Books on the Lancaster

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Franklin/Scarborough "Lancaster - How to Model"

Franklin/Scarborough "Lancaster - How to Model"     Published in 1979 by Patrick Stephens Limited. You get 67 pages on type history by Neville Franklin. This is followed by a further 20 pages by Gerald Scarborough that covers the model making. This is quite a good effort for a book 28 years old! You still don't see books of this quality. It is such a good idea. There are lots of line drawings showing the differences between the major types. There are several scale drawings throughout. This is a book that is aimed at the model maker and is attempting to show how to model all the variants. This is clear right from the start.  The presentation is a little dated. All drawings are to 1/72nd scale. Sadly there are no colour pictures or artworks. Franklin/Scarborough "Lancaster - How to Model"The model-making section at the rear covers the models in 1/72 that then existed and then goes through how to convert them into other marques through the vacformed aftermarket items of the day. You get a few tips on how to detail the interior with a few pictures plus sections showing scratchbuilding all kinds of models including engine test beds. Chapter twelve just deals with the building of the 1/48th scale Tamiya kit. A very good book given its vintage.

Kagero Top Shots "Avro Lancaster B.X"

Kagero Top Shots "Avro Lancaster B.X"     ISBN 978 83 60445 51 8. Published by Kagero in Poland in 2007. Photos by Tom Żmuda and text by Leszek A Wieliczko. This is a full walkaround of the Canadian B.X preserved and flying Lancaster. It is all in English and Polish covering 162 detail shots over 44 pages. The book included Canopy and Wheel masks for the 1/72nd Hasegawa kit. These were fetching a high asking price on EBay in July 2007 and, to be honest, they are grossly over-priced. Usually you are paying for big glossy professional colour photo's of a museum piece that the publisher obtained special permission to photograph. Normally the public would never be able to obtain these photo's. However it is very clear that the Kagero crew turned up to a public airshow as the shots clearly show large crowds swarming around the aircraft. This is quite distracting at times. There are baby pushchairs and small children running around! The book is also disappointingly small. If you are used to the 'Top Shots' series then maybe you know what you are getting. However, to the uninitiated it would look as if you are getting something on the scale of the Squadron/Signal In Action Series. However the dimensions of this publication Kagero Top Shots "Avro Lancaster B.X"are some 80% smaller all round. These criticisms aside you do get a good potted history of the Canadian use of the B.X and a brief history of the type. The Canadian example is fantastically well preserved but the interior details clearly how many non-original features. This is not a museum piece exactly - it is a flying example and kitted out as such. Static dischargers were not on the wartime versions! Exterior photo's are taken on a dull day from ground level looking up. This machine has a gloss finish so the photo's suffer from considerable glare and lack of contrast. Many shots show the camera flash. A slightly more professional approach would have been to turn up before the crowds with a very tall stepladder! There are nice bomb-bay and flap interior shots. There are no scale plans, no line drawings and no colour artwork. Not in the same league as the Datafile on this page but (at the same time) probably vastly more useful to the modeller than most books on the type. Recommended - despite the many shortcomings.

Osprey "Lancaster A Bombing Legend"

Osprey "Lancaster A Bombing Legend"     ISBN 1 85532 267 6. Published by Osprey Publishing in 1993. Written and photographed by Rick Radell and Mike Vines. Essentially a transatlantic cooperative venture with Mike photographing the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lanc whilst Rick (over in Toronto, Canada) photo'd the Canadian flying Lanc. As such this not really a book devoted to modellers as it features only current airworthy Lancs. Hence the details, you see, show many contemporary features that would not be on a wartime aircraft. Putting that to one side this book still has it worth as often the colours are quite authentic. All the photo's are high gloss colour even if the book format is a little small. This is still bigger than the lamentable Kagero Topshots effort (above). For the super-detailer there is a wealth of detail as you get to see these veteran machines stripped down to the bones inside their hangars as Osprey "Lancaster A Bombing Legend"they are prepared for the airshow season (picture - right). At least these guys actually got permission to photo these Lancs away from airshows! So there are no shots of baby buggies of other public paraphernalia. The text is almost incidental to the pictures but it contains some useful history and dialogue concerning these specific aircraft and their maintenance. One thing you will learn is that the high gloss finish on the BoBMF is not authentic whereas that matt coat on the underside of the example at the Canadian Warplane Museum's example is. There is a cutaway inside the rear covers. This is a likeable little book sadly only lacking in more interior shots. However - recommended, it is everything the Kagero book probably should have been. You can't have it all.

Peter Jacobs "The Lancaster Story"

Peter Jacobs "The Lancaster Story"      ISBN 1 85605 703 8. Published by Silverdale Books in 1996 and written by Peter Jacobs (a serving RAF Officer who has crewed a Lancaster). 190 pages long and quite meaty this books boasts 'over 200 photographs and diagrams'. This made it sound interesting enough to snap it up cheap off EBay in July 2007. There is a two-page cutaway diagram but it extremely dated. Peter Jacobs "The Lancaster Story" The font is quite big and most of the black and white photo's are relatively small. You soon realise that this no monograph for the modeller. Instead it is one of those highly 'worthy but dull' titles designed to clutter your coffee table but no more. The author is more interested in story telling that details of the actual machines. There might be a handful of useful photo's but the captions are not all that informative. You get six rather dated line drawings lifted straight from the engineering manual showing you such fascinatingly useless details as the routing of the hydraulics pipes. I mean, really! Not recommended. What were these guys thinking? Rubbish.

Harry Holmes "Lancaster - Combat Legend"

Harry Holmes "Lancaster - Combat Legend"     Published in 2002 by Airlife Publishing Ltd. A small volume but 96 pages long softcover. You get a complete type history and 6 pages of colour artworks. There are a few interior and detail shots but no line drawings. There are no scale plans but one black and white three view artwork. The black and white photo's are unremarkable and nothing you will not have seen elsewhere. Harry Holmes "Lancaster - Combat Legend"Not of much use to the modeller. Pictures are not glossy and mostly of poor quality. A so so effort and it is difficult to determine what market this was aimed at. A bit of a light-weight coffee table filler. You know you are in for a disappointment when they prepare an artwork then print it in black and white.


Richard A. Franks "Lancaster Modeller's Datafile"

Richard A. Franks "Lancaster Modeller's Datafile"     Published in 2000 by SAM Publications. Without doubt the 'ultimate' Lancaster reference for the model maker. You get a massive 176 pages not including a set of scale plans slotted into the back. There is a very complete run down of the then available kits and aftermarket items (immediately out of date). There is a modeller's colour cross-reference chart. There are plenty of black and white photo's but they haven't skimped on the colour like, for example, the markings colour section on paRichard A. Franks "Lancaster Modeller's Datafile"ge 144. Richard J. Caruana has contributed loads of colour artworks throughout. You get a run-down of just how good the available kits are and how to build them. You also get pages and pages of line drawings. Then there are literally hundreds of colour photographs in true 'walkaround' style. The first section of the book does the usual top-to-tail history with some typical black and white photo's, but I wouldn't recommend buying it for this bit! The best ever.


Haynes Workshop Manual "Avro Lancaster"

ISBN 978 1 84425 463 7. "Avro Lancaster - 1941 onwards (all marks) was written by Jarrod Cotter and Paul Blackah. This hardback was published in 2008 (this edition reprinted 2010) by Haynes Publishing. For your cover price of 19.99 you get 160 pages consisting of eight sections: Introduction, "The Lancaster Story", "Anatomy of the Lancaster", "The Owner's View", "The Crew's View", "The Engineer's View", Appendices and Index. Those of you familiar with Haynes Manuals will recall they became famous for the Owner's Workshop Manuals for Cars. These books told you everything you needed to know to take the car apart and put it back together again. The well-known and quintessential format has been pushed into new field in the last ten years to include topics as diverse as house maintenance to child-care. How many new fathers have not had to endure the ritual humiliation of receiving the Baby Care Manual from a well-intentioned relative? Some of these books have been little more than humorous jokes however even the light-hearted topics have been professionally written and were never spoofs. The new Lancaster book is part of a new series that covers the Concorde, Vulcan, Spitfire, Hurricane and Bf-109. By the time you read this no doubt there will be more. These could be poor exploitative books but if the Lancaster version is anything to go by then this is the essential guide to the Lancaster. Of course the intent is to appeal to aviation fans interested in the nuts and bolts of their favourite flying subjects. However, it is the nuts and bolts that interests the model maker too. Obviously the book has little content covering colour-schemes and history. But that isn't the point is it? This work is more than fun. It is serious as it is based upon studious on-the-spot research with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Museum London, Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Basically any major museum with a Lanc in it must have got involved. And what you get for your money is exactly what Haynes is great at. This is a genuine (if brief) workshop manual. It even comes with a disclaimer just in case anyone has a mishap taking apart their real Lancaster. Just how many of the readership really have a Lanc parked in the garage? The BBMF Lanc was the main source for the work. PA474 is kept in airworthy condition. This involves taking it apart for maintenance every winter. This was Hayne's chance to crawl all over it to show exactly how this was done. Every page drips with detailed colour photos of the airframe in various stages of disassembly. One might question just how much of the modern Lanc PA474 looks as it would during World War 2 but this is a minor quibble. This book is gorgeous. Maybe not quite as complete for the model maker as Franks' "Datafile" above but a lovely piece of work all the same.



Christopher Chant "Lancaster"

Christopher Chant "Lancaster"     Published in 2003 by Parragon. I bought this as somewhat as a mistake from EBay in 2005. It is anChristopher Chant "Lancaster" extremely light-weight coffee table Christmas stocking filler of little real value. It is one of those empty 'pretty' books for the undiscerning audience. You get 95 pages in nice glossy format. Pictures are crisp and clear. Some are interesting and useful. There is a scattering of colour photos and artworks. Not recommended but if you must have every Lancaster book....


Squadron Signal "Lancaster In Action"

Squadron Signal "Lancaster In Action"    Published in 1982. Written by R. S. G. Mackay and illustrated by Don Greer. 50 pages in very typical format. Full colour front and rear covers plus a colour center section. There are line drawings throughout showing differences Squadron Signal "Lancaster In Action"between the different models of the Lancaster. There are no scale plans but there is a line-drawn layout as usual for these Squadron/Signal In Action books. Photo's are black and white throughout but crisp and clear. Photo's are generally useful and of good size. However, there are better books about the Lancaster for modellers.

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