Mac Duffield and Jeff Phillips in front of part of the FM 104 Lancaster. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Ambitious B.C. Aviation Museum need $10M to get iconic Lancaster back in the air

Volunteers flock to work on bomber, restoration expected to take 10 years

As work begins to restore an iconic Second World War Lancaster bomber, the B.C. Aviation Museum acknowledges it will need significant long-term funding to complete the project.

When you think of iconic machines, you might think of a Ferrari F40 or the Bismarck battleship, but for air enthusiasts few aircraft are as recognizable or admired as the Lancaster.

RELATED: BCAM slated to get one of last remaining Lancaster bombers

The BCAM in North Saanich managed to acquire one of these machines, and they plan to restore it to flight condition with the help of Victoria Air Maintenance, so it will be one of only three that are airworthy anywhere in the world. Over 7,000 of the aircraft were built for British and Commonwealth forces, but only 17 survive.

“We’ve undertaken to restore it to flight condition,” says Mac Duffield a retired pilot and volunteer at the museum, before adding sadly “but that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to fly it. We can’t afford to fly the aircraft we currently have because of the insurance.”

This particular Lancaster, serial number FM 104, was built in Ontario and sent to Europe in 1944 as the Second World War wound down.

At the end of the war, it was flown on the East Coast as part of 407 squadron flying out of Comox.

After it was retired in 1965, it was mounted on a pole beside Lake Ontario, exposed to the elements for 25 years and eventually ended up in a Toronto museum. After the museum closed, the B.C. Aviation Museum secured the FM 104 for a nominal fee, albeit with $89,000 shipping costs.

“There’s a lot of interest in it at the moment. I’m enthusiastic about it and excited for the community,” says Duffield.

Jeff Phillips, another knowledgeable museum volunteer adds, “When it got out that we have a Lancaster, we’ve had over 50 new memberships of guys wanting to work on it.”

Despite the BCAM’s impressive organization and enthusiasm, the cost of restoration is likely to hit $10 million with each of the four Rolls Royce Merlin engines costing $250,000 each to rebuild.

“The museum has pretty much always paid its way and never gone into severe financial distress. This project though, will require additional funding over and beyond what the museum normally needs,” says Duffield.

The Lancaster was the Royal Air Force’s heaviest bomber and no other Second World War plane could match its bombload capacity. Seven to nine men crewed it, and to many, its maneuverability, reliability and unique look secured its place in aviation history.

ALSO READ: UVic’s cutting-edge centre leading the way in drones and AI

But for the volunteers of BCAM, it is more personal than that. This plane is part of Canadian aviation heritage. To Duffield the aircraft is more than a collection of parts.

“I feel privileged to work with it. I had a very good friend, Gilbert Scott, who flew one tour on Lancasters as a bomber navigator, one as a pathfinder and he survived the war. When I work on this I think about him. A wonderful gentleman and a really good friend.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Part of the Lancaster’s nose section, in a BCAM workshop. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Part of the Lancaster’s nose section. It is being restored in one of the BCAM’s workshops. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

A wheel, two Rolls Royce Merlin engines and two parts of the Lancaster. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

The Lancaster’s bomb bay doors drying after being worked on. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Just Posted

Province’s oldest lawyer shares advice for living well at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

PHOTOS: New BC Ferries hybrid vessels arrive in Victoria’s Inner Harbour

The ferries will run two gulf island routes in upcoming months

Saanich swaps last propane-powered Zamboni for electric model

Pearkes arena’s all-electric ice resurfacing fleet to reduce carbon emissions by six tonnes

VIDEO: Traffic snarled during Friday evening rush hour, now clear

Traffic was backed up all over Greater Victoria

Man in life-threatening condition after suspected overdose

The man was found behind a building near the intersection of Quadra Street and North Park Street

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Dashcam records driver’s near-miss near Sooke

Driver crossed four lanes of traffic and back over again, barely missing three other vehicles

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Most Read