Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe & Miniature No. 21: The Avro Lancaster Part Two

Reviewed by Kevin Futter

UK publisher Valiant Wings Publishing has released Number 21 in its Airframe & Miniature series, entitled The Avro Lancaster (including the Lancastrian): Part Two — Post-War Service, and subtitled as "A Complete Guide To The RAF's Legendary Heavy Bomber". The author is Richard Franks, and the illustrations are shared between Richard Caruana and Juraj Jankovic. The terrific cover art is by Jerry Boucher. This is the follow-up title to Part One, which covers the development of the Manchester and Lancaster, and their wartime service.

This book has the same hefty 272 page count as Part One, plus a gatefold section of scale drawings. It's extremely well printed on quality glossy paper, and the reproduction of all drawings and photographs is first-class.

As indicated by the title, coverage of wartime aircraft is dealt with in Part One, with the exception of some test-bed airframes.

The contents are broken up into seven separate chapters, grouped into two distinct sections:

There is also a preface, along with a collection of appendices at the rear of the book:

  1. Lancaster B Mks VII & X & Lancastrian Kit, Accessory & Mask List
  2. Manchester, Lancaster (inc. civil conversions) & Lancastrian Production
  3. Bibliography

The sample images below (courtesy Valiant Wings Publishing) should give a good indication of the nature and style of the book's contents:

While not mentioned in the table of contents, the Preface weighs in at a substantial 40 pages, and describes a potted history of the Lancaster's post-war development, and its evolution into the Lancastrian, as well as its use as an engine test-bed platform. Foreign post-war use is also covered, the lion's share of which goes to Canada. Overall, the Preface provides useful support for the subsequent technical information.

The sequence of chapters covering the evolution of the airframe weighs in at 51 pages, and manages to cover a surprisingly large number of modifications and adaptations to the veteran wartime airframe—even including some arrestor hook trials! These pages consist of brief summaries supported by crisply-rendered greyscale profile drawings. They are clear and easy to follow, and form a handy guide for discerning what features distinguished which variants.

The Camouflage & Markings section covers 38 pages, though lacks the usual stencil placement guide. Rather than a dedicated section for colour profiles, they are instead interspersed throughout the text as necessary. They are by Richard Caruana as usual, and are very nicely rendered indeed. Unlike wartime Lancasters that only came in a limited variety of schemes, post-war aircraft sported a number of interesting and colourful liveries, providing the aspiring Lancaster modeller with plenty of inspiration for something different.

Chapter 5, Building a Selection, contains Part Two's only model build: the HK Models 1/32 Lancaster B Mk I by John Wilkes. Though the article is brief, the model is excellent, and John offers plenty of tips for anyone building the kit. And I applaud Valiant Wings for including a 1/32 scale build!

Chapter 6 is called Building a Collection, and features a series of annotated isometric 3D line drawings by Juraj Jankovic. These are designed to illustrate the salient differences between the various production and test-bed airframes as the type evolved, and form a perfect companion to the earlier 'evolution' chapters. Taken together, they really do highlight the complexities of the development of the post-war Lancaster airframe.

Chapter 7, In Detail, features an extensive selection of archival and contemporary photographs and diagrams, including a series of walkaround detail photos of five surviving airframes. The walkaround photos have been selected with a modeller's eye, which is not only welcome, but very handy.

The three appendices cover the usual list of available kits, aftermarket, decals, and mask sets, as well as a concise bibliography for further research. Additionally, Appendix II features a nine-page listing of the entire Manchester, Lancaster, and Lancastrian production run, which is a handy reference indeed.

The scale plans included at the very back of the book are to 1/72 scale, and presented in a single gatefold page. They're printed on heavy, non-glossy plain stock, covering the following airframes:

These are drawn by Richard Caruana and look very nicely done. Note that many of these variations are rendered only as scrap or fuselage side views that show pertinent differences between the models, rather than as separate full plans.


Not being a Lancaster expert, I can't give a considered evaluation of the accuracy or veracity of the text itself, and so will leave that to more knowledgeable readers. All other elements of the book ooze quality however, from the clear photography to the beautiful profiles and the detailed scale plans. Contemporary photographs are plentiful and very nicely reproduced. I'm pleased to see a 1/32 scale model build included, and the amazing array of post-war Lancaster and Lancastrian variations should give any modeller aspiring to something different plenty to work with.

Overall it's an impressive attempt to be the Complete Guide the title alludes to. Recommended!

Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review copy.

© Kevin Futter 2023

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This review was published on Saturday, July 22 2023; Last modified on Saturday, July 22 2023