugar’ and received a fresh nose decoration of a kneeling nude supporting a bomb. Finally, whilst based at Waddington, it acquired the bomb-log and Goering’s foolishly extravagant claim.
Sadly, the 467 Squadron badge is not on display, and although I reproduce the famous 617 “Dambusters” Squadron badge below, there is no connection, except the “Lanc”.
Clearly, the RAF Museum at Hendon is not just about this one aircraft. The exhibits are well presented, with lots of explanatory material, and it is well worth a visit. Entry is free, but you will have to pay £3 or £4 for parking. The nearest tube stop is Colindale on the Northern Line. Some rebuilding work is going on in anticipation of the centenary of the RAF in 2018, so some exhibits are not available. I will return!