Video: Low Over London From Inside a Lancaster Heavy Bomber

Ever wondered what it was like to pilot one of the RAF’s World War II heavy bombers that featured giant bubble canopies, or to see the Earth whip by in stereo from the plexiglass enclosed bombardier’s seat in the very nose of such a beast?

Now you can find out, and not in some grainy black and white footage from the war.  Click through the jump for some awesome footage that MoD cameramen shot from inside the RAF’s Avro Lancaster bomber as it overflew London for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee yesterday. (It’s the four-engined plane shown above, flying with a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, but you knew that.)

The Lancaster was RAF Bomber Command’s main heavy bomber during the war, where it was used to pound targets in Germany during nighttime raids starting in 1942. The U.S.’ fleets of B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators had the unenviable job of pummeling German targets during the daytime, in full view of Nazi antiaircraft gunners and fighter planes.

Random fact: A later evolution of the Lancaster design, the Avro Shackleton, would serve in the RAF from the 1950s until 1991 as a maritime patrol and airborne early warning plane.

Watch the video and just imagine sitting in the glass-nose of the Lancaster as you try to put bombs on target while AA artillery explodes all around you.

  • matheusdiasuk

    Great video and pictures.
    Also, is good to remember today is the 68th anniversary of the D-Day. For those fallen warriors, we salute their sacrifice.

  • J Hughes

    Random fact: Ive never liked the name Shackleton

  • chris

    Great video.

  • Prodozul

    What’s that cloth in the ****pit used for?

  • nsjlmj

    Awesome view! Peter Jackson needs to hurry up with that Dambusters movie.

    • TinkersDam

      Wonder how they’ll handle that whole offensive callsign problem.

  • Musson

    Interesting random fact – the machine gun ammunition belts on the B-17 50 cals were 27 feet long. If you shot the entire belt at an incoming German fighter – then you gave him ‘the Whole Nine Yards.’

  • Lance

    Sweet pics like the Hurricane the best.

  • tomatojuice

    Came across this as well. Same flight? I only assume so. Enjoy!

  • elizzar

    it’s possibly a niggly point, and i certainly don’t mean to have a go at the bravery or skill of the us aircrews, but wasn’t the whole day-light bombing strategy their own command’s decision, which the british had tried earlier and found to be too costly in planes and men? especially as the uk at that time lacked a decent long-range fighter (as did the us to start with, which they later fixed) – hence why the british moved to the night time attacks (which were less accurate, but when you have 1000 bombers attacking a city a few are bound to hit!). oh and it was a rare patriotic feeling this past jubilee weekend, nice to see us with our flags and service people celebrated for a change, along with the queen of course. cheerio!

  • kim

    Given the choice of flying daytime bombing with the 8th, or nighttime bombing with the RAF (actually I’d prefer neither), statistically I’d be safer in a B-17 or a B-24 than in a Lancaster. Their crew losses were horrendous, on par with the German submarine fleet.

  • stephen russell

    How much for fee ride, awesome, Id go.
    Paid 449.00 to ride in B17G, Aluminum Overcast, 4-12 over So CA.
    Awesome experience, for anyone to have.
    Next plane rides: B25, B24.

  • Jacob

    Aren’t vintage warbird planes a bit less safe than modern planes and possibly not suited for ferrying spectators around?

    • joe

      Yes and no.
      On the other hand, I’d rather be in a Heritage Flight lancaster maintained by hand-picked Royal Air Force ground crew than a modern-ish airliner run by some of the budget airlines I’ve flown with…..

  • Richard OBrien

    Daft? These bombers murdered 800,000 non combatants in Germany. Dresden and so many centers of historic cultural significance, reduced to rubble. Indefensible Mass murder, with minimal effect upon German war production. (Strategic Bombing Survey)
    And last time I checked, there were few “Nazi” officers in the Wehrmacht or the other branches of the German Armed Forces.
    Let’s stop the BS.

    • blight_

      I think more credit goes to Speer for boosting production than bombers being unable to put a dent in the war machine.

    • Oldboy

      They started it.

    • William C.

      You don’t understand the concept of total war do you? The Germans and Japanese did and would have done the same in their effort to win.

      People like you disrespect all of the airmen who died in the skies above Europe because you’re unable to see the greater picture.

      Speer’s efforts to increase Germany’s production would have been much more successful if there was no bombing campaign. The Germans also had to divert thousands of fighters, tens of thousands of anti-aircraft guns, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers to counter these raids. All of those assets could have been deployed at one of the fronts if there was no bombing campaign.

    • gordon

      At the beginning of WWII, when I was being bombed in London, and houses were being smashed into rubble, and people died in the flames, Winston Churchill said, words to the effect that “for every ton of bombs that the Germans poured on England we will give them 3 tons back.” For me, Germany started bombing civilian sites into rubble, and we had little or no sympathy. I have been to Dresden and saw the devastation just after the war, and it told me that there is never any just or just or holy war. And it is poor leaders who wreak wars, for false reasons like G. Bush!

  • luiz camacho


  • Old Navy

    All guns in B29, except the tail gun were remote controlled. The gunners had bubbles for observation. I thing there were both 20mm and 50 cal but I am not sure.

  • scott

    it isnt very often that you get to see a ww2 aircraft fly over a famous city like london. when it does everyone wants to see it go over. i know i sure as hell would!